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Godiva Bashers- I need advice

Where else do you go to get your fix of assorted chocolates and truffles?

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  1. Why, what's wrong with Godiva?

    I go there for truffles. For bar chocolate, which I don't eat as much, I do Ghirardelli.

    17 Replies
    1. re: Covert Ops

      Godiva is so waxy - you can basically taste it. In NYC, I like Teuscher and Leonida's, also Neuhaus (I believe they have a shop in DC). Even if I wasn't paying, I'd much prefer Lindt's over Godiva.

      1. re: welle

        I agree: Neuhaus! I think they have a shop in SF, too. Godiva tastes and feels like Hershey's; See's fillings are way too sweet, but at least they use Guittard chocolate.

        1. re: Claudette

          Have to agree completely with Neuhaus! It's my absolute favorite. For a cheaper and more accessible fix, I like Lindt's 70% dark too.

        2. re: welle

          I don't like Teuscher...too smooth? Too refined? Too milky? I feel the same way about Lindt. I do like Leonidas & LaMaisonduChocolat for high-end stuff, but for "daily" use I like el Rey or Valrhona.

          1. re: Hungry Celeste

            I also like El Rey or Valrhona, but the OP asked about mixed chocolates and truffles, methink.

            1. re: welle

              That's why I listed La Maison du Chocolate & Leonidas. LaMduC's jolika is my favorite, but I also like the ginger (maiko?) as well. You can buy the tiny individual pieces in all the flavors, but the most popular ones come in a larger size...around $5/ea.

              1. re: Hungry Celeste

                I like LMdC, but felt it was way out of league for Godiva - it's like recommending Porsche against Ford. sorry, Godiva-lovers, but that's how I feel.

          2. re: welle

            Godiva is owned by Hersheys. Need I say more.

            1. re: missclaudy

              I know that there are chocolates out there that are better than hersheys but...well a hershey bar is just very satisfying. It takes me to a happy, cozy, warm kinda place.

              1. re: missclaudy

                I'm not a big Godiva fan, but I didn't think they were owned by Hersheys. Are you sure you're not thinking of Scharffen Berger?

                1. re: David Kahn

                  Scharffen is owned only about 25% by Hershey. It enabled them to open a second factory, on the east coast.

                  1. re: welle

                    Thanks for the correction.Instead of cherry cordials,maybe they'll make chocolates filled with cream of celery soup

                    1. re: missclaudy

                      Right, because all companies owned by large conglomerate mix their brands all the time. That's why Altria sell Marlboro-flavoured Oreos, and why Pepsico sell Dorito-flavoured Gatorade.

                      One company can have two brands that are wildly different -- just because they're owned by the same public holding company doesn't make them the same product.

              2. re: Covert Ops

                Godiva for me always tastes like that vile nonfat powdered milk. There is always a horrible "off" taste.

                See's gets slammed too, but I think a lot of their stuff is great. My dad and I have a decades-long love of the Bordeaux flavor.

                1. re: Covert Ops

                  Godiva is terrible tasting. In Belgium they are known for their beautiful presentations (which they can achieve by having a lower concentration of real chocolate), but Leonidas which is the poormans praline wins blind taste tests over & over again.

                  Leonidas is relatively new in the U.S., Santa Monica being the only one I know of... but even See's Candy provides a better tasting product.

                  1. re: Eat_Nopal

                    Came here to the East Coast about 10 years and was introduced to Godiva around then. For a chocoholic, I thought, "What's the big deal? See's is much better. Not as pretty, but when you eat chocolate, you go for the taste." Just my two cents worth.

                2. I much prefer See's. The presentation isn't as fancy, but the candy is just as good (or better, IMO) and it's much more affordable.

                  If I'm going to pay Godiva prices, I much prefer artisan chocolates. Don't know where you live, but there's no shortage of them in San Francisco (Recchuiti seems to be the favorite, and I love Cocoa Bella too).

                  18 Replies
                  1. re: Pei

                    See's is our REAL San Francisco treat! Mary See is their figurehead - her grey haired, black and white photo-visage smiling from See's stylish Black and white Art Deco shops all over SF since the 1920's. If you get to SF stop in for some free samples. But they will happily fulfill your chocolate fantasies via mail order during the cooler months. Although there is plenty you can still get all year, such as their absolutely must-have hard-candy chocolate lollipops - I always bring a couple to the movies. Do yourself a favor and give them a call. Get on their catalog mailing list. They have beautiful packaging for different holidays. The bon bons such as key lime and apple pie are amazing as are the chocolate truffles in many different flavors. See's is my all time favorite dark chocolate. I much prefer it to Godiva. It's a nice deep but clean chocolate taste, without bitterness or aftertaste.

                    1. re: niki rothman

                      Not to nitpick, but See's (LOVE See's!!!!) started in Los Angeles in 1921, and the first San Francisco See's outpost opened in 1936. VĂ©ase:


                      So a few good things in the world did originate in LA after all!

