Best chocolate available in the USA?
November 8, 2011 8:45 PM   Subscribe

What's the best chocolate available in the USA?

Mentioned in this question, apparently the chocolate in the USA isn't the greatest in the world.


What is the best chocolate I can get in the USA? Holiday gift giving time is approaching...
posted by Marky to Shopping (49 answers total) 78 users marked this as a favorite

It's awesome and they make good gift packs.
posted by bitdamaged at 8:52 PM on November 8, 2011

Someone once sent me truffles by DeBrand and I, as a chocosnob, was blown away by their awesomeness.
posted by bolognius maximus at 9:01 PM on November 8, 2011

I'm sure there's better fancy artisan niche market chocolate out there, but for widely available, not super pricey, and really good (I am British, so don't worry that my palate is off) Green and Blacks or Vosges is up there. Both are at Whole Foods and other expensive/good food type places. Both make bars in various flavors, Vosges are experimental and weird (wasabi and sesame, bacon, pink peppercorn...) Green and Blacks are more traditional (milk, white, dark, ginger, mint etc). Vosges also make a bunch of other stuff like boxed chocolates and toffee, but their bars are what's widely available.
posted by crabintheocean at 9:03 PM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

I am a big fan of La Maison Du Chocolat. Their truffles are incredible.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:10 PM on November 8, 2011

The third link in this post does an excellent job of explaining the world of high-class chocolate.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:14 PM on November 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

(tl;dr -- It all comes from a handful of suppliers.)
posted by Sys Rq at 9:17 PM on November 8, 2011

posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:28 PM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

I like Lake Champlain Chocolates from Vermont.
posted by JDC8 at 9:30 PM on November 8, 2011 [6 favorites]

scharffenberger is pretty good.
posted by Strass at 9:33 PM on November 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

Generally when people talk about how crappy American chocolate is, they're talking about the major brand cheap stuff sold in all the supermarkets and drug stores across America - stuff that's more sugar than chocolate and doesn't even really taste chocolaty at all. If what you're looking for is good quality chocolate that you can buy at a store located near you, you've got much more of a chance of landing a good chocolate bar at a natural foods or gourmet store.

Others have made good recommendations already, but I love a couple of Theo's fantasy flavor chocolate bars, particularly their coconut curry bar (it is very potent with the curry) and the bread & chocolate bar which is surprisingly tasty. They're sold in some stores and have a store locator on the website to see if they sell it around where you live. I haven't tried any of their non-flavored bars because the flavored ones are fun, but they make just regular chocolate bars too.
posted by wondermouse at 9:36 PM on November 8, 2011 [5 favorites]

tl;dr -- It all comes from a handful of suppliers.)

I must be blind, I didn't see that in the article. Noka is pretty much selling chocolate bars for $300 a pound compared to Fran's for $65 a pound or Maison Du Chocolat for $85 a pound.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:37 PM on November 8, 2011

I second TCHO. They also have a nice social justice-y angle.

(I actually really like Theo's too, but they're more about the inventive flavors - the chocolate itself doesn't seem as high quality).
posted by bubukaba at 9:39 PM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Askinosie is about as fantatically intense as you can get about cacao.
posted by alexandermatheson at 9:47 PM on November 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

can't believe my first ever comment on MeFi is going to be about chocolate, but here goes: Burdick's has ambrosial status in these parts.
posted by idlethink at 9:51 PM on November 8, 2011 [3 favorites]

It really depends on where you are. Having grown up a fifteen-minute drive from them, Asher's is a favorite of mine, but I may be partial.

It's only readily available in southeast Pennsylvania, which somehow didn't stop me from finding their chocolate-covered pretzels at Nagoya station in Japan. It was a confusing day.
posted by DoctorFedora at 10:06 PM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Are you looking for American chocolate, or just chocolate in America. Because a Teuscher Chocolate might be available near you. I like Valrhona which you can get at Trader Joe's sometimes.

