Premium chocolates need not be pricey

Want to sink your teeth into gourmet chocolate this Halloween?

In the past several years, affordable premium chocolates have slipped into the mainstream, taking their place alongside American favorites such as Snickers and Kit Kats. Even household brands are rolling out new lines to keep pace with evolving tastes.

There's no clear-cut definition for what makes chocolate gourmet; it could be organic ingredients, exotic flavors, sleek packaging or a high cocoa content.

“Chocolate has entered the same category as coffee and wine, where everybody has a different opinion about it or different kind they like,” said Susan Smith of the National Confectioners Association.

It's no wonder chocolate accounted for more than half the 3,200 new candy products introduced last year. The National Confectioners Association doesn't track how many of those new chocolate products were gourmet, but says premium chocolate sales grew by 30 percent last year.

A standard Hershey's bar is about 1.5 ounces, but premium bars generally weigh more because the chocolate is denser.