If you’ve got chocolate on the brain, which I assume you frequently do, then your hunt for the perfect chocolate mate ends right this instant. I present to you The Blog’s finest and sexiest chocolate in all its complexions and personae.
Austrian-based brand Labooko is Chocolate Royalty. If you don’t make a point of trying a Labooko bar, I guarantee you, you will miss out on one of the most ground-breaking jugular experiences of your lifetime. The Labooko experience is unique, no matter the bar. Whether it’s Opus 5 Cuvée 72%, Peru or Belize 82%, Bolivia 90%, or sugar-free 70/30, ALL are velvety, sensual, and pretty much a smooth gushing melted chocolate fountain in the form of a bar. The silky texture is so extraordinary, that your eye will twitch as you savor it. Evidently the Austrians do creamy like no other. It’s torment to have to choose between the different bars every time, each being a separate guilty love affair. So what then is an irresponsibly passionate damsel like me to do? Mix them all at once I suppose.
Appealingly thick with faint salty crystals, Dr. Bronner’s MAGIC All-One Salted Dark Chocolate pleads for attention. This is the chocolate I eat in elation and despair. Dr. Bronner is a doctor to all chocolate-weaklings, treating and curing us with his masterful blend of tartness, sweetness and saltiness. His iconic multipurpose soap has had a cult following among the ethics- and health-minded for decades, and now he is doing the same for the chocolate industry. [His chocolate labels with “MAGIC” in gigantic letters give me the same entertainment value as his soap labels, replete with soulful proclamations.]
BEST PISTACHIO DARK:
Pralus Infernale Pistache Praline Bar 75% is for the me that wants creamy but also crunchy, salty but also sweet, brown but also green, lumpy but also smooth. Sink your teeth in, and you’ll never be the same again.
BEST PEANUT BUTTER CUPS:
MyChocolateShoppe Peanut Butter Cups are luxuriously oozy creamy thick sumptuous round lovers that give you a mouthful of sticky clutching caress and intimacy. “The WAY they were MEANT to Be” is how Mary Kennedy, owner of MyChocolateShoppe on Etsy, humbly describes her pb cups. Made of 70% raw biodynamic chocolate and “mindfully sourced and lovingly crafted,” her pb cups will make you feel better than they taste. I am not typically fond of the taste of raw chocolate, but this one isn’t typical. This one blows all raw (and not raw) chocolate out of the water. I’m almost hesitant to give away this secret.
BEST COFFEE FLAVORED:
A tie among FOUR distinct bars:
Francois Pralus Carre de Cafe Noir. This is your joltiest of all coffee jolts in a chocolate bar. This bar is NOT cacao- but coffee-bean-based. Very strong. Quite possibly a drug.
Francois Pralus Bar Infernale Cafe, like any confectionery, offers an experience, beginning with a potent coffee-infused dark chocolate outer layer encasing a richly silky and crunchety inner coffee-granule-praline core. Ooooof!
Akesson’s Coffee Nibs bar. A gratifying lover who gives crunch with large nibs of espresso beans. Nibs to my nibbles.
Honeymoon Dark Coffee. “Honey, meet chocolate.” This honey-sweetened bar is everything organic, raw, ethical and transparent in its sourcing. A part of their proceeds go to honeybee research, and well, I proudly use my gluttonous self for noble and worthy causes.
BEST 85% DARK:
JCOCO delivers a richly creamy malty execution of an 85% dark, with faint citrus notes, post-swallow.
BEST 84% DARK:
FIRETREE 84% is produced in Sambirano Valley, which lies on the north-west coast beside the volcanic hills of Madagascar. The sultry, warm, humid microclimate and rich, fiery soil make for the ideal Mediterranean lover, perfumed with all his tart red fruits.
BEST 74% DARK: CHAPON CHUAO
. Chapeau or “hats off” to a smooth n’ malty chocolate, chaste in profile but immorally arousing in flavor. It’s also surprisingly low in glycemic value for a 74% dark 👏.
