The North Shore has long had a love affair with handcrafted candy. There are so many locally owned businesses, many with decades or even generations of experience, that we’ll bet there’s one turning out delectable handmade goodies just a short drive from wherever you happen to be. Here is a sampling of some of the goodies on offer. Remember, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.
With more than four decades of experience and an ever-expanding line of high-quality chocolate products, Harbor Sweets is a one-stop shop for delicious gifts. We especially love the Valentine’s Cocoa Santé Gift Basket—a collab with Sweet Lydia’s of Lowell. It combines Cocoa Santé, Harbor Sweets’ brand of ethically sourced hot cocoa, with Sweet Lydia’s handmade marshmallows and a charming red mug, all for $65. Seeking candy straight-up? Look no further than their wide variety of pretty packaged treats—a selection of Sweet Sloops (sailboat-shaped almond butter crunch, dipped in white and dark chocolate) costs just $11.50, or grab a big box of all their classics wrapped in pretty gold foil for $50.
85 Leavitt Street, Salem; Northshore Mall in Peabody; Burlington Mall; 978.745.7648, harborsweets.com/category/Valentines-Day
La Cascade du Chocolat
These new kids on the chocolate block opened their first store two years ago in Exeter, New Hampshire, and debuted a second location in Newburyport just last year, but they’re already turning heads with artistic creations that taste as good as they look, packed with local ingredients like milk from Hatchland Farm and Contoocook Creamery. Wow your sweetie with a shining jewel-toned collection that includes passionfruit, strawberry, cherry, and even a Spanish hot chocolate with chili flavor. A restrained box of four is $13 or go all out with a package of 16 for $52.
61 State Street, Newburyport, 603.777.5177, lacascadeduchocolat.com
Hallie Baker, proprietor of Turtle Alley, has been pleasing patrons for more than 20 years with her handmade confections. She has special Valentine’s boxes starting at just $9 for a sweet package filled with four generous treats, and they go up to $40 for more than 20 pieces. Looking for something a bit out of the ordinary? Grab the DUDE! box for $21, a tie-dye heart filled with a mixed pound of everything from turtles to a blondie.
42 Rogers Street, Gloucester, 978.281.4000; 318 Derby Street, Salem; turtlealley.com
Winfrey’s Fudge & Chocolates
From a basement on the North Shore 40 years ago, this family-owned chocolatier has grown to four locations around the North Shore—Rowley, Stoneham, Wenham, and Beverly—not to mention supplying countless wholesale clients. They started packing up their special heart-shaped boxes early last month, stuffed with caramels, truffles, and fruity cream fillings, and they are well prepared for the sweet rush.
42 Newburyport Turnpike, Rowley, 978.948.7448, winfreys.com
Ye Olde Pepper Candy Co.
Go way beyond traditional and give a taste of history from America’s oldest candy company. Sure, they have a slew of classic chocolates (turtles, truffles, caramels, and more), and their fudge is rightfully famous. But if you want to stand out from the crowd, tell your true love your romance will stand the test of time just like the Gibralter, a hard lemon- or mint-flavored indulgence invented in 1806 and made by Ye Olde Pepper Candy Co. exactly the same way today.
122 Derby Street, Salem, 978.745.2744; 59 Main Street, North Andover, 978.689.3636; oldepeppercandy.com
Tucked in an English garden in Marblehead, Stowaway Sweets has crafted chocolates by hand for almost 100 years. Some of their most famous guests throughout the years have included Winston Churchill, FDR, Katherine Hepburn, and Oprah Winfrey. Try their Meltaways, with smooth buttercream centers covered in milk or dark chocolate, that, you guessed it, melt in your mouth.
154 Atlantic Avenue, Marblehead, 781.631.0303, stowawaysweets.com
The Danvers cafe serves up ice cream and candy—plus some show-stopping handmade chocolates. For over 65 years they’ve used locally sourced fresh ingredients and traditional New England recipes to craft their chocolate confections.
255 Newbury Street, Danvers, 978.774.2383, putnampantry.com
Prides Crossing Confections
Opened by world-class chocolatier Chris Flynn in 1982, the Beverly chocolate shop continues to make some of the best chocolates in the Greater Boston area. They aim to make stopping into their Prides Crossing train depot shop like stepping back in time. The scent of their renowned caramels wafts through the air, and rows of glass counters hold endless confections that are handmade daily.
590 Hale Street, Beverly, 978.927.2185, pridescrossingconfections.com
Located in the heart of Salisbury Beach, Swell Willey’s has been cranking out handcrafted chocolates since 1913. They open this week for Valentine’s Day orders—you can preorder online, then pick up any afternoon from Thursday to Sunday. Don’t forget to revisit in the summer for their homemade ice cream!
4 Broadway, Salisbury, 978.465.5541, swellwilleys.com