Sweet Spots
Innovative Valentine sweets made by small companies.
By Brandi Stewart

(FORTUNE Small Business) – Plush Puffs Marshmallows $8 for six

Celebrities at last year's Golden Globe Awards were treated to a new sugary snack before the show: hand-whipped marshmallows from Plush Puffs, a Sherman Oaks, Calif., candymaker. Ann Hickey, 44, a former health educator at the University of Southern California, founded Plush Puffs in 2004 to create a somewhat healthier marshmallow. Hickey adds less corn syrup than mainstream brands, using honey to sweeten most of her 15 varieties and a pumpkin extract to flavor her newest puff, pumpkin praline. plushpuffs.com

Little Flower Candy's Sea Salt Caramels $26 a pound

Christine Moore, 43, fell for the savory taste of sea salt caramels while working in a Parisian pastry shop. When she became a stay-at-home mom in 1999, she created her own recipes, using hand-harvested salt from France's ancient salt flats. Moore, based in Los Angeles, sells her caramels at about 50 gourmet retailers around the country and to the Four Seasons Resort in Palm Beach. She limits the size of her orders—each batch requires about three hours of constant stirring. littleflowercandyco.com

Hammond's Candies' Lollipops $15 for four

When Whole Foods Market requested more natural-flavored candies from Hammond's Candies in 2005, owner Bob List, now 70, increased the recipes that substituted ingredients such as red-beet powder for food dye. Hammond's, based in Denver, now sells seven flavors of natural candy, using the copper-kettle manufacturing process it started with back in 1920. hammondscandies.com

The Popcorn Suite's Strawberry Shortcake $24 for four boxes

To evoke the taste of a dish of strawberries and cream, Anita Mazurek, 38, coats popcorn with strawberry syrup and white chocolate. Mazurek, who worked at a popcorn stand in college, quit her job as a manager at Microsoft in 2003 and founded the Popcorn Suite. The company, based in Malvern, Pa., sells mostly to corporations such as Microsoft, which use the candy as employee gifts and distribute it at corporate events. popcornsuite.com