I lооkеd fоr bаlаnсеd, prоminеnt сосоа nоtеs with nо оff flаvоrs.Frеshnеss: Tо аvоid sасrifiсing tаstе, prеsеntаtiоn, аnd оvеrаll quаlity, it is bеst tо соnsumе сhосоlаtеs within а fеw dаys оf purсhаsе. Diffеrеnt аrt аnd dесоr аppеаl tо diffеrеnt prеfеrеnсеs аnd purpоsеs, but nо оnе wаnts brоkеn оr smаshеd соnfесtiоns. Just аs my hоt сосоа hаbits hаvе еvоlvеd оvеr thе yеаrs, sо hаs sipping сhосоlаtе оvеr millеnniа. Оriginаting in Mаyаn сulturе, bittеr drinking сhосоlаtе mаdе its wаy tо Еurоpе аnd undеrwеnt соuntlеss аdаptаtiоns bеfоrе bесоming thе swееt, milky bеvеrаgе wе sip tоdаy. Frаn’s Сhосоlаtеs саrаmеls оffеr thе «pull,» dеlibеrаtе сhеw, аnd strаtеgiс sаlting thаt а grеаt саrаmеl shоuld pоssеss. Likе thе pеrfесt bаgеl оr pizzа сrust, а саrаmеl nееds tо hаvе just thе right аmоunt оf сhеw — nоt tоо hаrd, nоt tоо sоft. Fоr а truly spесiаl оссаsiоn оr just sоmеоnе with а swееt tооth аnd trоublе slееping, thе Drеаm Gift Sеt соmеs with 16 trufflеs flаvоrеd with сhаmоmilе, tulsi, аnd lаvеndеr, plus mоrе сhосоlаtеs, bаth sаlts, а slееp mаsk, аnd lооsе lеаf tеа. Thеsе саn аll bе usеd еffесtivеly in diffеrеnt аppliсаtiоns. Thе swееt аnd sаvоry flаvоrs dеvеlоpеd frоm rоаsting сасао bеаns mаkе сhосоlаtе thе idеаl «plus оnе» tо аny tоаstеd nut. Соntаining just dаrk сhосоlаtе аnd vаnillа bеаn, this supеr intеnsе, silky drink hаs а vеlvеty tехturе. Оur fаvоritе prоduсеr оf trufflеs аnd gаnасhеs, Bоn Bon Bon, is unconventional in its truffles’ shape, use of flavors and textures, and packaging. While more intense, bittersweet options are available, most of the chocolate used to create these classic squares are approachable and palatable to kids.The options are endless, so you are sure to find something for even the pickiest of eaters. Seattle Chocolate has an entire line of Vegan Truffle Bars and they are divinely rich despite their lack of dairy. White, milk, and dark chocolate morsels filled with gooey caramel and rich chocolate ganache offer a stepping-stone into more sophisticated flavors, while squares bejeweled with crispy rice, tart berries, or crunchy nuts are ideal for the more texturally adventurous of the group. I also loved the Strawberry Shortcake bar, which whimsically mixes jammy, tart bite-sized strawberries and crumbles of buttery shortcake into a strawberry flavored, rosy-hued white chocolate. Each truffle is a two-bite masterpiece, delivered in a thin rectangular chocolate shell.Rather than fully enrobing its ganaches, Bon Bon Bon chooses to leave its bonbons topless — a very risqué move. No marshmallows needed.Worth a try:Best truffles and ganaches: Bon Bon BonBon Bon Bon; Alyssa Powell/InsiderGanache. Cacao & Cardamom offers bold and exotic flavors that inspire the most seasoned of foodies to seek new adventures around the world.Worth a try:Best subscription: Chocolate of the Month Clubmonthlyclubs.com; InsiderMonthly subscriptions are available for just about anything: flower bouquets, recipe kits, smoked meats, date-night in a box, and yes, you guessed it, chocolate. Trust me, I’m a chocolatier.Learn more about how Insider Reviews tests and researches products.Top picks for chocolatesBest for gifting: Vosges Haut-ChocolatFrom the stunning packaging to glamorous garnishes to the lingering flavor of luscious chocolate, Vosges Haut-Chocolat makes the perfect gift for anyone and any occasion.Best hot chocolate: Christopher Elbow ChocolatesChristopher Elbow’s Drinking Chocolate is grown-up, yet still approachable; the cool older sister to your childhood hot cocoa.Best truffles and ganaches: Bon Bon BonBon Bon Bon’s truffles are a treasure trove of fun, inventive flavors; each two-bite bonbon is meticulously and playfully decorated, and wrapped in its own individual box.Best candy bars: CompartésCompartés seamlessly draws upon familiar flavors and tailors them to contemporary, stylish candy bars.Best budget: ChocoloveChocolove has it all: decadent, rich chocolate, high quality ingredients, ethically sourced cacao, and fair prices.Best bean-to-bar: Dandelion Chocolate FactoryDandelion Chocolate Factory is the premium vintner of the chocolate world, offering the dynamic chocolate bars with helpful notes to guide you through your tasting experience.Best for kids: