Saturday, December 9, 2006

2006 Chocolate Gift Guide

I was poking around a couple of weeks ago at my Holiday Gift Guide from 2005 and was (if I may say so) pleased that it’s still a pretty good guide. So instead of just doing the same thing over again, I thought I’d kind of do a summary of where I’ve been this year but also use it as an opportunity to help you Go Regional!

There are a couple of ways to look at this. You can give folks something from their own area, which is a great gift because it means that they can go back there, or you can give them something from your area, as a way of personalizing the item. Or you can give them something from a place they’re planning on visiting, kind of like a proactive welcome wagon.


(you can make fun of my map and the way I divided up and named the regions ... I have no idea what I was thinking)


West Coast (California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho & Nevada)

Recchiuti (San Francisco) - fine chocolates from Michael Recchiuti located in the Ferry Terminal in San Francisco. Lots of herbal combination infusions, uncommon ingredients and savory inclusions. Known also for their sauces. (order online) Expensive

Charles Chocolates (Emeryville) - no company-run store, so you can only order online or find them at other chocolate shops. Many items such as the triple coated nuts and the high-end bars would make excellent stocking stuffers. (order online) Expensive

Cocoa Bon (Los Gatos) - a perfect supplier of stocking stuffers, their cute little chocolate tins are filled with more than chocolate wafers, they also have spiced caramels, toffees and chocolate covered coffee beans. Check out their cocktail-inspired jelly beans, too. (order online) Moderate

Boule - interesting truffles, tasty caramels and nougats but if fruit is your thing, give the pate de fruit a try. (order online) Expensive

Chuao Chocolatier (Encinitas) - Venezuelan inspired chocolatier with tasty truffle combos and some truly strange ones as well. Tasty chocolate bars (I liked the nib one) in other stores. (order online) Expensive

Plush Puffs (Sherman Oaks) - fun flavors of tasty marshmallows. (order online) Moderate

Sees - known of tasty caramels, nuts and chews. Their truffles and other candies are good quality. (order online) Inexpensive

Shaymee’s Aussie Toffee (Pleasanton, CA) - high quality ingredients from this nutted toffee company. (buy online) Inexpensive

Valerie Confections (Los Angeles) - superb seasonal nougat and excellent toffee in elegant presentational boxes. (order online) Expensive

Fran’s (Seattle) - probably one of the best known of the sea salt caramel makers, they have a pretty good selection of other truffles and chocolate dipped fruits. (order online) Moderate

Seattle Chocolates - good quality chocolates with some cool combinations, they also make Chick Chocolates. (order online) Moderate

Big Island Candies - why should Hawaiians have all the fun at the beach? Macadamia and Coffee items are to be expected, but don’t forget the traditional truffles and dipped shortbreads. (order online) Moderate

Chocolate Shops to Explore in Person

CocoaBella (San Francisco) - great chocolate shop, especially if you want to combine chocolates from a variety of chocolatiers: Amadei, Christopher Elbow, Charles Chocolates, Knipschildt Chocolatier, Marquise de Sevigne, Michel Cluizel & Pralineur Van Coillie. You can build a custom, mixed maker box or order one of their World’s Best Chocolates boxes. (order online) Expensive

Sahagun (Portland)- no shipping here, just fresh and tasty candies straight from the kitchen to your mouth. Expensive

Mel & Rose Wine & Spirits (Los Angeles) - feature a wide selection of consumer chocolates and candies from around the world that are great as stocking stuffers, but also an excellent variety of couture and high end bars and boxes from MarieBelle, Michel Cluizel, Vosges, Valerie Confections as well as, you know, wine & spirits. (Their website) Inexpensive-Expensive


Mountain & Prairie Region (Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota & North Dakota)

Best Regards (Olathe, KS)- small town gift baskets with big homemade items like the Craves barks, comfort sweets (chocolate dipped Oreos) and tasty cookies. (order online) Moderate

Enstrom’s Toffee (Grand Junction, CO) - amazing planks of that caramelized sugar and butter mixture known as toffee. (order online) Moderate

Hammond’s Candy (Denver, CO) - beautiful hard candies made by hand. (order online) Inexpensive

Xocoatl (Taos) - truffles, nuts and the specialty of the house, spiced chocolate. (order online) Expensive


