Since people first began roasting and consuming cacao beans some 2,000 years ago, chocolate has become a universal symbol of indulgence; something special to share with those you love. There are few gifts better suited to giving (and receiving), particularly at this time of year. Here are a few chocolate shops and chocolatiers worth seeking out on your travels. Masters of their craft, they are elevating chocolate to exceptionally delicious new levels.
SOMA Chocolatemaker, Toronto
Must try: Birch Branch
Filled with hazelnut butter crunch and sour cherry jelly, the birch branch is one of many tree-inspired treats at SOMA—there’s even a cedar- and oak-infused chocolate in the works.
Mast Brothers, Brooklyn
Must try: Goat Milk Chocolate
The Mast Brothers craft bars straight from the cocoa bean. Their goat milk bar is 60%, and, like the others, has its own tasting notes: lemon curd, thyme and toasted meringue.
Chocolat de Chloe, Montreal
Must try: Monsieur Croquant
Crisp honeycomb sponge toffee, made in-house and dunked by the chunk in smooth, dark Valrhona chocolate, is among the most popular of this shop’s whimsical, well-crafted confections.
JACEK Chocolate Couture, Edmonton
Must try: The Credo Bar
A bean-to-bar dark chocolate, the Credo is blended with whole-bean espresso. The rest of JACEK’s artisan bar collection is inspired by fashion icons and is available full-sized or in boxed sets. (jacekchocolate.com)
Chocolate Tofino, Tofino, B.C.
Must try: Dutch Chocolate Gelato
This teeny shop is known both for its homemade gelato and for its exquisite chocolates. Combine the two by ordering the dense, rich chocolate gelato in a crisp, chocolate-dipped waffle cone.
Beta5 Chocolates, Vancouver
Must try: Salted Chocolate Caramels
Soft, milk chocolate caramels coated in 63% dark chocolate and finished with flaky sea salt—these treats reflect the craftsmanship that goes into each Beta5 creation.
Dandelion Chocolate, San Francisco
Must try: European Drinking Chocolate
This decadent drink is made with Dandelion’s own award-winning bean-to-bar chocolate, which is crafted on-site every day except Sunday. Bonus: You can sit in the café and watch the process.
Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate, Eureka, Calif.
Must try: Black Fig Bar
An elegant combination of California black mission figs and 72% Madagascar chocolate, this bar is just one of the many highlights among Dick Taylor‘s small-batch creations.
Padovani Chocolates, Honolulu
Must try: Manoa Honey with Lilikoi Ganache
The incorporation of local flavours like mango, coffee and honey is typical in the chocolates crafted here; the lilikoi (Hawaiian for passion fruit) used in this bar has a sweet, delicate flavour.