GhirardelliGhirardelli’s individually wrapped chocolate squares are great for kids, and help introduce your young ones to more sophisticated flavors and textures in an approachable way.Best for caramel lovers: Fran’s ChocolatesThe caramels from Fran’s Chocolates possess everything a caramel lover seeks in the perfect bite: pull, chew, and just a touch of salt.Best for nut lovers: See’s CandiesFrom classics to creative morsels, See’s Candies knows how to honor the perfect pairing of nuts and chocolate.Best vegan: Seattle ChocolateSeattle Chocolate has an entire line of Vegan Truffle Bars that are divinely rich despite their lack of dairy.Most beautiful: Petrova ChocolatesEach brilliant chocolate from Petrova is meticulously painted with vivid colored cocoa butter to represent the filling within.Best for adventurous flavors: Cacao & CardamomCacao & Cardamom’s chocolates are filled with intriguing flavors from unusual ingredients like chile peppers, spices, leaves, flowers, and berries.Best subscription: Chocolate of the Month ClubThe Gourmet Chocolate of the Month Club from monthlyclubs.com offers delicious, diverse chocolates with a conscience.Best for gifting: Vosges Haut-ChocolatVosges Haut-Chocolat; Alyssa Powell/InsiderYou can find gifts for anyone, all occasions, and at a wide price range at Vosges Haut-Chocolat. Strawberry Peanut Butter was another favorite: A creamy ivory shell swirled with bold purple and metallic violet encasing a layer of juicy strawberry pate de fruit, peanut butter ganache, and crunchy peanut butter praline. I’m a scientist at heart and a true chocolate-fanatic, so my testing approach for researching the best chocolate was both methodical and thorough. Our favorite brand for gifting is Vosges Haut-Chocolat thanks to the artful packaging and unique flavor combinations. As for the chocolates themselves, Dandelion Chocolate’s bars are superb. And if you want to stock up on quality candy bars, we recommend Chocolove for classics and subtle innovations.I’m lucky enough to say that my career revolves around chocolate. With something so decadent, I was satisfied after a small mugful. She not only turns to chile peppers for intrigue, but spices, leaves, flowers, and berries as well. See’s also offers less conventional options for the more daring nut enthusiasts that you can put together in your own custom arrangement. To make matters sweeter, this women-owned company collaborates with independent artists to design its show-stopping packaging, is committed to sustainability and ethical cocoa sourcing and carbon-neutral production, and gives 10% of its net profits to Girls Inc., which provides mentorship, safe spaces, and programs proven to help girls develop their inherent strengths.Worth a try:Most beautiful: Petrova ChocolatesPetrova/InsiderHand-painted bonbons from Petrova Chocolates are truly eye-candy. Setting out to name the best chocolate with caramel was no easy task, but I was up to the challenge. Inside is chili-infused wildflower honey above a tangy lemon ganache. Learn moreWe had a chocolatier sample more than 75 chocolates from 36 brands to find the best you can buy.Bon Bon Bon; Christopher Elbow; Dandelion Chocolate Factory; EHChocolatier; Fran’s Chocolates; See’s Candies; Gilbert Espinoza/InsiderThere’s no doubt that the best chocolate brings joy, conveys love, heals heartache, and forges connections. Each Vosges Haut-Chocolat morsel is truly exciting to bite into, like unwrapping yet another surprise: the gift that keeps giving.Worth a try:Best hot chocolate: Christopher Elbow ChocolatesChristopher Elbow; InsiderI grew up relishing powdery, saccharine cocoa mix with tiny dehydrated marshmallows. Secondly, it should have a shiny exterior (unless coated in cocoa powder, etc), free of blemishes or white «bloom» (a sign that the chocolate was not treated properly during production or storage). These are the best chocolates money can buy, delivered right to your door (or the lucky recipient’s). Or opt for a too-easy-to-enjoy Comfort Food Tower. All of the chocolates ship with a «melt free» guarantee, and you can choose to buy individual bars or select a gift set, making it easy to customize to fit your budget.Worth a try:Best budget: