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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.