For American chocolate, there's Moonstruck Chocolate that you can from fancy natural food stores or directly from them.
posted by fiercekitten at 10:33 PM on November 8, 2011

Seconding Askinosie. Also, Amano.
posted by beetsuits at 10:52 PM on November 8, 2011

Here to second Theo. Theo actually makes chocolate, from bean to bar. And they're sticklers for purity: a normal dark chocolate bar has just three ingredients: cocoa, sugar, vanilla. Milk chocolate adds milk powder. That's it. No soy lecithin, to make it waxy. It's just pure chocolate.

They tend to be carried at Whole Foods, too, which is nice, but they'll ship their amazing confections or flavors bars anywhere. They're absolutely fantastic. And if you're in the Seattle area, you can take a tour for $6, which is something I found out about from AskMe and ended up doing. It was lovely!
posted by disillusioned at 10:53 PM on November 8, 2011 [4 favorites]

Are you looking for Milk Chocolate? Or Dark Chocolate?
posted by 2oh1 at 10:54 PM on November 8, 2011

Poco Dolce is absolutely delicious.
posted by shivohum at 11:01 PM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm hardly a gourmand, but I damn sure can taste good chocolate, and some of the best I've had in years has come from French Broad Chocolates in Asheville, NC. The truffle selection is excellent - everyone I've given a box to as a gift has raved about the stuff - and the vegan chocolates are so incredibly rich and flavorful you would not think they were vegan without being told. As an added bonus, MeFi's own lazaruslong works there.

Can't recommend their chocolate highly enough; it matches anything I've had elsewhere.
posted by mediareport at 11:25 PM on November 8, 2011 [3 favorites]

"Good" and "bad" chocolate is really about what you are accustomed to. I grew up in the US, so I have a soft spot in my heart for Hersheys and actually like the taste, consistency and grittiness most Europeans find sub-standard. Even though I have lived on this side of the pond for almost 20 years, I still do not like the Irish and UK standard for mass market chocolate, ie Cadbury's. I much prefer continental chocolate. When I just want something really good I can throw in my cart at the grocery store or find at the local minimart, I second Green & Black's.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:21 AM on November 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Bremen Hachez brand (link to random us seller) produces some quite awesome chocolate.
Specifically, they don't speed up the necessary conching time by adding emulsifiers, which results in one of the smoothest chocolates on the market (apart from a few small-batch brands I've tested). You'll have to find your faves in their repertoire, though, not everything is fantastic (two self links).
posted by Namlit at 12:59 AM on November 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Since it seems like you're interested in gift-worthy chocolate, L.A. Burdicks, as already mentioned, is pretty damn good. It's hard to beat their signature chocolate mice for the cute factor, but I'm also fond of Candinas. Their truffles are lovely, and while their flavors aren't quite as creative as Theo, they definitely try some different things. It's undoubtedly good chocolate, but I also think the overall presentation with their cool mod box art is really excellent.
posted by Diagonalize at 2:16 AM on November 9, 2011

Mast Brothers
posted by bricoleur at 2:55 AM on November 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

For everyday chocolate, check out Aldi. I find chocolate from the German discount supermarkets in the UK (Aldi and Lidl) to be excellent, with a good range of different cocoa content to suit all tastes.
posted by essexjan at 3:04 AM on November 9, 2011

Seconding Teuscher. Their champagne truffles (which you can get in milk and dark chocolate) are to die for. Not cheap, but well worth it.
posted by Anima Mundi at 3:32 AM on November 9, 2011