                      1. re: rjw_lgb_ca

                        To nit pick further, it comes from Pasadena, home of The Rose Bowl.

                        1. re: rjw_lgb_ca

                          One could argue that since Mary See was Canadian, it's really Canadian chocolate.

                          Any way, big See's fan due to the balance in flavors, texture, etc. Not into chocolate where you have one piece and it's already too much.

                          1. re: ML8000

                            Amazing. I wonder if there's a biography of Mary See. How did you all find out about her? Somehow Pasadena seems to fit her. There is a big See's factory just south of SF near the airport. See's seems quintessentially San Francisco somehow, though.

                            1. re: niki rothman

                              The Canadian info is from the link rjw_lgb_ca provided.

                              I read it a long time ago but just checked to see it there. Grew up in SoCal, sold the candy as a boy scout and can ID most pieces by sight after years of munching on it and pinching the bottom as a kid and putting them back if they were icky.

                              See's does have a SF feel but then at one point LA was just as quaint as SF. The pre-war instituations that survive in LA are just as cool and good...just not a lot.

                        2. re: niki rothman

                          Well, niki, you've just made the carrot sticks I've been eating at my desk seem wholly unappealing. I went to See's site and it looks fab. Went to place an order but the shipping to the UK costs close to $50! Whoa. Woe!

                          I may have to get someone in the US to send them to me!

                          1. re: Kagey

                            Sees are pleasant chocolates but they are not worth shipping to the UK. They taste like classic American chocolates (sweeter, larger, enjoyable but not complex).

                            1. re: JudiAU

                              Definitely. I could never eat a whole box. They're something I buy one or two of when I'm in the mood for sweets at the shopping mall, but mostly because they always give you one extra for free! :) Such a nice quaint friendly shop. Godiva is just something I would never think to buy.

                              For shipping all the way to tye UK, I'd go with the other suggestions like Recchiutti, Teuscher, Vosges, Mirabelle, etc.

                              1. re: Pei

                                But DO you really want to eat a whole box of any candy? This is not a put down, because I used to do just that. Now, 2 pieces is all I want to eat at one time. I want pleasure - to savor my chow. When I overdo it instead of being a wonderful relationship it beomes a scary attraction repulsion thing. Ironically, See's motto emblazoned on their advertising: "See's, the Happy Habit!" So, when I sit down, relax, and meditatively mull over just which 2 bon bons out of that box I'm REALLY in the mood for, then savor them, giving them my undivided attention (I even make the experience last as long as possible by taking little bites)- then I'm one really satisfied candy loving chowhound. Now, what's the difference between that "happy habit" and eating sweets on the run at the at the shopping mall, maybe because one is free?

                                1. re: niki rothman

                                  Of course I have access to amazing chocolate in England. But it was the See's lollipops that got me.

                                  1. re: Kagey

                                    Actually, one of my favorite chocolates is Thornton's which you can't get in the states. Years and years ago, they had an shop in Chicago at Water Tower Place, which is where I first tried them. I once ordered and had them shipped to Boston. Too expensive to do, especially since my disposable income had dropped singficantly over the past few years! I think I mostly fell in love with something that was called a butter truffle. It is just amazing. I look at their website once in a while just to see that lovely piece of candy and try to remember what it tastes like. Mmmm...

                                  2. re: niki rothman

                                    oh, i could definitely eat a whole box! well, specifically, a one-lb box of nuts and chews. it's that kind of chocolate: not too dark or rich. a very addictive treat.

                                2. re: JudiAU

                                  See's is larger than what? Their truffles are far smaller than the majority I've encountered over the years.

                                  1. re: Atomica

                                    It depends on what kind of truffles you're comparing them too. True French truffles are rather small -- just a nugget of pure chocolate goodness. After truffles caught on in the US they started getting bigger (what else is new?) and what are now considered truffles in the US -- the huge domes of chocolate-covered ganache are really not truffles at all.

                                    See's truffles are actually closer to European truffles, although they still don't resemble the true French truffle (so named because its irregular shape and cocoa coating resemble the fungus truffle). Since I clearly remember buying truffles from See's in 1975, they may even predate the popularizing of the French-style truffle in the US by Alice Medrich.

                                3. re: Kagey

                                  kagey, 100 CHs, 100 different opinions. I copletely agree w judi and pei; i don't think you're missing anything in the see's candies. you're far better off looking to your european neighbors- and your own Black and Green products are nothing to sneeze at either.

                                  1. re: Kagey

                                    You will probably find it in the shops at Heathrow or Gatwick, whichever is closest to you!

                                  2. re: niki rothman

                                    Why (and when) did they stop making their truffles in the little log shape? Now their truffles look like everyone else's.

