In honor of the greatest day of the year, we taste tested confections from independent chocolate brands around the country. We started off with ganaches from Bond Street Chocolate, just a fifteen minute walk from our office in New York, and ended with sea salt caramels from Fran's Chocolate all the way in Washington! Testing all these delicious chocolates, like a bacon bar and fleur de sel turtles, was a tough job, but our entire staff rallied together--and even stayed late on a Friday--to get the job done.
Read our reviews of the best independent chocolate in the gallery below, just try not to drool on your keyboard.
(Photo by Isa Wipfli, makeup by Tina Turnbow, styling by Skye Stewart-Short, hair by Raphael Portet, model - Zazoe @ One)
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BRAND: Dandelion TYPE OF CHOCOLATE: 70% Dark Chocolate from Papua New Guinea REACTION: It starts off smooth but then has this tangy flavor--which is a good thing. It's basically chocolate for adults.. -- Rebecca Willa Davis, Online Executive Editor REACTION: I like that it's not too sweet. -- Evan Campisi, Art Director
BRAND: Bond St. Chocolate TYPE OF CHOCOLATE: Bourbon Ganache REACTION: I can't really believe how much it tastes like bourbon. It's delicious. I could eat one million of these. -- Steff Yotka, Associate Web Editor TYPE OF CHOCOLATE: Spicy Caramel REACTION: For real spicy. -- Josh Madden, Men's Content and Marketing Director
BRAND: My Sweet TYPE OF CHOCOLATE: Brigadero REACTION: It tastes like a chocolate volcano cake, but bite sized. -- Christian Lavery, Men's Associate Web Editor REACTION: Gooey on the outside, crunchy on the inside--and the center tastes like this cool twist on chocolate. -- Rebecca Willa Davis
BRAND: Christopher Elbow TYPE OF CHOCOLATE: Dark Fleur de Sel Turtles REACTION: This is like one ooey, gooey, chewy piece of heaven. That's all I can really say, because my mouth is full. -- Liza Darwin REACTION: Outstanding. -- Chris Segedy, Art Director REACTION: I never thought salt on chocolate would be good, but this is the move. -- Josh Madden
BRAND: Chuao Chocolatier TYPE OF CHOCOLATE: Bacon Chocolate Bar REACTION: This one is weird--weird like I can't stop eating it. -- Christian Lavery REACTION: It doesn't really taste like bacon, there's just a smoky essence. I like the smoked sea salt flavor. -- Marissa Smith, Fashion Assistant TYPE OF CHOCOLATE: Popcorn Chocolate Bar REACTION: People always think that they're a genius for mixing M&Ms into their bag of popcorn at the movies, but this is genius. Mmmmmm. -- Rebecca Willa Davis
BRAND: Askonosie TYPE OF CHOCOLATE: Phillippines White Chocolate REACTION: It tastes like Easter. -- Josh Madden REACTION: I don't really like white chocolate, but this is the one. -- Christian Lavery TYPE OF CHOCOLATE: Licorice Chocolate Bar REACTION: It didn't need to happen, but I'm glad that it did. It's good. -- Josh Madden
BRAND: Fran's Chocolates TYPE OF CHOCOLATE: Salted Caramels REACTION: This one is my favorite. It tastes like wedding cake. -- Josh Madden REACTION: Mmmmm. Oh my gosh. This is so good. -- Beth Garrabrant, Bookings Director
BRAND: Veruca Chocolate TYPE OF CHOCOLATE: Dark Chocolate Gelt with Nibs REACTION: I don't know if you've ever had gelt, but this is a million times better. -- Rebecca Willa Davis
BRAND: Christopher Elbow TYPE OF CHOCOLATE: Black and White Truffle REACTION: This one tasted like a really fancy Oreo that literally melted in my mouth. Best. Thing. Ever. -- Liza Darwin, Senior Web Editor TYPE OF CHOCOLATE: Lavender Caramel REACTION: It tastes like I'm in a fancy perfume bottle filled with caramel and cocoa powder. I feel like I just went to the opera in France. -- Jackie Yaeger, Newsletter Editor