BEST MICHELIN QUALITY:
Alain Ducasse Fourrée Praliné Pistache 74% is GODLINESS. This pistachio praline in the form of a bar is the consummate balance of sweet salty crunchy creamy nutty milky but darky thick decadent grandiose luxuriousness. Its glycemic value is shockingly low given its richness, but that only justifies the supreme quality of the ingredients and methods Monsieur Ducasse deploys. Impossible to find in the US. But if you are in Paris, don’t spend the rest of your life wondering what might have been, and rescue this long-lost love: 40 Rue de la Roquette.
BEST CHOCOLATE-COVERED DRAGÉES:
HU Chocolate-covered HUNKS almonds + sea salt. I eat these hot gorgeous hunks by the hunkful. That’s why I have to buy bags of them by the hunkful.
[A word about HU and a nib of useful information: on the packaging of their chocolate-covered almonds, they explain that the unusually shiny coating of most chocolate-covered snacks had always struck them as bizarre. They discovered that “Confectioner’s Glaze” or “Shellac” was what gives these types of snacks their appealing sheen, but what most people don’t realize is that it is a disturbing chemically-treated insect goo.
Hu avoids any such toxic ingredients and “embraces unadulterated chocolate.” Thank you, HU, for your transparency and for informing us.]
Mitica Moka Pecans. Coffee + chocolate + pecans = a perfect menage-a-trois [🚫”Shellac”].
Soma Piedmonte Hazelnuts are slow roasted and tumbled, then dusted in dark chocolate. Heaven when combined with a crumbly chocolate-chip biscuit. [🚫”Shellac” here either]
BEST FLAVORED BARS:
Hear ye hear ye, all white-chocolate lovers! Fossa, a veritable GENIUS chocolate brand crafted in Singapore, makes a Salted Egg Cereal Blond Chocolate. Yes. This bar is the most successfully experimental chocolate in historical existence. Beyond sophisticated in concept and taste, it is Singaporeans’ favorite Tze-Char dish in a chocolate bar. Taking the words straight from the packaging, this bar is a “housemade salted egg cereal spiked with a little spicy chili padi and aromatic curry leaves, sprinkled over a special white chocolate slowly caramelized to attain a blond color and biscuit aroma.” I swoon! This is ART IN YOUR MOUTH.
Hu Hazelnut Coffee Dark. This bar has almost everything I love in one. Nuts, coffee, and chocolate. All that’s missing is cheese.
Askinosie Dark Chocolate + Avocado and Rosemary. Rouses the palette. And it’s healthy too (maybe skip lunch and go straight to dessert?). A unique threesome of real Hass avocado pulp powder, organic rosemary, and a touch of organic black pepper.
Sabadi Agrigento Dark Chocolate with EVOO and dried Bay Leaves has a unique and porous texture of bursting crystal crunch. Aya…
Baiani Tapioca and Coconut 65%. Wowingly low in glycemic value for a 65% bar. And perfect to close the account on a meal in a sweet way.
BEST LOWEST-GLYCEMIC DARK (KETO, without the ghastly–and gasly–polyalcohols):
Baiani 88% Dark Chocolate, at 13g Carbs per 100g weight. A bronze winner at the Academy of Chocolate Awards 2020, this bar is this diabetic’s cherished friend. It is persistent and creamy with subtle scents of woodsmoke and fig. Its packaging divulges the secrets of its terroir, soil, fermentation and drying methods. I love secrets, don’t you?
Hogart’s Gianduia Dark Hazelnut bar is New Zeland’s version of Italy’s famed Gianduia nuggets. Made with toasted New Zealand hazelnuts and 45% cacao, this creamy smoothish luxuriously golden wrapped chocolate bar has won multiple awards, especially that of my strictest chocolate-judging heart.
Of the myriad of chocolate bars worthy of a lustful encounter, these are the ones currently in my intimate chocolate drawer and my palette’s capricious selection of the moment. My husband, Javi, says I treat chocolate as something alive and human🤓. I believe I’ve proven just that.
Best multi-brand chocolate online boutique: www.barandcocoa.com
Best chocolate atelier online: www.keeschocolates.com
(based in NY, Kee’s hazelnut praline is a winner)