                                4. Definitely See's! I'm from California and grew up on See's -- now I'm in Michigan and have to depend on my mom to send me my favorites. (well, I could order them, but my mom doesn't charge me for shipping)

                                  There are few candy shops around here that have good, reasonably priced products, so I have to order most of my chocolates. If you don't mind going that route, I can offer some suggestions.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: L Powell

                                    I believe they now sell See's in Chicago...which is just slightly closer.

                                    1. re: ML8000

                                      Yes, I found it! I was on my way home from a vacation in Chicago and stumbled upon the See's store, which is in Downers Grove.

                                  2. I just tried XOX the otehr day and they are really good. the shop is in North Beach.

                                    My favorite is Vosges. They have bars at Fog City and Whole Foods, and online ordering.

                                    Oh, you should go to Fog City News. It's on Market street at about 1st. It's a new stand that has an amazing selection of chocolates (mostly bars).

                                    Godiva has never done it for me. I'd choose See's over Godiva any day. I also like Recchuiti, but haven't been in awhile since they stopped making my s'mores four pack :-)

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: Sebby

                                      XOX are the best, hands down.

                                      Mary See isn't a real person. Sorry. But the candy is good.

                                      1. re: sgwood415

                                        I was watching one of those "MOdern Marvels" on History Channel last night and yesterday's show was on candies. They had some VP from See's on the show, and he said Mary See did exist. The company actually was started by her son, but he used her as an image for the company.

                                        1. re: sgwood415

                                          once again, she does exist, there are 2 links farther up here that have the history. Her son named the company for her.

                                      2. Chuao in Irvine does it for me, or even the tiny little chocolates from Jin Patisserie on Abbot Kinney in Venice.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                          Chuao and Jin are both amazing. But man,the shipping costs to the East Coast are murder. Burdick's (more discussion further down) is excellent in a similar style.

                                          See's is, as already mentioned, a totally different style but you can't beat the value for the money.

                                        2. Richart is excellent but very expensive. I see nothing wrong with Godiva.

                                          1. This place is close to the east coast. I would not presume to tell you what you would like. You have to try on your own. It's a tough job, but I'll bet you're up to it. I was very impressed with these.


                                            1. Chocolate preferrences are pretty subjective, and it really depends on what you're looking for. Like a lot of people I find Godiva to be rather cloying -- either too sweet or too oily from the over use of hazelnut. I do really like their dark chocolate raspberry bars, but other than that, I'm also a See's partisan (you don't need to come to SF -- See's is all over the Western US). See's mail order is also really good -- you can actually custom-pack a box online, just as you would at the store, for no extra charge.

                                              But See's is what I would consider "mid-range" chocolate -- there are also lots of high-end chocolates that are fabulous (and range from expensive to fabulously expensive). I like some Recchuiti offerings a lot, but I would never buy a pre-packed box, because I don't like all their flavors, and at those prices, I can't afford to pay for chocolates I don't like. I would say the same for Chuao -- they have a lot of "experimental" flavors combinations, and you may or may not like them.

                                              LA Burdick makes wonderful chocolates and truffles -- even though some of the flavor combos tend toward the novel, I don't remember a loser in the bunch.

                                              I also have a preferrence for thinner-shelled chocolates, over some of the high-end chocolates that come in thick molded shells. However, in the thicker, molded shell type, I can recommend Leonides from Belgium and Woodhouse from Napa Valley.

                                              Nirvana makes amazing caramels that changed my whole attitude toward chocolate-covered caramels.

                                              1. john&kira's chocolates... check them out online. absolutely the freshest tasting chocolates ever. just because we live in philly doesn't mean we can't get down with the best of them. also, the chocolate show is going on in NYC this weekend. my hubby is from cali and is a see's freak. we get them via mail and for gifts from his folks. they don't last long around here!

                                                1. Burdicks in Cambridge is unparalled. Serious Chocolates by Larry Burdick of Walpole NH. INCROYABLE!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: ftmagellan

                                                    I was reading down the thread thinking, no one said Burdick's yet? But here it is. The chocolates are serious, and seriously fresh. And beautiful to boot. And small, so you can eat a couple. And while you're ordering, get some of their hot chocolate too.

                                                    1. re: Dizzied

                                                      Do you have any info on getting info on purchasing them mail order?

                                                      1. re: Dizzied

                                                        I second (or third, or fourth...) Burdicks. I think Ruth made mention of some of the flavors being "novel." My husband won a box for a baking contest (and he's cute, too!) last year. It certainly included varieties we never would have chosen by name, or description (lemon pepper comes to mind), but all were delicious-truly delectable.

                                                    2. I am not a fan of Godiva, at all...See's all the way.

                                                      1. in NYC, Jacques Torres; Maribelle; sometimes Neuhaus. I think See's is way too sweet.

