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America’s Top Chocolatiers

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Truffles from Chocolatier Blue. Photo by arnold | inuyaki.

The US is full of amazingly creative and innovative chocolatiers, and this list features only a small sampling of them. With a focus on chocolates made by small companies with an eye for taste and craft, here are five chocolatiers who are leading the charge.

1. Lake Champlain Chocolates

I first heard about this Vermont-based chocolatier via a rave review from Steve Almond in his book Candy Freak. Imagine grown-up versions of your candy-aisle favorites, made kosher and without preservatives. Lake Champlain’s hazelnut and peanut Five Star Bars are the best Snickers replacement I’ve ever found.

Find It: Get Five Star Bars and other Lake Champlain confections at your nearest Whole Foods.

2. Jin Patisserie

A small shop in Venice, CA, Jin Patisserie is run by Kristy Choo, a graduate of the California Culinary Academy. Kristy’s chocolate truffles are informed by her Singaporean upbringing and feature inspired flavor combinations like Earl Grey Feuilletine, Lychee and Black Roasted Sesame. The chocolates are like tiny works of art and are packaged accordingly.

Find It: If you’re ever in the Venice area, Jin Patisserie is a must-stop shop!

3. Mast Brothers Chocolate

Famed as much for their prodigious beards as for their chocolate, these Brooklyn-based brothers have created a niche for themselves in the oft-cluttered market of craft chocolates.

Eating a Mast Brothers chocolate bar is a similar experience to cheese or wine tasting. Their chocolate is meant to be talked about and thought about, its flavor profile examined for specific notes. For that reason, this chocolate is not for everybody. It is definitely not sweet, and has a more complex blend of flavors–ranging from smoky to fruity–than the mass-market chocolate we are used to.

Find It: Buy bars online at Mast Brothers or at a specialty food store near you.

4. Recchiuti Chocolates

Located in the gorgeous gourmet heaven known as the Ferry Building in San Francisco, Recchiuti Chocolates is the brainchild of Michael Recchiuti, who makes art out of chocolate. While Recchiuti makes everything from chocolate-covered, key-lime flavored pears to chocolates designed for whiskey pairing, my favorite creations of his utilize the same technique I use for my chocolate art: hand painting. Many of Recchiuti’s chocolates feature paintings from local artists as well as Japanese wood-block prints. Check out his blog to see a video of a chocolate painting demonstration.

Find It: Recchiuti chocolates are available at the flagship San Francisco store as well as at these retail establishments around the US.

5. Chocolatier Blue

Run by a former Charlie Trotter’s chef, Charlie Blue, this Bay-Area based company has truly melded high art with lowbrow childhood confections. The chocolate truffles from Chocolatier Blue look like miniature jewels, yet come in fun flavors like s’mores, caramel popcorn and peanut butter and jam. Don’t miss the Orange Julius truffle: orange and vanilla bean filling in a dark chocolate shell. The food court never had it this good!

Find It: You can order chocolates online from Chocolatier Blue and visit the website for information on their locations around Northern California and beyond.

These five chocolatiers are just the tip of the (chocolate) iceberg. Now it’s your turn to let me know who your favorite American chocolatiers are!

  • http://blog.justinchen.net/ Justin C

    Looks like I have some chocolate eating to do!  I do remember that the chocolates at the end of my Charlie Trotter meal were good. 

  • Anonymous

    Going on record to say that Recchiuti makes the best sea salt caramels. Ever. Love Lake Champlain, too! Great list, Kate. 

    • Independentgal

      Yes, those sea salt caramels are the best!!  And I’m thrilled to see that they are now for sale in DC.

  • http://twitter.com/marisamenuism Marisa Miyasaki

    I’m going to have to get my hands on those Chocolatier Blue truffles- they look like a dream!

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  • Ddc

    Candinas

  • Jessika

    Scharffenberger. Not the ones you get in the grocery stores, but the ones from the Scharffenberger store at the San Francisco Ferry Building. They do one-off bars, sometimes only 100 or so cases of the bar, with a particularly special bean from that year. The only place to buy them is that store (whatever the staff haven’t already bought!). They are thus literally once-in-a-lifetime bars and some of the best you’ll ever taste. 

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Kate Steffens is a pastry chef, writer, DJ, artist, designer and all-around Renaissance woman. She is a graduate of the California Culinary Academy and the University of Texas at Austin. She runs the rock-and-roll chocolate company, Straight Outta Chocolate. When she's not elbow deep in chocolate, you can find her reading, gardening, working on art projects and listening to old records.


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