Vancouver Weekend: We're Thinking....Halloween Treats

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      Need something to do this weekend? Here are five places to find ghastly Halloween treats to satisfy your scary sweet tooth.

      Chez Christophe Chocolaterie Patisserie, 4717 Hastings Street, Burnaby

      We can assume that most Halloween treats are consumed by pint-size trick-or-treaters, who will roam around neighbourhoods knocking on doors on October 31 (even though it may be a rainy Monday night). As for the rest of us who are still enthusiastic about Halloween sweets, but not so much about the bite-size Nestlé candy bars that have been on shelves since the end of August, we’re in luck. Tucked away in Burnaby Heights, Chez Christophe is hidden gem located a short 20-minute drive from Downtown Vancouver. Known for its seasonal chocolate sculptures, this year’s Halloween collection include showpieces such as a smiling pumpkin with a witch’s hat, and a spooky scarecrow giving off a Tim Burton vibe. Made from award-winning Swiss chocolate and airbrushed with cocoa butter, these treats are worth keeping all to yourself. But if you really feel like sharing, the chocolate shop also offers smaller ghost and pumpkin milk-chocolate lollipops that are filled with freeze-dried raspberries or crunchy milk-chocolate gianduja. You’ll never go back to buying cheap Halloween candies after this decadent experience.

      You'll find sophisticated candy grab-bags at Commercial Drive Licorice Parlour.
      Commercial Drive Licorice Parlour

      Commercial Drive Licorice Parlour, 1002 Commercial Drive

      Forget candy corn, Tootsie Rolls, and those too-small-to-enjoy big-brand chocolate bars: if you¹re looking to spice up your Halloween candy selection, Mary Jean “Watermelon” Dunsdon’s Commercial Drive Licorice Parlour has got you covered. In addition to a wild assortment of specialty Halloween chocolates, the shop is carrying everything from salty licorice skulls and spiders to ultra-sophisticated candy grab bags that go way beyond what you might expect from your local corner store. Importing licorice and other goodies from all over the world, employees at Dunsdon’s (trick-or-) treatery have Vancouver’s classy sugar addicts in mind when prepping these bags, which start at $2.75 for 100 grams. (They are packaged in 100-, 200- ($5.50), 400- ($11), and 800-gram ($22) sizes.) Pick up some treats this weekend and enter to win a 400-gram bag, just in time for All Hallows’ Eve.

      Halloween-themed cupcakes from Cupcakes are ideal for dessert-lovers.

      Cupcakes, various locations

      Whether you’ve been given the duty of buying baked goods for a Halloween fundraiser, or tasked with bringing something to a costume-party potluck, you won’t go wrong by picking up some themed cupcakes. Cupcakes (yes, that is the name of the shop) has been selling these tasty mini-cakes since 2002, and their Halloween collection is a staple for anyone who has a sweet tooth. The baked-goods chain offers scary designs that range from spiders to skulls, ghosts to vampires, werewolves to monsters, and more. Customers can choose between chocolate or vanilla for the icing, and a range of cake flavours, such as chocolate, pumpkin, coconut, and vanilla. Besides the colourful cupcakes—which also come in gluten-free options—there are also jack-o’-lantern cake pops (currently available at the Denman Street location). The only danger to picking up these sugary treats is the fact that you might finish them entirely before you even get to your destination.

      Pumpkin Ale: a Halloween treat for adults.

      Steamworks Pumpkin Ale

      A wise man (that lead drunkard from Guided by Voices, in case you’re curious) once described retail liquor outlets as candy stores for adults. We’re not going to argue with that, especially during the time of year when shelves are awash in pumpkin beer. Believe it or not, beer brewed with the most famous member of the gourd family isn’t exactly new; long before Halloween became a thing, colonial settlers in the U.S. were using pumpkin meat in place of malt. But it’s only since the craft-beer revolution took root that the offerings in local stores have exploded in number. A can’t-miss option in Metro Vancouver is Steamworks Pumpkin Ale, with 100 pounds of pumpkin in every batch, along with generous scoops of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Should your local liquor store be out, consider Red Racer Spiced Pumpkin Ale (an amber seasonal that’s light enough for your teetotalling, pun’kin-muffin-baking grandma) or Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin Ale (a Pacific Northwest modern classic previously only available down south). Yes, pumpkins are good for something other than making pies, jack-o’-lanterns, seasonal lattes at Starbucks, and populating biomes in Minecraft Overworlds. Who knew that beer in October could be every bit as delicious and nutritious as candy?

      Eye-catching and delicious Halloween chocolates from Purdy's.

      Purdy's Chocolatier, various locations

      We're guessing that, back when he opened his first outlet in Vancouver in 1907, Richard C. Purdy probably didn't imagine his line of confections would grow to include Ogre Eyeballs and Goblin’s Grave coffin-shaped boxes of chocolate. No matter, the heritage chocolatier gets heavily into Halloween these days, with ghoulishly good treats. The aforementioned foil-covered eyeballs, complete with anatomically correct corneas and a serious need for Visine, come in milk and dark chocolate, packed up in a bag with a black-and-orange bow ($12). The Grave coffin contains some of the line's more upscale filled chocolates, including a beloved Hedgehog and the to-die-for Himalayan Pink Salt Caramel ($12). For added colour at your costume party, grab the bright-foil-covered, Day-of-the-Dead-themed Sugar Skull chocolates ($3.25 for one or $9 for three), Monster Mash jellybeans in containers of orange, zombie-green, and purple ($11 for 200 grams), or good old-fashioned candy corn ($8 for 200 grams)—a devilish concoction that predates even Purdys.

      Running every Thursday, Vancouver Weekend spotlights five Straight-approved places around the city worth discovering.