ChocoloveChocoloveIf you’re not looking to break the bank on chocolate, but your inner-gourmet can’t stomach subpar, we recommend checking out Chocolove. An overly thick coating of chocolate cracks and smashes the delicate ganache when bitten into. My education in the hard sciences, the savory culinary arts, and finally fine chocolatier-work has all been in preparation for the daunting task of hand-selecting the very best chocolates. The Cardamom Rose bonbon leads with the warm, herbal spicy notes of green cardamom, and finishes with the soft floral touch of rose water. Adorable miniature versions of the chocolate are ideal for the smallest in your posse, or those indecisive eaters that like to try an assortment of treats in one sitting. With your choice of milk or dark chocolate coating, grey salt, smoked salt, or a classic exterior sans salt, the truest of caramel lovers will undoubtedly find what they need.Worth a try:Best for nut lovers: See’s CandiesSee’s Candies; Alyssa Powell/InsiderFrom clusters to pralines, turtles to barks, nuts are no strangers to chocolate. When storing your chocolates make sure to place them in an airtight container.Texture: I considered the texture of all the chocolates. Many options out there lack substantial mouthfeel or rely on heavy, grainy nut butters that leave a greasy film behind in your mouth. Zingerman’s prides itself on a thorough product selection that sources chocolates from international, small-batch chocolatiers. It crafts single-origin chocolate bars, which are made from cacao beans of one variety from one location. Bon Bon Bon, a hip and cheeky producer out of Detroit, hits the mark on all of these and then some. Dandelion Chocolate’s bars highlight the different beans’ distinctive characteristics.Not only do Dandelion Chocolate’s bars showcase the nuances of single-origin beans, but they richly represent the art of roasting by offering bars made from cacao of the same harvest but with different roasting profiles. That’s just one of the nearly 70 flavors to choose from, and all come in beautiful packaging that makes for great gifting. Its balanced bittersweet chocolate flavor lingers just long enough to leave you craving another sip. Ghirardelli’s individually wrapped chocolate squares are great for kids and connoisseurs alike. It highlights the burnt sugar notes and cuts through the rich, buttery flavor of the confection. In my book, a good caramel should leave a trail of gooey — not runny — confection behind when you pull the candy away from your mouth. I cut no corners and left no truffle unturned. I sampled more than 75 chocolate products from the 36 top contenders, testing for appearance, flavor, and texture of the chocolate. A traditional truffle is round with a simple chocolate shell or coating of cocoa powder, nuts, or coconut. Heat seekers and adventure lovers will love Cacao & Cardamom. I trained at the Culinary Institute of America, pursued further training at the Chocolate Academy, Chicago, and worked for years at EHChocolatier, a small-batch artisanal chocolate producer in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (You may find more limited availability as the weather gets warmer.) We tested the Cocoa Noir Dark Drinking Chocolate, the chocolatier’s luscious interpretation of a rich European-style drinking chocolate. It’s noteworthy and respectable that these chocolates are sourced from eco-friendly, fair-trade producers you can feel good about supporting. You’ve seen the word countless times on menus describing chocolate desserts. Secondly, salt is great in moderation. For example, you can purchase a pack of bars made from the same beans, but processed by Dandelion’s Tokyo and San Francisco chocolatiers.Each and every chocolate bar from Dandelion Chocolate feels deluxe, wrapped in gold-accented paper with tasting notes. The excitement doesn’t end once the gift is unwrapped either. Take, for example, The Donuts & Coffee bar, which is adorned with bits of real glazed buttermilk donuts, crispy coffee donut crumble, and finely ground coffee. But the world of ganache-filled bonbons need not end there. Now, I crave unctuous, bittersweet sipping chocolate (sometimes with a splash of amaretto). There’s even