Are you looking for the perfect unique, special, thoughtful chocolates for Valentine's Day?
Or do you just need a gorgeous box of hand crafted artisanal chocolates because it's Wednesday, dangit, and you want to?
There's always a good reason to treat yourself or someone else to a box of chocolates (something something insert Forrest Gump quote here) so I thought I'd round up some small batch, artisanal chocolate shops, chocolatiers, and chocolate makers that truly take chocolate making to the next level.
Note: I'm publishing this list ahead of Valentine's Day 2022, and some of the boxes are limited edition — depending on when you're seeing this, some boxes may be out of stock or unavailable. But do check out the rest of each store's offerings, there is plenty to choose from.
A few chocolate terms to help you better understand what exactly these companies do:
- Bean to Bar Chocolate - According to Megan Giller, author of Bean-to-Bar Chocolate: America’s Craft Chocolate Revolution, bean-to-bar is "a messy term without an agreed-upon definition," but that it essentially refers to "a chocolate made from scratch by one company, starting with whole beans. This usually includes buying, roasting, grinding, and refining the beans in a single facility. Some companies may not roast the beans, and others may not mold the chocolate into bars themselves, but in both cases it is still considered bean to bar."
- Single Origin Chocolate - Single origin chocolate is chocolate made from cacao beans that come from the same geographic region or country of origin. With just one type of cocoa bean in the chocolate bar, "single-origin chocolates should showcase a consistent quality and flavor profile that is indicative of the unique region from which the cacao beans were sourced," writes Chris Sands at Tasting Table.
- Artisanal chocolate - The Fine Chocolate Industry Association defines artisanal chocolate as "chocolate produced by small chocolate makers—artisans—who understand their craft intimately. Artisan chocolate must be made under the care and supervision of a knowledgeable chocolate maker who could be defined as an artisan."
Of course this is not an exhaustive or complete list of artisanal chocolate makers or chocolates for Valentine's Day — there are plenty that didn't make the list. Have a favorite chocolate maker I should know about? Leave a comment at the end of this post!
1. Taza Chocolate [Somerville, MA]
Based Somerville, MA, just outside of Boston, Taza Chocolate specializes in unrefined, minimally processed stone ground ethically sourced, fair trade chocolate. When it comes to boxes of chocolate for gift giving, Taza has a moderate selection of chocolate bars and discs packaged in eco-friendly gift boxes and tasting samplers to choose from.
If you're looking specifically for Valentine's Day chocolates, check out Taza's Hearts on Fire box featuring 8 discs of stone ground chocolate.
2. Seattle Chocolate Company [Seattle, WA]
Seattle Chocolate Company's 2022 Valentine's theme is "Chocolate is Love" and what I love most about SCC isn't just the chocolate — it's that 10% of their net profits go to Girls, Inc. an organization that works to empower and inspire the next generation of female leaders.
When it comes to sweet chocolate gifts and gift boxes, Seattle Chocolate Company has a lot to choose from. Take a peek at their site and you'll see dozens of combinations of chocolate bars, chocolate truffles, mini chocolate bars, and more. Every box of chocolates comes in gorgeously illustrated, colorful packaging and makes a great gift!
3. Knipschildt Chocolatier [Norwalk, CT]
Knipschildt Chocolate might be known as the home of the "World's Most Giant Truffle" (feeds 20!) but Denmark-born chocolatier Fritz Knipschildt creates so much more than oversized novelty chocolates in his Norwalk, CT based chocolate shop.
Using unique flavor combinations (passionfruit and ancho chile! mulled wine! grand marnier and marzipan!), Knipschildt creates gorgeous chocolates that are truly one of a kind. Whether you need a special heart shaped box of chocolates for Valentine's Day or just want to send a sweet treat, Knipschidt's has plenty of curated chocolate boxes to choose from.
4. Cacao and Cardamom [Houston, TX]
The chocolates that come out of Annie Rupini's Houston-based Cacao and Cardamom chocolate shop are tiny, edible, sparkling piece of artwork. One of the most popular gift boxes is literally called "The Jewelry Box" and you can totally see why.
Cacao and Cardamom's award winning chocolates feature "adventurous flavor pairings" like garam marsala pistachio, cardamom rose, and mango caramel in a rainbow of colors and designs. Opening each box is like opening a treasure chest — jewels and gems sparkling up at you. Who wouldn't be thrilled to receive a box of these?
