There is perhaps no dessert as universally loved as chocolate. From creamy and deep milk chocolate to a pleasantly bittersweet or even floral note in the best artisan bar, it’s no wonder the best chocolate has come to symbolize everyday luxury, to inspire love. and even to stimulate the works of.
From its satisfying snap, rich aroma and slow melting way on the tongue, to its range of flavors, toppings, and types (milk, dark, white, ruby), the chocolate bar options are apparently infinite.
But not all chocolates are created equal. Of course, a KitKat bar from the grocery store checkout line will always be perfect for us. But we wanted to share some of the top quality beans (and cocoa butter) that are nothing short of mouthwatering culinary art. Here are some of our all-time favorite premium bars that we think make a phenomenal gift and – even better – a treat for yourself. (And yes, we dutifully savored them.)
Jessica Dolcourt / CNET
Chuao’s Chocolatier bars burst onto the scene the same way his iconic Firecracker bar bursts in your mouth – unmistakably gourmet and unabashedly fun. The bursting candy ingredient in this particular bar skillfully departs from the realm of whimsical children’s confection with its heady touches of chipotle and sea salt scattered in an ocean of dark chocolate. Just perfect.
Rich chocolate studded with smart, unique and often whimsical elements is what sets Chuao chocolate bars apart, and we’re obsessed with it. Baconluxious, Potato Chip, and Salted Chocolate Crunch play with both sweet and savory flavors, but we also tracked down the shocking Carrot Cake (made with caramelized white chocolate, it tastes like an iced cream cheese cake), crispy Mint Brownie and Totally Tangy Mango. Cheeky Churro and Pretzel Toffee Twirl also became instant favorites.
Available at Whole Foods, Amazon, and a range of other retail and online stores, Chuao Chocolate Bars come in whole bars, multi-packs, and small bites. Full-size bars range from around $ 5.50 to $ 7 apiece, and there are occasional sales.
Jessica Dolcourt / CNET
Mirzam Chocolate Makers is nothing short of a revelation. We first stumbled across this gourmet bar bean outfit from Dubai, UAE at an upscale market on the rugged, windswept coast of Northern California. We located the tag at a specialty store in Salt Lake City and loaded the cart. Safe to say we’re addicted.
It starts with the beautiful piece of art that envelops each bar of milk, white and dark chocolate as if it were a precious gift. (Shipped into an inky night sky, sand dunes stretching as far as the eye can see – Mirzam consciously hires regional artists.) Chocolate melts on your tongue.
White chocolate infused with saffron is warm, comforting, rich and sophisticated. The bar with orange blossom and toasted almonds is always a dream. Rose and pistachio; coffee and cardamom; figs, star anise and cinnamon: every Mirzam chocolate bar makes us want more. Mirzam bars range from $ 10 to $ 13. There are some strains available on Amazon, but Caputo’s, linked below, has the widest American selection we’ve seen so far.
Jessica Dolcourt / CNET
When Vosges Haut Chocolat appeared in 1998, its global flavors of smoked almond, turmeric, matcha, ginger and coconut rocked the chocolate world. Vosges helped redefine how ambitious, creative and exciting a candy bar can be. Not Candy, Chocolate. (Back in the day, a Lindt dark chocolate bar with almonds was one of the more premium candy bars readily available.)
Mo’s Bacon Bar with dark chocolate (72% cocoa) and deep milk chocolate (45% cocoa) may have made the biggest noise when the brand started, but its founder, Katrina Markoff, developed flavors. seductive, flawless texture and intrepid flavor combinations that make Vosges an everyday extravaganza. Its boutiques are a destination of choice whenever you are in Chicago.
You will find flavors ranging from the impeccable Caramel with Pink Salt, a filled bar, to the more adventurous Walnuts and Chanterelle or Black Raspberry with Fermented Black Tea.
These premium chocolate bars are available at Whole Foods, Walmart (beware of some exorbitant prices on individual bars), food stores, Amazon and of course on the Vosges online store. Chocolate typically costs between $ 9 and $ 13 for a full-size bar.
It’s one of our all-time favorite brands because of Chocolove’s huge range of flavors and simply delicious chocolate. There is something for everyone: the milk chocolate fan who wants to play it safe with simple mixes like hazelnut; the dark chocolate lover who wants to poke his taste buds with something like chili mole; the ruby chocolate fan looking to add a touch of passion fruit or pink grapefruit to their bar. While ruby chocolate doesn’t tend to attract as much love as milk or dark, Chocolove’s silky, affordable offerings will have you thinking twice.
In fact, all varieties and flavors of smooth chocolate provide equally creamy and satisfying toppings. One of our favorites is the dark chocolate salted almond butter. It’s the perfect balance between salty and sweet, with the consistency of almond butter housed in a dark chocolate shell. (The dark chocolate almond butter cups are also amazing.) As an added bonus, there’s poetry written inside each bar’s packaging, making it a doubly sweet gesture if you give a gift.
Prices tend to vary between $ 3-4 a bar. You can find Chocolove in grocery stores such as Walmart and Whole Foods, as well as on Amazon and on the Chocolove site.
Ritter Sport is another brand that offers a variety of delicious and unique flavors, including surprisingly amazing cornflakes and spicy cookies. There is also the dark chocolate bar with marzipan perfect in every way. The marzipan filling stands out just enough from the surrounding chocolate to achieve the perfect balance; nothing is under control.
In fact, that’s what makes Ritter Sport a fan favorite. Its bars balance the crunchy chocolate with tasty and fun toppings. Other notable flavors include milk chocolate with butter cookie and dark chocolate with whole hazelnuts.
You can find Ritter Sport at grocery stores like Walmart, Whole Foods, and Target, as well as on Amazon. They tend to cost just under $ 3. Additionally, if you end up in a Ritter Sport retail store, you can also create a custom bar.
If we talk about marzipan, we can’t help but talk about Niederegger. Marzipan fans can choose from the classic bar (made from sweet and sour chocolate), milk chocolate bar, or other orange and ginger bars.
This is possibly one of the best marzipans we have tried. The creamy and delicate nutty of the filling will have you coming back square after square (you warned), and the rich chocolate is also standout on its own.
You can find Niederegger at stores like World Market or on Amazon, and each bar costs around $ 5 to $ 6.
Jessica Dolcourt / CNET
Made in Berkeley, California, Tcho Chocolate has a fascinating origin that includes a NASA “tech assistant”, the founders of Wired Magazine, and a mission to make premium fair trade chocolate bars from cocoa farmers.
The chocolate bars themselves, square and pleasantly thick, are delicious. Caramel and sea salt stand out, alongside toasted corn flakes, mokaccino, banana nuts, and sea salt with almonds. Tcho also manufactures a line of single-origin producer plain and filled bars, including a melting truffle bar made from Ghanaian cocoa beans and a “fruity” chocolate bar from Peru. There are even vegan bars made with oat milk.
Tcho Chocolate has been adopted by Michelin-starred chefs and is available at grocery stores like Whole Foods and other high-end stores, in addition to online retailers including Amazon and Tcho’s website.