Whether it stems from a desire to celebrate the sweetness of family get-togethers or the urge to pad on a little extra bodily warmth in preparation for the long winter ahead, we all have the tendency to eat more desserts this time of year. Whatever your reason, Willamette Valley Confectionary aims to satisfy those winter sweet tooth cravings with handmade treats worthy of any locavore on your gift list. 

Using berries, fruits, nuts and dairy products from local farms, Willamette Valley Confectionary owner (and former Oregonian columnist) Ken Hoyt's handcrafted candies offer a taste of nostalgia (think peppermint bark, cranberry pâte de fruit, Oregon hazelnut brittle, or caramel corn with dark chocolate, toffee and hazelnut chunks) with a side of regional pride.

The company was founded four years ago in the kitchen of a neighborhood church, with a steadfast commitment to local ingredients (many from farms familiar to regular farmers market goers). Hazelnuts are sourced from Freddy Guys in Monmouth, the berries hail from Sturm's Berry Farm in Corbett, Cherries arrive fresh from Cherry Country, pure peppermint oil comes from the fields of Seeley Family Farm in Clatskanie, and bright red berries are sourced from Brush Prairie Bogs on the Southern Oregon coast.

 The entire line of Hoyt's toffees, barks, fruit candies, and brittles is naturally gluten-free, many options are vegan, and all are free of artificial colorings and preservatives. In addition to local sourcing, the Hoyt's eco-friendly commitment extends to compostable and biodegradable packaging. With ingredients and business practices like these, we can all feel a bit better about our seasonal indulgences.

You can find Willamette Valley Confectionary goods at New Seasons Markets, Whole Foods, Market of Choice, Kitchen Kaboodle, Made in Oregon, and online here