For something that (to me) tastes totally different from American and European chocolates, I'd recommend trying Taza. It's a Mexican-style chocolate that's entirely different in texture and flavor than what you may be used to. They sell and sample a lot around here (I'm in Cambridge, MA, and their company is in Somerville, I believe), and everyone I know who's tried it really likes it, though it is "different."
posted by xingcat at 4:06 AM on November 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'd ask the folks at French Broad Chocolates in Asheville, NC. They are seeeerious about chocolate, and in what feels like a freshfaced American-y way--focus on local, ethical, obsessively researched ingredients, surprising combos that make sense the more you think about multicultural history through textbooks (stoneground grits in their xocolatl), etc. And they stock a bajillion small-batch chocolate bars from all over too. They have a website, but it's wonderful to go in person too. Mon Aimee Chocolat in Pittsburgh's Strip District was also a great introduction to chocolate you don't hear it about enough; it was how, in college over a decade ago, I discovered Cote d'Or and Cafe Tasse. Mmm.
posted by ifjuly at 4:39 AM on November 9, 2011

And for stuff you can find just anywhere, I'd nth the reccs above for Theo and add Dagoba, specifically their Xocolatl bar. It was my favorite everyday-pick-me-up-style chocolate bar for years. I haven't had it in a while and I think I might've read somewhere Dagoba got bought a while back (grr) so they may have messed with the formula, but for a long time it put all the other versions of "spice + chocolate" to total shame. It would kind of give me a physical high similar to how rosewater saffron pistachio gelato would (could never figure that out...).

For baking, it's a well known secret that Callebaut is favored by many for its price point to value ratio.
posted by ifjuly at 4:47 AM on November 9, 2011

Agreeing with everyone who suggested that the sentiment in the original thread was regarding "commodity chocolate" - your Hersheys, etc that you pick up in the grocery store. There are hundreds of artisan chocolatiers in the US who are making chocolates that are as good as you'd find anywhere else, sourcing their own materials completely separately of the supply chain. It's just a matter of seeking it out and spending a little more, as opposed to running down to Safeway and picking up some.

I'm not sure where you're located, but here in Kansas City, Christopher Elbow is doing some amazing stuff - he also has a store in San Francisco.
posted by jferg at 4:52 AM on November 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Here is the abstract to an article about Dagoba I remember reading a few years back in The New Yorker. I loved the whole "they messed around with ingredients in their little apartment with their blender, and traveled extensively to see things firsthand" bit at the beginning.

Whoa, a Mefite works at French Broad!! My hats off to you, lazaruslong. When we visited Asheville this summer we "toured" the Moog Factory and the guy who gave us the tour went on and on and on about French Broad, 12 Bones, and Salsas, and he was spot on about all of them. My husband loves chocolate but rarely gets to eat it because he takes issue with the child slavery thing, so when he CAN eat it it's a big deal...well. Walking into French Broad practically made his clothes explode he was so excited. Wonderful place.
posted by ifjuly at 5:03 AM on November 9, 2011

Kron makes other-worldly truffles.

(Suggested wine pairing: this)
posted by Mayor West at 5:09 AM on November 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

They really know their stuff at the French Broad Chocolate Lounge, as previously stated. They have a commitment to fair labor practices and high quality, and they even grow their own cacao in Costa Rica! And the maple bacon ice cream paired with liquid chocolate truffle... there are no words.
posted by rikschell at 5:55 AM on November 9, 2011

If the person you're giving the gift to generally has fancy tastes: Whatever you can find that's handmade locally is probably going to be the best. My friend lives less than five miles from Parfections and it's amazing. On the other hand, a couple of the truffles are very spicy, a lot of them have alcohol, and a lot of them just have strong flavors. If the person you're giving the gift to generally likes simple foods, then I would probably go with a larger store--like Moonstruck (you can get a whole box of just sea salt caramels.. omg).
posted by anaelith at 6:11 AM on November 9, 2011

There's always Godiva. (I think they are better at telling you how expensive they are than they are at making chocolate, but I'll leave it to you to decide for yourself.)
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 6:31 AM on November 9, 2011

Poco Dolce burnt caramel tiles.

