The most original, creative, and delicious chocolates on the planet are all made right here in America. Chocolates came into existence when ancient Maya and Aztec cultures started mixing ground cacao seeds with various seasonings to make a spicy drink. Now, gourmet chocolates are available in as many shapes, sizes and flavors as you can imagine. Chocolatiers use top secret recipes to come up with the best blend.
Using cacao beans from his family’s farm in the Dominican Republic, Dan Preston performs feats of alchemy that result in bonbons like the Green Demon, filled with anise liqueur. $12 for four; cacaoprieto.com
“Single-origin” chocolate is used as a shell for outstanding caramel fillings and ganaches infused with local beer or smoky chile. $8 for four; nunuchocolates.com Booze Box $12
Los Angeles, CA
Diana Malouf works out of her father’s commercial kitchen to fashion her take on peanut butter cups using less traditional contents, like cashews and apricots or sunflower honey. $22 for nine; ococoa.com
Vosge has several signature flavors, including dark chocolate with ginger and wasabi, and Red Fire, made with ancho and Chipotle chili, cinnamon and dark chocolate. There are also flavors like Finnochio, which is made with wild fennel pollen and dark chocolate. www.vosgeschocolate.com 16 pieces $50.
West Chester, PA
What do you get when you combine the talents of Eric Ripert, Anthony Bourdain, and Christopher Curtin: The Good & Evil chocolate bar. It is the smartest food collaboration so far. $18, eclatcocolate.com
Sebastian Cisneros is a storyteller of sorts, thoroughly scouting his chocolates (the more obscure, the better) and blending them with “secret” ingredients such as coffee, Pop Rocks, or Fernet-Branca. Bar, $5; coca.nu
Craft artisan confections using conscious ingredients and innovative low heat techniques to keep the chocolate’s raw vitality and flavor. They use raw chocolate, which is free of sugar, dairy and additives and very high in antioxidants. Their cacao & coconut chunky bonbon is heavenly. Deluxe Gift Box $68
Chuao Chocolatier, named after the cacao-producing region of Chuao, Venezuela, uses European techniques to make their Venezuelan chocolate. This silky, artisan-crafted hot chocolate from family-owned Chuao Chocolatier was made strictly according to Abuela’s (Grandmother’s) traditional recipe. At its heart? Venezuelan bittersweet chocolate, considered by many to be the finest cacao in the world. To enjoy a rich and creamy cup, simply add hot water. $15 chuaochocolatier
Knipschildt Chocolatier was founded in 1999 by Fritz Knipschildt, who got his culinary education as a chef in Denmark. The most-expensive chocolate he sells is a $250 dark chocolate truffle with a French black truffle inside. It’s made of 70% Valrhona cacao, which is blended into a creamy ganache with truffle oil. www.knipschildt.com Giant Chocolate Box $20