The best holiday chocolates for gift-giving are made by the hands of artisans—most of whom are small business owners who consider chocolate making a personal passion. In fact, if you are keen to support hard-working small businesses, many of which are owned by women and minorities, buying chocolates is an easy way to do that. While trends come and go, quality is always appreciated and these chocolatiers have put their heart and soul into pursuit of the best—sourcing ultra-premium chocolate, grinding their own beans, and experimenting with inventive flavor and textural combinations. This year, consider gifting someone special a box of single origin truffles or a virtual truffle making classes (complete with ingredients). Here’s your guide to some of the nation’s finest, award-winning, handmade chocolates.
Dandelion Chocolates: For the dark chocolate lover, there can be no other choice…Dandelion’s supremely intense and decadent Single Origin Truffle Collection (five origins, fifteen truffles) celebrates the dramatically different flavor profiles of Colombia, Ecuador, Belize, Tanzania and Madagascar. The Hot Chocolate Trio is yet another dark chocolate adventure with three custom blended expressions, but the perfect gift this season just might be their interactive truffle making class. You’ll receive a box filled with everything you need to make your own truffles at home; all you need to do is sign up for one of their virtual classes. Dandelion crafts everything by hand in small batches from select cacao beans.
CocoTutti: Each one of these small-batch award-winning chocolates delivers on flavor and artistry. The dazzling selection of textures, sizes and shapes creates a confetti-like assortment of chocolates in flavor combinations that will seduce even the strictest dieter (think strawberry-balsamic, hot chipotle chocolate, whiskey & caramel, or La Kama Moroccan lime). You might also opt for a few stocking-stuffers and order one of their ganache-filled chocolate bars; the Blood Orange delivers a savory, mouth-watering citrusy contrast to the dark chocolate—it’s almost too beautiful to eat. If you can’t decide—the CocoCurated box combines the mini-chocolates with a selection of filled bars and roasted almond toffee.
Recchiuti Chocolatier: Traditional European methods of artisan chocolate making define this award-winning brand, as do their signature blends of single-origin chocolates—like a good wine, blending the best flavor components of different origins into a balanced, heavenly bite of decadence. Consider the Sur de Lago–a blend of milk and Venezuelan varietal chocolate infused with vanilla beans and topped with crushed cacao nibs. Gift the ultimate expression of everything they do best at Recchiuti and go for the Burgundy Box—three layers of satiny, beautifully crafted chocolates deliver an exploration of flavors and textures. Any chocolate fanatic will be thrilled.
ChocAllure: Owner and Maître Chocolatier Liron Gal, who trained in the prestigious Ecole Lenôtre in Paris, as well as the Barry Callebaut chocolate academy in Chicago, brings a stylish colorful energy to her chocolates. Says Gal, each one of her Chocolate Jewels is a “miniature composed dessert, featuring flavors inspired by the world of French patisserie.” Decadent, richly textured bites infused with flavors such as crème brulee, dark chocolate tartlet, and mousse au chocolate are as much a feast for the eyes as they are the palate.
Thierry Atlan: Atlan received France’s coveted title of Meilleur Ouvrier de France Chocolatier in 1997, identifying him as one of the best chocolate makers in the country. In 2022, Atlan, along with his daughter Julie, opened the brand’s first retail location in NYC’s SoHo, bringing a taste of his signature chocolates, macarons, and ice creams stateside. Now, his chocolates are available online, and the 25-piece assortment is a sure bet. It’s a decadent mix of both milk and dark chocolate expressions with addictive flavors such as dark chocolate ganache and jasmine tea, fresh mint or vanilla bean caramel.
Phillip Ashley Chocolates: Chocolatier and Chef Phillip Ashley brings colorful design and modern style to his chocolates. The Love Drunk Truffle collection delivers on a wide-range of flavor combinations with milk, white and dark chocolate ganache infusions—XO Cognac, Margarita, Amaretto Peach and Grand Marnier Orange Blossom Honey to name a few. Ashley’s specialty collections, such as the Uncle Nearest x Philip Ashely, feature 24 chocolates, blended with a range of flavors such as orange blossom honey, black sea salt and Uncle Nearest Premium Aged Whiskey.
EH Chocolatier: This Boston-based chocolatier creates the ultimate Advent Calendar, complete with 24 unique chocolates in flavors such as peppermint, brown butter tahini, gingerbread caramel, and Ceylon cinnamon. For the craftier person, their DIY Holiday Forest is hard to resist—it features a 7-page pack, with dielines ready to cut, tape and assemble. The finished Advent Calendar is a colorful forest of 25 little trees each with a chocolate bear inside. And, if you want a bigger gift to share consider booking one of their private virtual tastings, hosted by EHChocolatier Head Chocolatier, Sophie Frazier—participants receive a box of chocolates delivered to their home or office and a Zoom meeting link via email to join the tasting.
Chocolate Uzma: Based in Chicago, Uzma Sharif’s eponymous chocolate brand marries elements of her South Asian Pakistani heritage and classical French culinary training with the essence of chocolate. The 21-piece collection is a nice summary of her talents with silky chocolates blended with an exotic array of flavors— offerings such acarigua, assam, coffee ginger, and Marrakech passion fruit.
Chocolat Moderne: Founder and Chocolatier, Joan Coukos left a globe-trotting banking career to pursue her passion for crafting chocolate. Lucky us. Her dark chocolate collections are a marvelous introduction to the wonders of chocolate—Champagne Chic is just that, Champagne and dark chocolate. And, the Devotion Collection is a marvel with a selection of richly scented dark ganaches—think: Oyasumi Orange dark ganache with orange zest and ginger, Shiso Lime dark ganache infused with Japanese shiso leaf and lime or The Player, where Venezuelan ganache meets single malt scotch.
Michael’s Chocolates: A former career in fine dining and pastry informs chocolatier Michael Benner’s delicious chocolate creations. Try his Coconut Rum, Peanut Butter Crunch, or the decadent dark chocolate and Old Potrero Rye Whiskey truffle. This year Michael worked in partnership with Dandelion Chocolates (also in this article) to create a spirits and craft collection, pairing a selection of barrel-aged spirits with dark chocolate. Think, rye whisky truffles, bourbon caramel pecan bonbons, framboise bonbons and hazelnut espresso pralines with rum.