I set out to find some smaller producers of that simple, delicate balance between sweet and burnt sugar known as the caramel. Unsurprisingly, I found no fewer than 11 great caramels ranging from the classic sweet and chewy to passion fruit-mango, and even one flavored with bergamot, an herb with surprising notes of black pepper.
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So-called for their resemblance to the fungus, chocolate truffles have other characteristics in common with their mushroom namesake: they're rare, indulgent, yes, often expensive. But often the cost correlates with quality ingredients, whether that means Valhrona cocoa or Dom Pérignon cream. Of course, if you agree that money can't buy love, there are a few under-$10 options on our list as well.
From silky gourmet Valhrona cocoa to complex Mexican spices, there are more variations on hot chocolate in Chicago than you can shake a candy cane at. Here are some of our favorites.