                                                        1. I actually like Godiva. And I am not a fan of See's. See's milk chocolate is not creamy at all...it is just overly sweet. It's very much in the american style, and I prefer european-style chocolate, which is much richer and less sweet. It seems like at least some of the See's fans like dark chocolate...maybe it's better for that, but for milk chocolate I think Godiva is WAY better than sees. But Teuscher (located in Beverly Hills and Newport Beach, not just in NYC) is a big step above Godiva. But it's even more expensive, of course. Their champagne truffles are amazing...probably my favorite truffles ever. Michel Cluizel also has great milk chocolate truffles. I'm mostly a milk chocolate truffle kind of person, but for dark chocolate, I like Vosges bars.

                                                          1. On a recent trip to Chicago, my partner and I enjoyed some truffles from Moonstruck Chocolates - http://www.moonstruckchocolate.com

                                                            We tried the Clear Creek Pear Brandy, Pure Gold, Raspberry Chambord, Mayan and Theobroma Banana Cream, and each was amazing. I'm sitting here now, considering placing an order....

                                                            1. I eat exclusively artisan chocolates, mostly made here in Portland. Moonstruck is Portland-based, yet those who know prefer small handmade creators here. They leave Moonstruck in the dust with their artistry, freshness, texture, complexity, and subtlety.

                                                              Written up in NY Times, LA Times, American Express Magazine.


                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: Leonardo

                                                                Sahagun's Elizabeth Montes is probably my favorite chocolatier in the US. I just wish she'd get her mail-order business up and running.


                                                              2. Godiva is decent mall chocolate - no more and no less.

                                                                In NYC, I like Jacques Torres, Kee's, MarieBelle, Martine's, and especially La Maison du Chocolate.

                                                                1. I was not aware Godiva-bashing was so popular.

                                                                  Although I don't care for their "candies"... I think their bar chocolate is excellent. The 70% has a nice, fairly intense, middle-of-the-road chocolate flavor, with very good mouth feel.

                                                                  I've done a lot of side by side chocolate tasting, and Godiva always surprises me...because I did tend to lift my nose at it because it is so readily available.

                                                                  I'm really surprised at the Neuhaus fans...I find it to border on insipid. I haven't had their bar chocolate(do they have any), perhaps I would like that better.

                                                                  My very favorites, which I can barely afford, are Michael Cluizel, Vosge, and my fave to date...Amadei.

                                                                  This thread has reminded me that the season has arrived where chocolate will not melt in transit....time to order from Chocosphere!

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: danna

                                                                    Yeah, I'm not a Neuhaus fan, either. I think what some people call "refined" I call bland and ... over-processed. Many European (or European style) chocolates seem to have been "refined" and processed almost to the point of being oily or greasy, especially those with hazelnuts (aks gianduja) added, which seems to be ubiquitous in their milk chocolates (confections, that is, not bar chocolates).

                                                                    Whoever remarked that See's fans prefer the dark chocolate was right. I hardly ever buy any of their milk chocolates, unless I'm in the mood for that hit of sweetness. Otherwise, it's all dark.

                                                                  2. No Contest, it's Chuao:


                                                                    After living near the original store I've become addicted and now sadly have to ship them to myself! Other chocolates can come close but nothing has beat Chuao.

                                                                    They blend traditional Belgian and French techniques with outstanding pure Venezuelan chocolate. They are constantly putting out original creations with intriguing flavors. Personal favorites include the "Modena" a dark chocolate bonbon with a caramel that's deglazed with a strawberry pulp and a bit of balsamic from (of course) Modena, the "Zen" dark bonbon filled with green tea, and the "Passion Fruit" yet another bonbon which fills your mouth with a delightful passion fruit liquid when you bite into it (its best to pop the whole thing in at once!). They also have a spicy Mayan hot chocolate that has won a lot of awards and is really good on a cold Midwestern day!

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: ExercisetoEat

                                                                      I was looking around their clumsy-navigation website and darned if I could find out the price per pound!

                                                                    2. it think the op is from dc area. perhaps my vote for b.t. mcelrath will not be very helpful, but they do mail order, & it's closer than cali!

                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                      1. re: soupkitten

                                                                        Any info on how to order them, contact them?

                                                                        1. re: niki rothman

                                                                          B. T. McElrath in MN makes heavenly artisanal chocolates. There is one sale location in DC. I have a regular houseguest from Minneapolis - blessedly arriving next week - who always brings boxes as a hostess gift. I cannot wait until my supply arrives! And I'm not even that big a chocolate fan since most of it is so ordinary and barely worth the trouble.
                                                                          http://btmcelrath.com/locations.asp has all the locations where it is available. Their seasonal chocolates are incredibly creative! And everything has an artist's touch!

