Chocolate should be your go-to gift this holiday season as chocolatiers report a pandemic-driven run on chocolate, especially ones that evoke nostalgia. It’s no surprise that chocolates that inspire warm, positive memories are so popular during such a trying time. Says Wendy Lieu, co-owner of Socola Chocolates, “Taste and smell have a visceral power to transport people to memories when they felt safe, seen, and loved.” She’s right on—transport your loved ones with these sumptuous, silken dark chocolate offerings and one note of advice—if you want them to arrive on time, plan ahead as shipping during COVID times is inherently unpredictable.
Bon Bon Bon, (MI) Despite the pandemic’s effect on her business, chocolatier and owner Alexandra Clark and her team still strive to make chocolate for the good people of the world who, says Clark, “especially need and deserve a good piece of chocolate right now.” She’s doing that with absolute flair. Her retro packaging and clever, utterly delicious bonbons are as entertaining to open as they are to eat. Wrapped in wee individually labeled boxes, each one is a micro-dessert with multiple layers of flavor. Consider Crème Brulee (Madagascar vanilla, bean custard, ganache, brulee sugar) or Scorpio (cherry confiture, devil’s food cake, buttercream ganache) or Bubs (dark chocolate, brut rose, caramel, fizzy sugar—it really does pop in your mouth). Build your own box—because you will want these for yourself as well.
Li-Lac Chocolates (NY): This is Manhattan’s oldest chocolate house and there is a reason these silky truffles have stood the test of time in a city of choosy and cultivated palates—they are properly decadent and deeply chocolate. Master Chocolatier Anwar Khoder makes dark chocolate magic with selections that prize the deep soothing flavors of dark chocolate over all else. The Gourmet Ganache Truffle selection is your best bet with Amaretto, Caramel, French Cream, Brandy, Dulce de Leche, Raspberry, Champagne, and Mocha offerings.
Michael’s Chocolates (CA): Owner and chocolatier, Michael Benner used to be a sommelier so his intuition about flavor pairings shines through in his creations—consider his Whiskey Collection truffles featuring dark chocolate and Old Potreo Rye Whiskey or the Bourbon Caramel Pecan combination. His newest (and seriously addictive) offering, the Hazelnut Caramel Latte Dragee, is a toasted, caramelized hazelnut enrobed in a layer of caramelized white chocolate and dark chocolate and dusted with espresso and cocoa powder. In 2017 Benner entered his Lemon Burst bonbon in the Good Food Awards and won—his first-ever entry.
Milène Jardine , NY: The beautiful wedge shaped truffles in her Live by Love Truffle Collection are big enough to share but you likely won’t want to. They offer compelling flavor combinations such as Sanctuary—a blend of ginger, turmeric, black pepper and silky dark chocolate. The fan favorite in our tasting was Serenity, made with dark chocolate, whiskey and sea salt—homage to her family roots in Cork, Ireland.