5. Bon Bon Bon [Detroit, MI]
When I polled The Practical Kitchen readers on social media for your favorite places to order artisanal chocolate gift boxes, Detroit-based Bon Bon Bon chocolate company was by far the most popular and beloved recommendation. And it's easy to see why! Chocolates from Bon Bon Bon are made with "classic French technique in conjunction with a little Detroit ingenuity."
These chocolate bonbons are unfussy yet high quality chocolates with ingenious, creative flavor combos, packaged in unpretentious gift boxes that are all about the chocolate, baby! (They even have gift boxes curated by allergy needs — gluten free, nut free, etc.)
6. Sugar Plum Chocolates [Kingston, PA]
Sugar Plum Chocolates, a fourth generation, family owned chocolate shop based out of northeastern Pennsylvania, has been selling their premium chocolate dipped treats and confections for over 25 years now. Sugar Plum's fun chocolate gift boxes come packed with a variety of chocolate covered pretzels, popcorn, cookies, biscotti, marshmallows, and more!
Sugar Plum Chocolates doesn't have a store front, so the only way to get their gourmet chocolate dipped creations is by placing an order for delivery. Sugar Plum knows what people like — sweet and salty things dipped in chocolate — and knows how to deliver it well!
Sugar Plum does offer some specific chocolates for Valentine's Day (see Pretzel Passion Assortment, above) as well as chocolate gift baskets for every day occasions too. You will definitely brighten someone's day with these!
7. Vosges Haut-Chocolat [Chicago, IL]
Vosges Haut-Chocolat's chocolates are truly out of this world — from the very center of each chocolate treat to the artful, thoughtful packaging. Chocolate gift boxes from Vosges are so much more than just boxes of chocolates. They are chocolate storytelling experiences.
Vosges' 2022 Valentine's theme is "A Love Eternal," inspired by ancient Egypt, and features a variety of aphrodisiacal chocolates packaged in luxurious gold gilded boxes. That said, if you're looking for a non-traditional chocolate Valentine's gift — or a non-Valentine's chocolate gift — make sure you take a peek at the rest of Vosges' gift offerings.
8. Bar and Cocoa [Denver, CO / Global]
At Bar and Cocoa you can find high quality, sustainably produced chocolate from over 70+ bean to bar chocolate artisans and makers around the world.
Thanks to Bar and Cocoa's robust filtering system, you can search for chocolate gifts for pretty much every taste, preference, or values; filter by type of chocolate, chocolate origin, cacao percentage, allergy concerns, kosher status, women-owned companies, and more.
Bar and Cocoa also offers its own chocolate club subscription (four full-sized chocolate bars, monthly) which makes a great gift of its own. Just imagine how delighted your significant other will be when you tell them you didn't just buy them chocolates for Valentine's Day — you bought them a monthly delivery of chocolate!
9. Dandelion Chocolate [San Francisco, CA]
Dandelion Chocolate is a bean-to-bar artisanal chocolate company based in San Francisco. Their stripped back chocolate bars are elegant in their simplicity. Dandelion is all about highlighting and emphasizing the natural fruity, nutty, fudgy flavors in different types of chocolate, which makes their gift boxes a chocolate taster's dream.
Dandelion's single-origin, bean-to-bar chocolate is vegan, gluten-free, nut-free (unless otherwise specified), soy-free, and kosher, which makes them a great source for chocolate gifts if you know anyone with food allergies.
Ready to take your chocolate experience to the next level? Sign up for one of Dandelion Chocolate's truffle making classes for Valentine's Day!
10. Mini Melanie [Brooklyn, NY]
Unlike other chocolate truffle and bonbon boxes which feature your standard ganache, cream, or caramel filled chocolates, every single gemstone shaped chocolate truffle Mini Melanie makes is filled with cake! These colorful, flavorful cake truffles are the perfect way to tell that special someone just how much you love them.
Mini Melanie was founded by sisters Melanie and Diana Ross (not that Diana Ross) in 2015 and currently operates out of Brooklyn, NY. Melanie is a pastry chef and Chopped champion, and Mini Melanie's decadent treats were even featured in the 2016 New York Michelin Guide!