                                                                          1. re: MakingSense

                                                                            thanks Making Sense-- yes-- don't miss the passionfruit truffles, signature dark truffles, lavender/peppercorn truffles. . . i could go on. i am not a chocoholic & do not go out of my way to seek out the most brilliant truffle in the world, but i can say that the truffles made by this artisan are awesome, creatively flavored and the work of a meticulous craftsman. i tell people to be sitting down in a chair and not trying to do anything or hold a conversation when eating these confections-- you forget about all else but the truffle. dh summed it up-- "i didn't know a candy could make me feel like this." i might be divorced, if it were not for these chocs. they should airdrop b.t. mcelrath truffle assortments over war zones to attain world peace. i would rec that you order them straight from the minneapolis factory to get them as fresh as possible, they aren't engineered for long-term shelf-stability like godiva etc

                                                                            1. re: soupkitten

                                                                              >> they should airdrop b.t. mcelrath truffle assortments over war zones to attain world peace.

                                                                              Amen! B.T. McElrath truffles have saved my marriage, several times.


                                                                            2. re: MakingSense

                                                                              Hah! I looked on their site and found a place that sells them only a short drive away from me. Thanks.

                                                                        2. If you're open to online orders - my favorite places are vosges (www.vosgeschocolate.com ) for their bars and serendipity chocolates(www.serendipitychocolates.com ) for their truffles. You'll find these to be MUCH better than godiva (and it is around the same prices.


                                                                          I also see you're a DC hound - Knipschildt (sold at the Dean & Deluca in Georgetown, also at www.knipschildt.com ) has some pretty interesting stuff too.

                                                                          Best and hope you do report back! ;



                                                                          1. definitely Vosges, then Teuscher(my grandfather's favorite...I grew up on them), then Neuhaus

                                                                            if I can't find one of the above I'll just as soon go without

                                                                            1. If a Vosges store is nearby, they offer a tasting menu...if you can't decide :)

                                                                              1. For the day to day craving just a good old fashioned Hershey bar works for me. And let's not forget the best of all, Hershey Kisses.

                                                                                For some indulgence, I go for Lindt. After having Godiva in Europe it is impossible to eat the Americanized version ever again, too many preservatives.

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: jfood

                                                                                  Hershey's doesn't even taste like chocolate...

                                                                                  1. re: welle

                                                                                    It's super grainy and just yuck consistency overall. I always notice an unpleasant black pepper-y aftertaste.

                                                                                2. Chocolate shouldn't be made by a company that makes soup.


                                                                                  I like to find small, privately owned chocolate shops. They usually are the most unique.

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: andlulu

                                                                                    Some of our best locally owned chocolate companies in the SF Bay Area have been bought up by multinational conglomerates. RIP.

                                                                                    1. re: andlulu

                                                                                      Not sure if u meant Hearshey's and if so Hershey's does not. If ur not referring to Hershey's, oops.

                                                                                      1. re: jfood

                                                                                        I'm referring to the topic, Godiva is made by Campbells Soup Co.

                                                                                    2. For day to day stuff, my favourite has been chocovic bars, especially the Ecuadorian varietal (Guaranda).

                                                                                        1. Lots of good suggestions already. I especially agree about L.A. Burdick, which is excellent. Also, there are a number of excellent choices on http://www.chocosphere.com . Finally, if you live in or near Manhattan, Max Brenner (for which there is currently, unfortunately, no longer a good on-line source) is hard to beat. (http://www.maxbrenner.com/branches.html )

                                                                                          1. If you want something unusual, and utterly delicious, Vosges is great. You can order online, but I have gone to the store and had hot chocolate and truffles. It was great fun!

                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: josheva

                                                                                              Some flavors of Vosges I enjoy, others I do not.

                                                                                              1. re: Atomica

                                                                                                I agree with you completely. It's kind of hit or miss. But, when it's a hit, it's incredible!

                                                                                                1. re: Atomica

                                                                                                  I've yet to had a miss with Vosges - then again, I shied away from the really far-out stuff (the ones with balsamic vinegar, or kalamata olives) - but the unusual ones I have tried (include the wasabi one) are really yummy


                                                                                              2. I love Lake Champlain chocolate (not the truffles, though). Great mouthfeel, IMO, and strong but not too strong chocolate taste. I've only had the dark, not the milk.

                                                                                                My most formative chocolate memory is of a cocoa-dusted chocolate truffle at the Godiva store that used to be in the St. Regis hotel c. early 80s. I was nine and it was the best thing I'd ever tasted. That said, their chocolate really seems to have changed. Maybe a switch to corn syrup? And they definitely haven't had the truffle I loved for years. I'll eat the Godiva happily, but I don't seek it out.

                                                                                                1. Not sure if this has been said already, but here is one reason Godiiva is bad. Check out this ingredient list for their bitersweet chocolate:

                                                                                                  Sugar, Chocolate (Processed with Alkali), Cocoa Butter, Butter Oil, Soya Lecithin-an Emulsifier, Milk, Vanillin-an Artificial Flavoring

                                                                                                  Butter oil (instead of all cocoa butter) and vanillin (instead of real vanilla) are particularly bad news. Emulsifiers and milk also have no place in real dark chocolate. Processing with alkali is not something that great chocolate makers do wither, is it?

