Chocolate you could eat right off of the page! These elegant delights are from Chocolaterie Wanders of Manassas, Virginia.
STEPHANIE ZONIS is a Contributing Editor.
Updated March 2009
Gourmet Chocolate From America’s Artisan Chocolatiers: Part I
Good Things Come From Small Packagers
Page 1: Overview
CAPSULE REPORT: America’s artisan chocolatiers are doing exciting things in gourmet chocolate. Even if you never touch chocolate yourself, you’re bound to know at least one person for whom the mere mention of fine chocolate renders other subjects trivial and unimportant. With Valentine’s Day, Easter and Mother’s Day fast-approaching, you’re challenged to come up with something beyond the same old standard. With this list of little known but very deserving chocolate-makers, you’ll see how things can be kept fresh and new in any kind of relationship—be it chocolate or interpersonal. This is Page 1 of a 6-page review. Click on the black links below to visit other pages. FOLLOW UP: Due to the popularity of this article, we created Part II and Part III—more wonderful chocolatiers.
Gourmet Chocolate Overview
This is Part I of what we hope will be an ongoing discovery of exciting chocolate resources. Before we get to our “hot” list of boutique chocolatiers, there are a few things to consider. And it’s not just that better-quality chocolates will cost you more than those that are mass-produced.
Inventory. Because these chocolatiers are so small-scale and insistent on quality, chances are that they don’t have a massive inventory sitting around waiting to be shipped out. They don’t have enormous staffs of kitchen elves, either, so order as early as possible or risk disappointment.
Shelf Life. Don’t plan to keep these chocolates for months on end; don’t order them at Easter to give to your someone special in August. Most of these chocolates do not contain preservatives, and are more perishable than those that are factory-produced by the ton. In fact, while the chocolatiers will tell you to consume their products within two weeks, the flavors of the fresh herbs, fruits and spices used to flavor the centers will begin to break down after the first week.
Photo: A chocolate ganesh, the Indian elephant deity, from Chocolate Deities. The chocolate tablet is painted with edible luster.
Health Benefits (Not). Finally, don’t believe the hype you hear about chocolate being good for your health. Dark and milk chocolates do contain high levels of antioxidants, but they also have similarly elevated quantities of fat, sugar and calories. On a per-calorie basis, many fruits and vegetables contain higher levels of antioxidants than does chocolate. Most people are not ready to eat 100% cacao chocolate for their health (no sugar, like baking chocolate) so regard chocolate as what it is: a delicious indulgence.
Now, the fun part. Let’s get to the names! Please note that this list is by no means comprehensive; there are untold numbers of fine chocolate-makers scattered about the U.S., and I encourage you to seek them out and try their products. Manufacturers are listed in alphabetical order. Links to websites are provided and addresses are listed for any physical stores.
Continue To Page 2: Chocolate Deities & Chocolaterie Wanders
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