Fran's caramels, especially the dark chocolate ones topped with grey sea salt.
posted by emelenjr at 6:32 AM on November 9, 2011

Oprah, Martha, and I all love John & Kira's.
posted by jrichards at 6:35 AM on November 9, 2011

I like dagoba lavender bar.. but I haven't tried any of the more fancy chocolates. Dagoba is often on sale in WF, 3 small bars for $5! I know Lindt is mass-market chocolate but I still do like their truffles and various fruit-filled bars. I think these two are some of the better ones you can find in regular stores.
posted by rainy at 7:00 AM on November 9, 2011

I sometimes get my mom fancy-pants boutiquey chocolates as a gift, especially if they're local to where I live. She liked Vosges, was quite impressed with Teuscher's champagne truffles, but Burdick was her favorite. No comment from her on the Taza chocolate I got her. Taza is kind of... rustic, I'd say. It's delicious, but the texture is a little grainy - I think the sugar doesn't dissolve completely. Taza would be good for someone a little hipstery rather than someone who's used to fancy bonbons.

Which brings me to another point: for gift-giving, the packaging and presentation of the chocolate is important, too. For example, Vosges and Theo both have delicious and creative chocolate bars, but their packaging and branding are different. I'd give Vosges to someone who regularly shopped at upscale department stores, and I'd give Theo to someone who shopped at Etsy and indie boutiques. If you're having trouble deciding between two brands, go with the nicer box.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:40 AM on November 9, 2011

(On a mass-market level, I know an actual French person who likes the Lindt sea salt bars. I think they're pretty good too, but I have kiddish soft spot for Hershey's and Cadbury, so what do I know?

In Minneapolis, most of the co-ops carry chocolates from tiny local makers - you might want to check out independent co-ops.)
posted by Frowner at 7:49 AM on November 9, 2011

Many of the ones listed above are great, especially Maison du Chocolat. I'll go with my hometown favorite, L.A. Burdick.
posted by chickenmagazine at 8:17 AM on November 9, 2011

>> (tl;dr -- It all comes from a handful of suppliers.)

> I must be blind, I didn't see that in the article.

Did you read the whole thing? All ten parts? It's most definitely in there. Kinda the whole point of the article, really.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:27 AM on November 9, 2011

I'm gonna throw Bissinger's, out of St. Louis, into the mix here.
posted by DaddyNewt at 9:06 AM on November 9, 2011

Grenada Chocolate. "We are one of the only small-scale chocolate-makers producing fine chocolate where the cocoa grows. Because small batch chocolate-making is very rare, we had to create our own processing methods, desigining our own machines and refurbishing antique equipment to meet the requirements of our unique situation." "The original impetus and principle of our cooperative company is to revolutionize the cocoa-chocolate system that typically keeps cocoa production separate from chocolate-making and therefore takes advantage of cocoa farmers."
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 9:15 AM on November 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

Are you looking for chocolate (the substance, i.e., the raw ingredient in chocolates) or chocolates (fancy sweets made by chocolatiers, like truffles etc., which incorporate chocolate as a primary ingredient)?

If the latter, my personal recommendation is Christopher Michael Chocolates. Each one is a work of art visually as well as gastronomically.
posted by yoink at 11:26 AM on November 9, 2011

Wilbur chocolate is my favorite. It's in Lititz Pa but they ship everywhere. I dream about their triple chocolate covered almonds. It's my only source for dipping chocolate. I buy a 10 pound block of their Bronze Metal semisweet at the beginning of every strawberry season. I prefer the block to the wafers.
posted by myselfasme at 12:33 PM on November 9, 2011

There are hundreds of artisan chocolatiers in the US who are making chocolates that are as good as you'd find anywhere else, sourcing their own materials completely separately of the supply chain.

Just wanted to see that again.

Oh, and the French Broad is a river in western NC, in case anyone's wondering.
posted by mediareport at 3:43 PM on November 9, 2011

Socola makes unique, handmade in small quantities, and not crazy expensive chocolates. I can personally vouch for the deliciousness of the Guava pate de fruit (made from scratch.) Plus they sell online!
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 1:58 AM on November 15, 2011

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