                                                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: mhoffman

                                                                                                    Just a quick web search shows that "Dutch processing" is done with alkali.

                                                                                                      1. re: mhoffman

                                                                                                        Not for me. I think Godiva tastes awful.

                                                                                                    1. re: mhoffman

                                                                                                      Soy lecithin is used in a number of quality dark chocolates, including Pralus, El Rey, Dagoba, Marcolini, E. Guittard, Valrhona, and Plantations. It's used as a surfactant to allow the chocolate to flow more easily when it's being molded (reducing swirls, blemishes, air bubbles, etc.). I'll agree, though, that butter oil and artificial vanilla have no place in a good chocolate.


                                                                                                      1. re: mhoffman

                                                                                                        BTW, I believe there's a Plantations bar that has no added vanilla (real or otherwise), just to keep the flavour of chocolate pure.

                                                                                                        1. re: limster

                                                                                                          Yup. I don't think any of the Plantations dark chocolate bars have vanilla. I have a 65% dark with aji (pepper) bar on my desk, and it doesn't. BTW, I tasted this side-by-side with another, higher cocoa solids chocolate with pepper and I was reminded again just how much I prefer the texture of the Plantations over the much harder, dryer ultra-high cocoa solids bars.

                                                                                                          I'm just a huge fan of the Plantations line -- I think it's great chocolate at any price, and the fact that it's relatively inexpensive AND it's politically correct (Rain Forest Alliance certfied) makes it my first choice in bar chocolate.

                                                                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                            I'm a huge fan of the Plantations line too! :)

                                                                                                      2. Try Cacao... handmade artisanal fine European chocolates, made in the DC area by two French guys (one a chocolatier/pastry chef, one a former executive chef). They supply to Balducci's locally and in NYC, they also do fabulous pastries on the weekends and supply to Dean & Deluca, as well as higher-end restaurants and hotels in DC and NY.

                                                                                                        You can see the variety available and order online at:

                                                                                                        ChocolateByCacao.com. (Don't hold the website design against them -- the quality of the chocolate is amazing.)

                                                                                                        1. This is a great recommendation. I love the ease of choosing which chocolates that go in your box (not always the case with other online order sites). Thank you. Any choices to recommend? They have good variety of options.

                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                          1. re: ChocoHound

                                                                                                            My personal favorites are the two tea-infused ganache fillings -- Earl Grey and Green Tea/Mint. Any caramel filling is outrageously good (made in-house). The free-form/French style truffles with rum or armagnac are also very good. Finally, if you're OK with white chocolate, the macadamia nut one is good -- I'm not a big white chocolate eater, but love this one. Enjoy!

                                                                                                          2. In Manhattan, Evelyn's Hand-dipped Chocolates at 4 John Street. Not fancy presentation, but delicious, especially their milk chocolate "turtles" and almond butter crunch. I also like their chocolate covered pretzels.

                                                                                                            1. o.k.you choc afficianados, does ANYONE know a great artisinal vendor for DARK choc 'turtles'? i've tried garrison in r.i. but they use small pecan pieces in caramel, and it just doesn't DO it for me. needs more pecan flavor. i have actually spent MANY web hours on this search; SOOO frustrating. thanks for any help!

                                                                                                              1. I recently had some truffles from Joseph Schmidt that I really enjoyed.
                                                                                                                The double latte was far better than I expected.

                                                                                                                And for those of you in the UK, you might give Audrey's a try.
                                                                                                                They can be hit-or-miss (violet? as a flavour?), but they're still one of my favorite things in Brighton.

                                                                                                                1. well, i've never had godiva, but i am a fan of lindt, since i can actually afford it.. and the handmade truffles and chocolates made by the old lady down at the local flower shop...i guess i don't love chocolate enough to pay godiva's prices

                                                                                                                  1. Vosges.... One of my favorites. Whoever said they are apprehensive about the "way out" flavors, most of them are not as weird as you'd think. The balsamic just imparts a hint of tang (it's really not strong at all) and the kalamata olive bar is surprisingly non-olivey. Actually, it was really delicious.

                                                                                                                    My new favorite Vosges bar is the Goji berry/pink sea salt combo. I scored a Whole Foods employee who wanted to open up all the boxes for samples and this one was by far the best of their new flavors, and it's become my new favorite. I love the salt chunks in chocolate. It's a bit pricey, but I find that I can buy one bar and make it last well over a week, 2 if i'm good. As another poster said, I prefer to savor it.

                                                                                                                    Here in the Chicago area, I love Piron in Evanston. All Belgian ingredients, cookware, etc. The owner's father decided his kid was going to be a chocolatier and sent him to Belgium for training. Top top top quality in mostly traditional styles. A new discovery of mine is the Chocolate Box in Winnetka. I was going to whatever is next door and decided to stop in. Really interesting combinations and great quality.