a plethora of vegan options. For the sweet tooth, go for the non-traditional white chocolate-covered Cashew Brittle. Not only is this visually unconventional, but each bonbon is also adorned with playful garnishes to match its youthful yet adult flavors. After that, I also considered how the packaging and presentation contributed to the overall impact of the chocolates, considering many give chocolates as gifts for special occasions.Read the original article on Insider If that is not possible, you can store your chocolates in the refrigerator for up to a month. It doesn’t get better than these. This chocolatier’s use of shapes, layered components, textures, and variety within one box will be universally pleasing.There’s the «safe bet» gift of hand-formed Milk Chocolate Truffles in an ornate purple box. A real nut lover, however, lusts for a chocolate that celebrates the nut, not just accompanies it. Based in Houston, Texas, founder Annie Rupani, uses chocolate as a medium to represent her South-Asian heritage and extensive travels to countries Italy, Greece, Lebanon, Egypt, China, Jordan, Pakistan, and Malaysia. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. With Belgian-trained Master Chocolatier Patrick Peeters at the helm, Chocolove continues to provide exquisite chocolate bars of the highest caliber — at the lowest prices.Worth a try:Best bean-to-bar: Dandelion Chocolate FactoryDandelion Chocolate Factory; Insider»Bean-to-bar» chocolates are progressively popular among chocophiles; they’re made by small-batch craft producers that manage everything from sourcing the cacao beans to the final touches of processing and flavoring.San Francisco-based Dandelion Chocolate Factory approaches its processing like a wine maker approaches the production of fine wine. Here is the criteria I considered:Flavor: The growing conditions of the cacao used to make any given chocolate impact its flavor, which can range from sweet and fruity, to nutty and toasty, to bitter or acidic. The Passion Fruit in Ruby Chocolate bar showcases the bright berry notes and pink hue of Ruby chocolate’s naturally red cacao bean, complemented by a tart passion fruit puree filling. In all, I sampled more than 75 products from 36 brands for this guide. When searching for the best chocolate subscription, we considered each brand’s selection, how the items are made, the brand’s chocolate sustainability and trade models, and opportunities to learn more about chocolate in the process of enjoying our deliveries.The Gourmet Chocolate of the Month Club provided through monthlyclubs.com works with professionals at the esteemed Zingerman’s Delicatessen in Ann Arbor, Michigan to offer a curated assortment of chocolates, including both bonbons and bars. Some of our favorites were the Cookies & Cream bar that draws on a crowd favorite flavor but uses an elegant blend of dark and white chocolate to control sweetness. Worth a try:Best for adventurous flavors: Cacao & CardamomCacao & Cardamom/InsiderPairing chile peppers with chocolate is not novel, but finding a chocolate that brings heat as well as depth of flavor and quality chocolate is a rare find. With a vast assortment of nut-celebrating confections, See’s Candies are the one-stop-shop for any nut lover with a chocolate craving.Worth a try:Best vegan: Seattle ChocolateSeattle ChocolateVegan chocolate bars are a dime-a-dozen nowadays, seeing as how dark chocolate is innately dairy-free and therefore vegan. When seeking chocolate to savor on its own, I look for a rich and complex taste with a pleasant bitterness and melt-in-your mouth smoothness, lacking any waxy residue. The stunning colors and shapes of Cacao & Cardamom bonbons rival those in our «most beautiful» category, with a sense of adventure.We tried a range of flavors to find the best chocolate from Cacao & Cardamom. The Pike Place Espresso Chocolate Truffle Bar, speckled with finely ground decaf espresso beans, is bold and buzzworthy, while the Mexican Hot Chocolate Truffle Bar features fresh ground cinnamon, a pinch of fiery cayenne pepper, balanced with a touch of sweet Madagascar vanilla. Past boxes have even included some of our top picks mentioned above. Solid milk chocolate squares are the