I Melt for You

Yes, yes, the hot thing now is to make chocolates with peppercorns, or lemongrass, or, shudder, rosemary. But the New York Times is instead kicking it old-school with its recent travel piece on Wisconsin’s “Candy Delta,” a magical place where the dairy is local, the recipes are traditional, and a lovingly handmade chocolate turtle is what passes for innovation.

According to writer Kit Kiefer (should have been Steve Almond, grumbled fellow Grinder blogger Miriam Wolf), drive a 150-mile triangle around Green Bay, Manitowoc, and Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and you can sample the wares of a whole bunch of delightfully anachronistic old-timey candy stores.

Take my advice: Don’t click through unless you’re stuffed. Because there’s no way you’re going to be able to resist Kiefer’s evocative descriptions of the treats she tried, not to mention the luscious slideshow of chocolate photos. Here’s Kiefer’s take on an ongoing, friendly competition between two Oshkosh chocolate shops, Oaks and Hughes.

The dueling pistol in this skirmish is the meltaway. A meltaway starts where a 3 Musketeers bar ends: more chocolate on the outside, more chocolate on the inside, denser in the hand, yet lighter in texture. Hughes’s meltaways are the size of a large Lego block; the Oaks version is the Melty-Bar.

With its Art-Deco wrapper and hotel-soap shape, the Melty-Bar is true to its slogan, ‘The Aristocrat of Candy Bars.’ And a version with a healthy dose of malt turns the Melty-Bar into a Malty-Melty.

‘When people say they like malt, they like malt — so why put in just a little malt?’ said Bill Oaks, 59, the vice president of Oaks Candy, as he coaxed vanilla cream from a 100-year-old mixing machine. ‘It’s strong flavors, so when you bite into a piece you taste something besides chocolate.’

Oh my God! I do love malt! And ain’t no wimpy little Whopper ball gonna do it for me now that I know the Malty-Melty exists. Any friends out there from Wisconsin want to send me a care package? I hear Wilmar’s caramels are divine. And they’re about $24 a pound instead of $22 for four ounces like the Recchiuti caramels hawked in San Francisco, where I live. Oooh, and Wilmar’s has French mints too—anyone know how those stack up to a Frango?

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