Slideshow: 11 Caramels We Love in Chicago

The Contenders
The Contenders

Clockwise from top left: Leonidas, Fudge Pot, Katherine Anne Confections, Amy's Candy Bar, Vanille Patisserie, and Vosges.

Fleur de Sel Caramels at Leonidas
Fleur de Sel Caramels at Leonidas

As the caramel man behind the counter warned me, these little guys are addictive. They're indulgently chewy without being sticky thanks to what tastes like a whole lot of quality European butter. If you like your caramels more buttery than salted, these would be right up your alley.

Leonidas Chocolate Café, 59 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611 (map); 312-929-2323; leonidas-usa.com‎

Bergomot Caramel Chocolate at Leonidas
Bergomot Caramel Chocolate at Leonidas

These chocolates are filled with an oozing caramel flavored with bergamot, an herb that tastes similar to black pepper. These are a great addition to a variety box of chocolates, but wouldn't quite satisfy that caramel itch if they were the only kind you bought.

Leonidas Chocolate Café, 59 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611 (map); 312-929-2323; leonidas-usa.com‎

Salt & Pepper Hazelnut, Chai Tea, and Vanilla Caramels at Katherine Anne Confections
Salt & Pepper Hazelnut, Chai Tea, and Vanilla Caramels at Katherine Anne Confections

Katherine's 75 cent caramels are slightly firmer than others, so they provide a more substantial and longer chew, which I particularly enjoyed. I tried just three out of a variety of flavors and all of them won me over.

The salt and pepper hazelnut was downright fun. The first thing you notice is that the hazelnuts are roasted and extra crunchy. Then, just when you think the pepper flavor is never going to show up, it pops in right at the end. The chai slowly revealed its classic spice profile after a few chews. The vanilla was a bit softer than the others, but still had a slow melt away and was discernibly vanilla-flavored.

Katherine Anne Confections, 2745 West Armitage Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647 (map); 773-772-1330; katherine-anne.com‎

Passionfruit-Mango, Raspberry, and Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels at Amy's Candy Bar
Passionfruit-Mango, Raspberry, and Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels at Amy's Candy Bar

When I eat chocolate-covered caramels, I usually find myself unsatisfied with either the amount of caramel or the amount of chocolate; the two flavors can sometimes compete rather than complement. That's why I love Amy's chocolate sea salt caramel so much. It strikes the perfect balance between the two flavors and marries them completely.

The passion fruit-mango and raspberry caramels are really more fruit chew than caramel, but I still loved them both. Instead of relying on the bitter flavors of caramelization, the passion fruit brings a tartness to balance the sweetness instead, and the raspberry packs a surprisingly strong raspberry punch in such a tiny package.

Amy's Candy Bar‎, 4704 North Damen Avenue, Chicago, IL 60625 (map); 773-942-6386; amyscandybar.com

Butter Caramels at Vanille Patisserie
Butter Caramels at Vanille Patisserie

Vanille's butter caramels are the softest and darkest of the bunch. They allow the sugar to caramelize a little further than the others, so the sweetness is nicely balanced by the complex caramelization.

Vanille Patisserie, 2229 North Clybourn Avenue, Chicago, IL 60614 (map); 773-868-4574; vanillepatisserie.com‎‎