Midwest & Ohio River Valley (Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky & West Virigina)

Christopher Elbow (Kansas City, MO) - artisanal chocolates made with fresh ingredients (order online) Expensive

Ethel’s (Chicago) - fine chocolates from Mars ... who knew? (order online) Expensive

Harry London Chocolates (Canton, OH) - Buckeyes (peanut butter chocolates) melty mints, and Cookie Joys. (phone orders only) Moderate

Vosges (Chicago) - spices and teas in fine chocolate. (order online) Expensive


Northeast (Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont & Maine)

Knipschildt (Norwalk, CT) - fresh nuts, herbs and spices in rich high quality chocolate. (order online) Expensive

Jacques Torres (NYC) - cute molded chocolate, inventive panned items (cornflakes, fruits & nuts), great hot chocolate mixes and of course truffles. (order online) Moderate-Expensive

Lake Champlain (Burlington, VT) - a rather large company now, good quality all natural ingredients. Traditional and high end assortments. (order online) Moderate

MarieBelle (New York) - chocolates cute as a button and swell hot chocolate mixes. (order online)

Sweet Riot (NYC) - chocolate cover cacao nibs in cute ever-changing artistic tins. (order online) Expensive


Southern Eastern Seaboard (Tennesee, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina & Georgia)

Charleston Candy Kitchen & Savannah Candy (Savannah, GA) - crumbly tender pecan pralines, oh the pecans. They’re in everything. (order online) Moderate

Flippin’ Fudge (Canton, GA) - tasty gourmet fudge in cute individually wrapped pieces and fun flavors (I liked the peanut butter). (order online) Moderate
(after I divided up the country I realized that I had only one entry for this region ... I guess it’s something to work on in the new year)


Gulf Coast & Texas (Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Kansas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma & Texas)

Laemmes Pralines (Austin) - the chewy pecan praline like no other. (order online) Moderate

Laura’s Candies (New Orleans) - open again after Hurricane Katrina, known for their wide selection of traditional and chewy pecan pralines, modest prices and heritage in the French Quarter. (order online) Moderate

Norman Love - stunningly presented chocolates in inventive and comfort food styles. (order online) Expensive

Susie’s South Forty Confections (Midland, TX) - chewy pralines, extraordinarily dense almond toffee and other gift items. (order online) Moderate

Nothing there to your liking? I’ll have more ideas for candy lovin’ gift givin’ over the next few days!

UPDATE (12/10/06): Looks like I’ve been Farked. Welcome new visitors. Just to clarify if you’re not a regular Candy Blog reader, my recommendations above are for places I have actually TRIED and LIKED. Yes, there are gaps and I appreciate everyone’s suggestions for the new year ... it all sounds very tasty!

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:08 pm Tracker Pixel for Entry     CandyGift GuideChristmasFun StuffShopping

  1. I wish the candy in my section wasn’t so far away! The nearest is in NYC, over 3 hours! Baltimore does have a couple of homegrown chocolate companies, you know! Rheb’s is amazing! Best caramels ever, and I have had some of the fancy ones from the big city’s big name confectionaries!

    Comment by rachel on 12/09/06 at 5:45 pm #
  2. A few of my favorites here in Atlanta:
    Maison Robert:

    Pamela’s Chocolates
    10800 Alpharetta Hwy
    Roswell, GA 30076
    (770) 998-1675

    Lexington Chocolatier

    and of course Monk’s Fudge Southern Touch Fudge:

    Comment by Fred Slate on 12/09/06 at 6:53 pm #
  3. Last time I checked, Washington DC was part of the United States, but it doesn’t seem to exist on your map.

    Comment by me on 12/09/06 at 9:09 pm #
  4. “Pecan pralines”: the favorite dessert of the Department of Redundancy Department.

    Comment by Dee on 12/10/06 at 12:25 am #
  5. Last time I checked, there was more to maryland than you have on your map… but I guess since the eastern shore is overwhelmingly republican it was dropped for normal reasons.

    Comment by Jim McMurdo on 12/10/06 at 1:11 am #
  6. Your list isn’t very thorough if you’ve left off Bissinger’s in St. Louis.

    Their Pershing Avenue location is a real treat as it is pretty much unchanged since the 1920s.