perfect sweet treat for the fussier of the bunch. Correctly tempered and stored chocolate shouldn’t melt in your fingers; it should be firm and «snap» when broken or bitten into and melt smoothly on the tongue.Packaging and presentation: First and foremost, I looked for packaging that protects the chocolates it contains. The elegant Cherries & Almonds in Dark Chocolate bar felt like a decadent dessert worthy of its own plate and white tablecloth. I also saw this as an opportunity to introduce future chocoholics to slightly more sophisticated flavors and textures, while staying in a «safe space» for young, naive palates. The uniformity of each morsel and consistency in salting means that each bite will be just as perfect as the last. If you eat with your eyes first, Petrova Chocolates offers the ultimate bedazzling feast.Some of my favorite bonbons from the collection include Hot Honey Lemon, denoted with bright yellow with orange brushstrokes. The cocoa’s innate acidity and bitterness should be prominent but palatable. Yet somehow, Chocolove has it all. However, even at 70% cacao and beyond, Dandelion Chocolate’s bars are balanced and approachable. For instance, I’ll admit that a truffle of Reishi mushrooms and Italian hazelnuts was a bit intimidating to bite into, but it translated into a luscious, umami milk chocolate ganache with an underlying nuttiness that lingered, leaving me wanting more. A coating of good chocolate draws out the natural sweetness of almonds, pistachios, and pecans; coaxes the fatty richness of cashews, macadamia nuts, and hazelnuts; and embraces the slight bitterness of walnuts and pine nuts.See’s Candies, founded in 1921, has a vintage, old-timey feel with black and white checkered packaging and classic confections included in its arrangements, such as Dark Scotchmallows, and it has an entire collection of «Nuts & Chews» for those devoted to nut-bejeweled chocolates. Each box comes with an undeniable wow-factor before the recipient has even lifted the lid. That being said, you still need your molars intact in order to enjoy a second taste. Bon Bon Bon chooses fresh, local ingredients and packages each ingenious morsel individually in a tiny box, mirroring the care and thought put into each bite you’ll enjoy.Worth a try:Best candy bars: CompartésCompartésCompartés seamlessly draws upon familiar flavors and tailors them to fun, stylish candy bars. The best chocolate is rich in flavor and almost too beautiful to eat.To find the best chocolates, I researched countless high-quality brands with stellar reputations in the chocolate industry. Subscriptions are a fun, interactive way to learn more about a specific product through exposure and experience. Try the Milk Mayfair, a soft pink-hued center of walnuts, cherries, and vanilla, coated with creamy milk chocolate. Just as soil and climate impact grapes for winemaking, regional terroirs influence the flavors of cacao beans. A cross-section of any of these bonbons reveals a stunning composition inspired by founder Betty Petrova’s childhood memories and fine-dining experiences. Worth a try:Best for kids: GhirardelliGhirardelliWhen choosing a chocolate best suited for kids, I sought out a quality product with approachable flavors that didn’t break the bank. With single-origin chocolate bars in vogue, many producers are now offering single-origin sipping chocolates as well.Christopher Elbow, best known for its brightly colored chocolate bonbons, typically offers four hot chocolate options of various flavors and cacao origins, in sleek reclosable tins. High-end hot chocolates celebrate the bitter notes of cacao, providing a grown-up sip with a touch of childhood nostalgia.Even before adding your choice of schnapps or liqueurs, a haute hot chocolate should be intense and richly flavored. This Seattle-based candy producer features Fair Trade certified chocolate to complement, not overshadow, the caramel’s delicate yet luxurious buttery flavor. Toffee-ettes, sold in black and white coffee canisters, are small nuggets of Danish butter toffee and roasted almonds coated in milk chocolate and rolled in more crunchy almonds. It uses the highest quality non-GMO ingredients, including cacoa beans traceable down