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The mere thought of chocolate can bring smiles. Cacao has been used to uplift the spirits of those lucky enough to get their hands on it since it was first discovered. These days, there’s great news for all chocolate lovers: Not only can chocolate satisfy sweet teeth, it’s chock full of antioxidants and other health benefits—let that fact quell any guilt you may feel about indulging in bars or truffles! To help ensure you’re never without a sweet treat—especially on vacation!—trust your taste buds to these 10 drool-worthy chocolatiers and chocolate-making tours across the U.S.A.
Savor chocolate and bourbon at the same time! The folks at Art Eatables specialize in blending the two taste sensations together with such impressive success they became the world’s first bourbon certified chocolatier. Founded in 2011, this chocolatier began making delectable “small-batch bourbon truffles” after receiving numerous requests for the region’s classic bourbon balls (which were created in 1919 by Rebecca Ruth in Frankfort, KY). Art Eatables’ small-batch, handmade bourbon truffles take that sweet tradition to new heights of sophistication and taste splendor by focusing on the chocolate, the bourbon and pairing the two to show off both key ingredients’ assets. We adore the bourbon truffles, but Art Eatables also produces truffles with rum, whiskey and moonshine infusions as well as kid-friendly, alcohol-free options.
Photo Credit: Art Eatables
201 E Trade Street
Charlotte, North Carolina 28202
Bar Cocoa is a haven for everything chocolate. Located inside the glamorous downtown Ritz Carlton hotel, chocolate fans can overload on a variety of handcrafted chocolate truffles and pastries, and even take dessert classes in the incredible Cocoa Lab. Don’t miss out on the eye-catching macarons or quality custom cakes. Bar Cocoa is an essential stop for any dessert lover visiting the Queen City…and even reason enough to make the trip.
The folks at Creo Chocolate take great pride in the artisanal process of making chocolate bars from scratch and directly sourcing ingredients from a multi-generational family farm in Ecuador. Take a tour of their facility any Tuesday through Saturday and learn how to make your own bean-to-bar chocolate (at press time, classes are $20 per person). Tours make for a great family outing or team building activity, but the best part may be deciding which award-winning sweet treat to bring home. After all, nibbling on chocolate in your pajamas is a childish joy.
Celebrate the city of brotherly love with award-winning gourmet chocolates and confections by master chocolatier Christopher Curtin, who studied and honed his techniques in Belgium, France, Switzerland and Germany. Eclat is known for chocolate caramels that delightfully melt in your mouth, and Philadelphians have been lucky enough to snatch up fresh boxes of chocolates since 2005. The rest of us can order confections online by the box if travel to eastern Pennsylvania is not on the itinerary anytime soon.
If you want to learn about the origins of chocolate, the Maui Chocolate Tour is a must. With tropical climates warm enough to grow the cacao bean, Hawaii is the perfect location to get a glimpse into the true process of chocolate making. Located in Kupa’a Farms, the two-hour tour includes harvesting, roasting and grinding of the beans as well as a guided tasting of hand-crafted chocolate (at press time, tours are $59 per adult).
Montana Chocolate Company serves over 150 different handcrafted versions of traditional favorite chocolate treats as well as some innovations. You can find classic confections such as truffles, caramels, chocolate pretzels and fudge alongside novelty items and gag gifts made entirely of chocolate. Extra care is taken to ensure a great customer experience. Staff members are also eager to share helpful tips about how to pair chocolate with craft beer, wines, tea and coffee.
This family-friendly chocolatier has been open since 2007 and provides a fun stop for families and friends traveling to Music City. Enjoy a look into the chocolate-making experience every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (at press time, tours are $5 per person). After the tour, browse through the selection of artisanal chocolate bars and leave with as many treats as your pocketbook can handle—you’re less likely to regret a purchase than leaving an option behind.
A visit to Regina’s Candies is a must for any chocoholic. With recipes that go back three generations, this candy-making business is a family tradition known for its wide variety of 400+ chocolate confections. Daily guided tours offer a behind-the-scenes look at candy making where you can learn how to make Regina’s famous English toffee. The hardest decision that you’ll have to make is which handmade and hand-packed chocolates to take home. Fortunately, if you forget anything or need to restock, you can order online.
Slightly different than Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, but a factory nonetheless, Videri’s is also a chocolate oasis. Located in the middle of Raleigh’s warehouse district, you can hang out for hours in this heavenly-scented factory. If you want a sweet treat, options abound: Go for a single origin bean-to-bar chocolate tasting, a box of handmade bonbons, or even a frozen hot chocolate from the handcrafted beverage bar. No matter what your indulgences, purchase a bar or two to take home to satisfy later cravings.
Located inside Krog Street Market, one of Atlanta’s hippest food halls, sits the humble home of Xocolatl, a family-owned, bean-to-bar chocolate shop. Crowd favorites include inventive flavors like the Soul Rebel made with coconut milk chocolate and Jamaican spices as well as the Go Nuts made with dry roasted almonds and vanilla infused sea salt. Enjoy an hour-long tour of the micro-factory and a guided chocolate tasting with wine (at press time, tours and tastings are $25 per adult).
Andrea Janise is a food loving, beer drinking, art appreciating culturist living in Atlanta, Georgia. Follow along her food adventures on @ATLFoodWriter