                                                                                                                    Moonstruck has some good pieces, but I tend to agree with other posters that I'd rather have local products. However, I love their Tuaca truffle... It inspired me to start making my own.

                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: annimal

                                                                                                                      annimal, ha ha!! wish i had been by your side at the whole foods bonanza!! i've not seen the goji berry (now just what IS that?) or the balsamic here in boston; look forw to trying them.

                                                                                                                      1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                                                                        I know, I was so excited. About a week later i was at a whole foods farmer's market and they had Vosges there sampling out all the new ones plus some hot cocoa. I camped out and made friends there...

                                                                                                                        The goji berry bar is one of their new ones (just introduced a few months ago). Look for the bar with the pink box. Gojis are a little reddish-pink berry from the Himalayan Mts. that supposedly has a ton of antioxidants. We get them here dried like rasins. Don't like them too much on their own, but they're great in the chocolate!! They have a roasted almond/grey sea salt bar too, but i think the salt is stronger in the goji bar.

                                                                                                                        The balsamic I think only comes in the truffles... Unfortunately.

                                                                                                                      2. re: annimal

                                                                                                                        savoring the salted choco-bar for over a week-- reminds me of "Charlie & the Chocholate Factory!"-- LOL i would do the same!

                                                                                                                      3. Vosges is always a good bet. I'm particularly fond of their Ambrosia truffle. White chocolate with hints of orange; and I generally don't care for white chocolate.

                                                                                                                        This may be controversial, but I have found that when it comes to plain dark chocolate truffles, Trader Joe's house brand are outstanding! There's nothing waxy about them. They are pure, intense chocolate. The best part is that a small box from Trader Joe's costs less than two truffles from Vosges.

                                                                                                                        1. Trader Joes is a great source in general for better chocolate on the cheap. I've tried several brands from Trader Joes and just recently picked up a bar of Guaranda single origin chocolate by Chocovic. Incredibly smooth for 71% cocoa chocolate, it has subtle floral notes and pleasant aftertaste. Great stuff to savor for any occassion.

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                                                                                                                          1. re: Professor12

                                                                                                                            At $1.99 a bar at Trader Joe's, Chocovic's single-origins are a steal.


                                                                                                                          2. DEBAUVE & GALLAIS , an incredible Parisian Chocolatier, is now available in the US. I love their chocolates. They started out as a pharmacy dispensing chocolate as a medicine in the 18th century. Their shop is a must visit. Their shop in NY ships all over.


                                                                                                                            JACQUES TORRES in DUMBO has incredibly good hand made artisanal chocolate.

                                                                                                                            LA MAISON DU CHOCOLAT is a chocolate lover's paradise.

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                                                                                                                            1. re: Fleur

                                                                                                                              ooh, fleur, there you go being helpful again!! can't you find me a great DARK chocolate pecan turtle vendor?!!? i'm keepin my fingers crossed for you to come through!

                                                                                                                            2. My two faves have been www.normanloveconfections.com and www.garrisonsonfections.com for gift giving. I love the fact that I can spend 2 minutes online to get all my christmas shopping done, avoid the mall and no one ever wants to return their present because it doesn't fit. I love Norman's smooth textures, straight forward flavors and the visual impact of opening the box. I'm always fascinated by Drew Shott's work because the stuff he sells at Garrison is more complex. He does multi-flavors and multi-textures. They're great for someone who gets tired of everything in the box being the same. I've waded through a box of Godiva and my beef was by the time I bit into a fourth or fifth piece that was hazelnut flavored, I was like "Enough already!" A box of chocolates should be,well, like a box of chocolates. There should be some variety and maybe a bit of "you never know what you're going to get".

                                                                                                                                1. I also second Leonaldo's suggestion of Sahagun and Alma if you're looking for something local in Portland, Oregon as well as John De Paula at www.depaulaconfections.com

                                                                                                                                  1. It's not that Godiva is that bad, just that their marketing is ahead of their product. Plus seems like people buy it as a 'status' gift, because it's pretty and it's more expensive than other brands.

                                                                                                                                    I like certain Vosges flavors - the gatsby truffles, and the redfire and barcelona bars. I didn't like the naga. Honey collection was a bit overhyped.

                                                                                                                                    Also like Leonidas, but only their dark chocolate eve (vanilla cream) and Alexander Le Grand (caramels). My hubbie got me a 1 lb box last year with the assorted flavors and I think those two flavors stands out the best. Those I will go out of my way to get.

                                                                                                                                    Like Sees for the key lime pie. Otherwise most of their truffles tend to be on the sweet side. Chocolate flavor is not very complex. OK in a pinch, but I'll rather have some bittersweet Toblerone.

                                                                                                                                    The oddest thing is the $3 box of Trader Joe's chocolate truffles tasted better than any of the Godiva I tried.

