We've never met a piece of chocolate we'd pass up, but artisan vendors are seriously taking the chocolate game to a whole new level.
Though the fruits of an artisan chocolate maker may be a little harder to find, the effort is well worth it. Their small-batch confections are above and beyond the mass-produced candies we are so used to eating. If you are looking for a chocolate-eating experience that is truly gourmet — and obsession-worthy — do yourself a favor and seek out some of these brands. Just be warned — you'll never look at a Hershey's bar or Reese's the same way again.
Patric Chocolate is a small chocolate producer in Columbia, Missouri, that prides themselves on "doing it all from bean to bar to bonbon," according to their Instagram account. Due to their hand-selected beans, their craft chocolates are as complex as the highest-quality wines.
The only hitch with Patric is that their treats are not always readily available, but you can sign up to be on their monthly bar-release newsletter on their website.
You might have seen a box of Vermont's Lake Champlain Chocolates floating around out there at one point or another — but did you know that Lake Champlain is actually healthy chocolate? Well, as healthy as candy can be, anyway. Lake Champlain is proud to use preservative-free, all-natural ingredients to create a wealth of truffles, hot chocolate mixes and chocolate bars that are kosher as well. Did we mention their Maple Crunches are to die for?
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Vosges' mission statement is "Peace, Love, and Chocolate," and that's a motto we can really get behind. The company was started by Katrina Markoff in her Chicago apartment and has blossomed into an imaginative, playful vendor devoted to coming up with wild pairings like chocolate and chilies, chocolate and flowers and chocolate and bacon.
"We harness the power of storytelling to open minds, spirits and palates through the medium of esteemed chocolate, inspiring us all to interact with the world in a new and creative way," their website reads.
If you recognize the name, that's because Payard is the creation of legendary confectioner François Payard. His café in New York serves his famous chocolates and cakes, and now you can purchase his creations online to enjoy at home. His amazing truffle selections are not cheap — a 16-piece box will run you $36 — but they are worth every penny.
Christopher Elbow is an artisan chocolatier based in Kansas City, Missouri. He is a classically trained chef who has worked as a pastry chef for big names like Emeril Lagasse. Now Elbow works like a mad scientist creating everything from bourbon chocolates to melt-in-your-mouth candied fruit squares — and even an amazing variety of drinking chocolates.
Before you go, check out our slideshow below.
Originally published February 2013. Updated November 2016.
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