    Comment by Extreme Glow on 12/10/06 at 2:40 am #
  7. Or Crown Candy Kitchen for that matter.

    Comment by Extreme Glow on 12/10/06 at 2:53 am #
  8. Anyone in the midwest needs to know about DeBrand Chocolates in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The apricot filled dark chocolates are heaven.

    Comment by Jonathan on 12/10/06 at 2:56 am #
  9. Since you only have ONE little place listed for my area of the country, I will have to educate you.  I live up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of SW Virginia, and in our tiny little mountain town, we have the BEST chocolate/fudge factory ever.

    It’s called Nancy’s Homemade Fudge. They have the BEST chocolates…chocolate dipped everything…from Rice Krispie Treats to pretzels to Oreo cookies. Plus, they have a fabulous selection of sugar-free chocolates, every kind of fudge you can imagine, and chocolate, chocolate, chocolate.

    Plus, you can watch them creating all their chocolate treats through the big windows at the back of the store.

    Comment by Kristin on 12/10/06 at 3:46 am #
  10. Don’t forget Gearhart’s Chocolates in Charlottesville, VA!

    Or River Street Sweets in Savannah, Charleston, and a few other locations:

    Comment by Caroline on 12/10/06 at 4:00 am #
  11. We’ve got two sensational shops in Chicagoland to add to your list:

    Belgian Chocolatier Piron (Evanston and waaaaay better than corporate Ethel’s):

    bon bon (Chicago):

    Comment by kim on 12/10/06 at 5:08 am #
  12. Sarris Chocolates in Cannonsburg, PA takes the cake for me. Mmmmmmmmmm.

    Comment by Tindy on 12/10/06 at 5:17 am #
  13. Choclaterie Stam is a Des Moines favorite.  Dutch chocolate with local fillings.

    Comment by Cindy on 12/10/06 at 8:28 am #

    Comment by Cindy on 12/10/06 at 8:29 am #
  15. Kirchmayr chocolate in Baltimore is known to be amazing - German chocolatier relocated

    Comment by Jamie on 12/11/06 at 6:54 am #
  16. For the West Coast region, try Moonstruck in Portland Oregon. They’re the absolute best!

    Comment by Nikk on 12/11/06 at 7:06 am #
  17. I second Moonstruck in Portland, Oregon and need to add Euphoria which is in Eugene:

    Also, for the northeast, Wilbur’s Chocolates is just down the street from the LL Bean store in Freeport. It’s considered one of the best in the state:

    Comment by TheBon on 12/11/06 at 8:14 am #
  18. I’d like to put in a suggestion for the Ohio/Midwest region. Malleys is a Cleveland area chain and my life would be far worse if I didn’t have some chocolate from there every Easter.

    Comment by Megan on 12/11/06 at 12:50 pm #
  19. You should check out Joseph Schmidt Confectioners in SF:

    And my absolute favorite is Lake Champlain Chocolates in Vermont. Their peppermint and dark chocolate is heavenly!

    Comment by Leslie on 12/11/06 at 2:08 pm #
  20. Oops, you’ve already got Lake Champlain. Sorry!

    Comment by Leslie on 12/11/06 at 2:09 pm #
  21. I second Chuao Chocolates! They have the best Spicy hot chocolate.

    Comment by chronicler on 12/11/06 at 5:41 pm #
  22. Nothing in D.C., huh?  How about Neuhaus in Union Station . . . .

    Comment by me on 12/12/06 at 2:47 am #
  23. Two additions:

    XOX Truffles in San Francisco’s North Beach - amazing.

    Algamesis Brothers in Cincinnati - not only chocolates; they have an honest-to-goodness ice cream parlor with soda fountain and food.

    Comment by c on 12/14/06 at 9:00 am #
  24. wow—you are amazing!!  What a great guide.

    Comment by erin on 12/14/06 at 9:11 am #
  25. Beautiful gourmet cakes and store made chocolates made with the finest ingredients.

    Comment by Joanne on 12/19/06 at 7:11 pm #
  26. Sorry forgot the name:  Bon Bon Bakery & Chocolates located in San Diego (inside Bernardo Winery)  Enjoy a relaxing walk through the winery, a little winetasting and end the day with a piece of high quality chocolate or cake.

    Comment by Joanne on 12/19/06 at 7:13 pm #
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