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A food blog from NHPR news, digital, & programming staff, exploring food & food culture around the state & the New England region. On-air features air Thursdays on All Things Considered and Saturdays during Weekend Edition.

Custom Confectioners Churn Out Halloween Chocolates

Halloween is upon us, and Granite State Candies, a third generation candy shop in Concord and Manchester, has been making custom chocolates for the Holiday even though Halloween is not necessarily the time when shoppers splurge on that special treat.

Baskets of chocolate pumpkins and witches beckon out on the retail floor of the shop, but many of them are nearly empty on Halloween around noon. “We’re glad to see the baskets getting empty,” says the shop’s owner Jeff Bart, “because after Halloween, all the items that are left go right back into the melter and we turn them into turkeys.”

Next door to the sales floor, crowded with sweets both home-made and not, is a bright chocolatiers workshop.  The melters that Bart mentioned – 200-pound vats of tempered chocolate – squirt out blasts of milk, dark, and white goodness powered by compressed air, and their grumbles and hisses make the space feel like some mad-scientist set it up.  

A nineteen-year-old chocolatier mans the molds. Ian Stuart says he worked his way up from cleaning the floors to working part-time in the shop while going to school. “It’s pretty awesome,” he confesses but notes he has to ride his bike to and from work to keep trim.

Halloween may be all about candy, but it's also a holiday with a heavy emphasis on quantity over quality. As such, Halloween is not the biggest season for deluxe candy shops like Granite State Candy. But even so “we provide a lot of chocolates candies and things to those people who have those special trick-or-treaters,” says Bart.

But he also notes they are looking ahead to the big holidays for chocolates already. “We’re making Valentine’s hearts and Valentine’s pops right now, and soon enough we’ll be making chocolate bunnies for Easter time,” says Bart, “It’s one of our biggest holidays and we’ll make literally tens of thousands of bunnies.”

But the shoulder celebrations like Halloween help these custom confectioners keep things moving in between the more chocolate-centric holidays. Even if it’s only folks planning something for their special trick-or-treaters

Sam Evans-Brown has been working for New Hampshire Public Radio since 2010, when he began as a freelancer. He shifted gears in 2016 and began producing Outside/In, a podcast and radio show about “the natural world and how we use it.” His work has won him several awards, including two regional Edward R. Murrow awards, one national Murrow, and the Overseas Press Club of America's award for best environmental reporting in any medium. He studied Politics and Spanish at Bates College, and before reporting was variously employed as a Spanish teacher, farmer, bicycle mechanic, ski coach, research assistant, a wilderness trip leader and a technical supporter.
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