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Dark chocolate can have a bitter aftertaste, but even at 99%, customers praise this bar for its smooth, subtle, and interesting flavors without the puckering bitterness at the end. It’s deeply and densely flavored, so lovers of dark chocolate will be satisfied, but it might be an acquired taste for some. This bar is also available in a mini version for those who just want a sample, as well as in a collection of five bars ranging from this intense bar all the way to white chocolate, for a complete chocolate experience.
Jacques Torres, nicknamed Mr. Chocolate, has several retail locations in New York and a wide range of chocolates, cookies, baking mixes, hot chocolate, and other treats. With all those options, we had a hard time picking one bar to represent the brand, but we ultimately landed on the "Brûlée Crunch" milk chocolate bar. With the crunch of caramelized sugar, the flavor of perfect custard, and the creaminess of milk chocolate, it’s an appealing bar for lovers of milk chocolate without being too fussy. Along with the standard selections, there are seasonal and holiday chocolates that are always worth a look (or rather, a taste!).
White chocolate may not be as universally loved as its darker siblings, but it has its fans. This white chocolate bar is made from single origin cocoa butter from the Philippines, organic cane sugar, and goat’s milk powder for a sweet, rich, buttery, delicate flavor. The company believes in fair prices for its farmers, which includes profit sharing. To be completely transparent to customers, it publishes a complete bean purchase history showing the prices paid along with comparisons to fair trade and other pricing metrics.
This bar contains just two simple ingredients: organic cocoa beans and organic cane sugar. But with just those two ingredients, it took home several awards from The International Chocolate Salon including gold for best taste and best texture, silver for the best dark chocolate bar, and an honorable mention for best chocolate bar. Besides producing tasty chocolate bars, Maverick prides itself on purchasing beans directly from farmers at sustainable prices, and the website includes information on exactly which beans are used for different batches of bars. The current bars are made from Tanzania Kokoa Kamili cocoa beans.
Valrhona has long been a favorite for bakers and chocolatiers, offering a wide variety of both flavors and forms. While the same chocolate is available in a bar, serious bakers will appreciate this 1-kilogram bag of oval pieces that are easy to melt but can also be chopped to add to cookies and other baked goods. The 70% bittersweet chocolate is described as having bitterness, flowery notes, and a lingering flavor. If the flavor is too intense, Valrhona has lighter chocolates, all the way to toasty blonde and white chocolates, and if this form isn’t quite right, there are chips, bars, pearls, and powders as well.
The good news is that chocolate has antioxidants that are good for us, but candy bars will probably never be considered a health food. The Health Bars from L.A. Burdick tip the balance towards good-for-you by including tasty and healthy additions to each of these bars. One includes goji berries, blueberries, and cocoa nibs. A second bar includes hazelnuts, flax seeds, and raisins. And the last includes apricots, pumpkin seeds, and pink peppercorns. Each is made with dark chocolate and natural ingredients, and all are vegan.
Not only is this zero-sugar bar keto- and diabetes-friendly, it also won gold for the best chocolate bar from the International Chocolate Salon. The Himalayan-salted chocolate is also organic, vegan, and has just two net carbs per bar, so it’s easy to keep track while having a tasty snack.
Compartes makes a wide variety of creatively flavored chocolate bars, like cookies and cream, campfire s’mores, hazelnut toast, nightcap whisky, and birthday cake, but we had to pick the Pink Elephants bar for its intriguing name, fanciful design, and tasty crunch of animal cracker cookies. It’s the perfect combination of childhood flavors, party colors, and sophisticated chocolate. When bars aren’t on your list, the company sells chocolates designed for holidays as well as custom chocolates for businesses and events.
A favorite among chocolate lovers, Raaka has combined three of its bestsellers into a bundle that makes it easy to sample several flavors and get familiar with the brand. Even better, the price of this three-pack is quite reasonable compared to some other premium bars. One thing that sets Raaka apart from other chocolates is that the beans are not roasted. According to Raaka, this makes the chocolate bolder, brighter, and fruitier. The set includes one Pink Sea Salt Unroasted Dark Chocolate bar, one Bourbon Cask Ages Unroasted Dark Chocolate bar, and one Oat Milk Unroasted Dark Chocolate bar. All of these are certified organic, kosher, non-GMO, and free of gluten, dairy, and soy.
Award-winning chef Thomas Keller of The French Laundry fame has teamed up with Armando Manni to create K&M chocolates using a small amount of Manni’s extra-virgin organic olive oil in place of cocoa butter. According to K&M, this helps to boost the antioxidants and gives the chocolate a smooth texture. The full collection box is a great way to sample all the flavors from mild to dark to flavored, and it makes a perfect gift as well. The collection includes 12 bars, but the collection may vary depending on which bars are available.
Mo’s Bacon Bar from Vosges Chocolate was a game-changer. It started as a milk chocolate bar, but now it’s also available in this dark chocolate version where the salty-sweet bacon is a perfect foil for the rich, dark, 72% chocolate. It’s great as a novelty for bacon lovers in a gift basket with breakfast items, and just as good as a tasty snack any other time.
While most chocolate is imported to the US, we have some very fine chocolate coming from Hawaii. Waialua Estate has a limited product line, selling just a few types of chocolate as well as Hawaiian coffee beans, but they’ve still managed to snag a few awards from the International Chocolate Salon. The cocoa nib bar has the added interest of the crunchy nibs in a bar that’s just slightly more intense than milk chocolate. Since these ship from Hawaii, it’s important to consider safe shipping, particularly in warm weather, as well as shipping costs for the distance. These can be shipped with a chill pack to make sure the chocolate arrives safely, even if the weather is warm.
Barry Callebaut invented ruby chocolate, derived from ruby cocoa beans with special processing to bring out the color and flavor, and that chocolate is now available for consumers from several chocolate companies. The Chocolove version incorporates a bit of vanilla, but the ruby chocolate’s subtle berry-like flavor still shines. While this bar is meant for eating, it would be a fun addition to baked goods, with the dusty rose pink color adding interest to cookies, brownies, or scones.
From her very first chocolate milk to her current stash of indulgent treats, Donna Currie has sampled and savored a vast variety of chocolates in every possible form. After a bit more research, she compiled a list of chocolate bars that will satisfy any chocolate lover.