Ever notice that when a candy is really good, it doesn’t take a whole lot of it to be satisfying? That’s one of the secrets of successful dieters. They’ll have a few bites of something truly indulgent rather than substitute something that’s less flavorful and lower calorie, but just doesn’t hit the spot. Which varieties are the most satisfying—and worth the calories? We asked candy connoisseur Sue Gillerlain, vice-president of communications at Candy.com, who has sampled hundreds of sweets as part of her job, to help us ID treats that fit the bill.
Dark-chocolate dipped dried apricots. The contrast of flavors and texture–tart, chewy apricots and rich, bittersweet chocolate–make these one of our favorite candies. Look for plump, moist apricots and high-quality chocolate. Each piece weighs in at about 100 calories; gourmet versions can be had from Lake Champlain chocolates and Williams-Sonoma. We also love chocolate-dipped dried tart cherries and kiwi.
Reed’s Ginger Candy. This chewy candy is made with baby ginger (the most mild kind) and sweetened with raw cane sugar. The end result is soft, delicious nuggets with a nice balance of lingering heat and sweet at only 25 calories per piece. Plus, ginger is great for soothing an upset stomach and has anti-inflammatory. Find a store that carries Reed’s products at their website, reedsinc.com
Jelly Belly Chocolate Dips. These gourmet jelly beans dipped in high-quality dark chocolate are way better than you might think, says Sue Gillerlain. “There is something that is really satisfying about them. The chewiness of the jelly beans, the mix of flavors.” Her favorites: Very Cherry and Orange (also available in coconut, raspberry and strawberry.) Check online for a store near you at www.jellybelly.com.
Dove Dark Chocolate Silky Smooth Promises. For people who appreciate portion control and want good chocolate candy that is not exorbitantly priced, individually wrapped Dove Promises (from Mars) are perfect. “They are a great value,” Gillerlain says. Only 35 calories per piece; available at most supermarkets and drugstores.
Tootsie Roll Pop. This hard candy lollipop filled with chocolate-flavored chewy Tootsie roll has been around since 1931, with good reason. There is something inherently satisfying in its consumption, whether you suck it, crunch it, or both. Plus, if you restrain yourself, you can make a Tootsie Roll Pop last a long time. There are even videos on how to eat a Tootsie Roll Pop. 60 calories per pop. Widely available.
Gimbel’s Cherry Lovers and Honey Lovers Chews. This San Francisco company has been making candy since 1898. “Their vitamin-C fruit chews are really wonderful,” Gillerlain says. Cherry Chews are made with real juice and come in nine flavor combinations, including Chocolate Cherry, Bing Cherry and Cherry Daiquiri. Honey Chews come in 16 flavors, including Pomegranate Honey, Honey Dipped Strawberry and Black Cherry Honey. Gimbel's donates 5 percent of proceeds to the University of California Davis "Honey Bee Research Program." Available nationwide.
Tire Tread Black Licorice. Black licorice lovers know that most of the stuff sold in the U.S. is abysmal. There is good black licorice candy to be gotten from Australia, but our favorite, Tire Tread by Tubi, is from Finland. Made with real licorice extract, it’s rich in flavor, chewy, substantial, and long-lasting. 100 calories per piece. Available in pieces or bars, at some drugstores and online.
Original Dark Peanut Chews. This old-time candy favorite was developed as rations for the military during World War I. It continues to have a loyal following. Its combination of crunchy peanuts, sticky molasses and not-too-sweet dark chocolate coating provide stick-to-your ribs contentment. 56 calories per piece. Widely available, or online at justborn.com.