to the farmer, in order to ensure premium chocolate bars at a fair price. Ganache is the decadent combination of cream and chocolate, used to frost cakes, glaze donuts, and fill truffles. Finally, the Five Spice Praline delivers a robust blend of fennel, Szechuan peppercorns, star anise, clove, and cinnamon atop a base of crisp, toasty hazelnut chocolate praline. Lastly, inside the truffle should be a silky smooth ganache. While many Vosges chocolates feature uncommon ingredients in unexpected combinations, they are in reality very approachable to eat. Some chocolatiers add sugar or flavorings such as vanilla beans, peppermint, or espresso powder to their mixes. Consider the CA Crunch, a flakey brittle center with peanuts and peanut butter enrobed in white chocolate and covered with chopped English walnuts. This Boulder-based company prides itself on providing «affordable luxury.»All too often, one has to sacrifice quality of flavor and texture, sustainability, and even ethical sourcing, all in the name of a good deal. I started by reading about top brands in the chocolate industry, then taste-tested countless confections, evaluating their flavors, textures, and presentation. However, chocolate that has gone bad or rancid will have a soapy or cheesy flavor. Worth a try:Best for caramel lovers: Fran’s ChocolatesFran’s Chocolates; Alyssa Powell/InsiderCaramels come in all shapes and sizes, firmnesses, colors, degrees of bitterness and butteriness, and with all types of garnishes. However, salt applied with a heavy hand makes for an unpleasant surprise; it stomps out nuanced flavors and tramples on the chocolate coating.Fran Bigelow, founder of Fran’s Chocolates, was inspired by a trip to Paris and has since been dedicated to sharing the joie de vivre philosophy through exceptional confections. Looking for something a little more playful and funky? Perhaps the most playful was Popping Almond; a bonbon composed of crunchy almond praline, cookie crumble, and effervescent Pop Rocks, all encased in a midnight-black shell streaked with a meteor shower of shimmering turquoise and pearl. Each brilliant chocolate is meticulously lacquered with vivid colored cocoa butter to represent the filling within. When selecting a good truffle, there are a few key qualities to look for: first, it should have a uniform, thin shell enrobing the ganache filling. But the beauty of these chocolates is not just surface-deep; each has two to three layers of jewel-toned, jammy, creamy, bold, and balanced fillings that work harmoniously with the delicate chocolate shell. But achieving a rich, creamy chocolate minus the dairy is a whole other feat. So many chocolate producers that make high-cacao dark chocolate that is too harsh. For example, the Bour-Bon-Bon-Bon has a layer of rich bourbon ganache topped with whiskey caramel in a dark chocolate shell, appropriately garnished with a glacée orange and dark chocolate «ice cube.» The Lemon Bar None is a white chocolate cup filled with a zingy lemon custard ganache on top of a layer of shortbread crust, dressed with royal icing and a dusting of powdered sugar. And when it comes time to find the perfect gift, chocolate is the answer then, too. Best of all, each delivery comes with an educational newsletter containing tasting notes, background reading material, and product information, so you’ll get more out of your subscription than just really really delicious chocolate.Buy from monthlyclubs.comHow we test chocolateDandelion Chocolate Factory; iStock; Gilbert Espinoza/InsiderWhile I’m currently employed as a chocolatier, I’ve lived previous lives in both scientific research and recipe development. All Vosges chocolates are stunning. While you can find chocolate caramels in all sorts of variety boxes, Fran’s Chocolates offers box options totally committed to caramels, revealing its devotion to the craft of caramel chocolates. Seattle Chocolate often combines contrasting textures within one bar and adds a sophisticated touch to nostalgic flavors, as done in the salty-sweet, crispy-silky Chocolate Chip Cookie Dark Chocolate Truffle Bar. The Coco Curry is a journey of flavors with velvety yet light caramel infused with coconut and herbaceous curry leaves.