                                                                                                                                    Had Joseph Schimdt and Rocky Mountain chocolate truffles. Didn't care for them.

                                                                                                                                    11 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: notmartha

                                                                                                                                      We got a box of the Trader Joe's truffles recently because everyone seems to love them so much. You're basically eating a mouthful of chocolate frosting. Not that there's anything WRONG with that, but for me, that is not a truffle and not a confection I care to consume very often.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Atomica

                                                                                                                                        Not saying that TJ's truffles are the best ever, but they are better than Godiva for my taste. $3 versus $25?

                                                                                                                                        Even a Lindt bar is than a Godiva any day!

                                                                                                                                        For my $, I will get Leonida's Dark Chocolate Eve.

                                                                                                                                        Almost forgot - there's a Leonida's at Old Town Pasadena.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Atomica

                                                                                                                                          I'm not sure which of the many truffles TJ's sells you're referring to, but it sounds like you're talking about the cocoa-dusted ones in the pouch inside the box that come from France. You may not like them, but the are definitely truffles. It's the things most Americans think of as truffles (with the hard chocolate shells) that aren't true truffles.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                            Yup. It's the cocoa dusted pyramid shaped ones. I guess they are called truffles because they resemble the shape of the truffle mushrooms?

                                                                                                                                            I like the way they melts in my mouth. Chocolate frosting tends to be a little grittier. Although the TJ ones are a little too sweet for my taste, it has better flavor than the Godiva.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: notmartha

                                                                                                                                          I bought some assortment of chocolates from various makers from a local shop, and again, the Leonidas just shown. For example, I bought some "exotic caramels" from Vosges and I thought they were terrible -- the caramel was too hard, so the chocolate just cracked off when I bit into it, and the "exotic" flavors were not readily apparent. In contrast, the Leonidas Alexander Le Grande was maybe the best caramel I've ever had: just the right ratio of chocolate to caramel, and both the chocolate and caramel were perfect in flavor and texture.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                            Good to know about the Vosges caramels. I was contemplating on ordering those next (just got the catalog again last night). Thought they looked more malleable...

                                                                                                                                            I like the Le Grand for the sweet almost liquidy caramel, and the way the chocolate snaps when I bite into it. Unfortunately my supply is out as my son just ate the last one. Time to get more.

                                                                                                                                            For a poor man's chocolate caramels, (don't laugh) but the World's Finest chocolates has a caramel chocolate that is similar, not nowhere as refined. Most non-chowhounds just loves it though, and I can't live by gourmet chocolates all the time.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: yayadave

                                                                                                                                                I also considered the possibility that they might be stale. But while that definitely could have affected the texture, I'm not sure it would have completely removed the flavor.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                  Well, the chocolate was hard enough to shatter and the caramels were hard. Uma thinkin' stale. Cheese and fruit and bread and cookies loose flavor as they age. Why not candy?

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: yayadave

                                                                                                                                                    Their chocolate truffles is best consumed within like 10 days, or they pretty much lose their snap.

                                                                                                                                                    But as the caramel is enrobed completely in chocolate (at least from the pictures), it has to be sitting there for _quite a long time_ for it to be that hard. See's caramel chocolates are a bit on the chewy side, comparing to the almost liquid form for Leonidas, so I am not 100% sure that Vosges aren't after the 'chewier' type of caramels.

                                                                                                                                                    Plus I am pretty sure that I had the Leonida's caramels sitting in the cupboard for months and when I eat them the caramel is nowhere near hard at all.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: notmartha

                                                                                                                                                      The Vosges are definitely a chewier type. But even for a chewy caramel these were hard. I think they were at the very least, starting to go stale. But even taking that into account, I wasn't impressed. At that price point, I expect them to knock my socks off, and I don't think these would have, even at their best.

                                                                                                                                          2. This thread has been going for a while, and I completely forgot to mention Fran's. Probably because I don't live in Seattle anymore. Fran's chocolates are top notch.

                                                                                                                                            1. Finally found the LA Times article on chocolate companies - that should give some additional ideas to try. Didn't realize Recchiuti is at the Ferry Building. Now I've got to check it out.


                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: notmartha

                                                                                                                                                Also note on that page a link to a caramel article.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: yayadave

                                                                                                                                                  I didn't even notice the caramel article. Actually I was searching for another LA Times article - thought there was one that did a taste test on artisan chocolates a while back.

                                                                                                                                              2. I have to agree with the other posters who prefer Lindt over Godiva. I enjoy Lindt's bittersweet chocolate, and their semi-sweet bar chocolate. They have a good amount of chocolate flavor without being too bitter unlike their 70% bar. The 70% would be better for baking, IMO.

                                                                                                                                                Lindt truffles are also good, I choose them over Godiva any day. Lindt white choc with coconut was also enjoyable, but what I really love, is their Milk Chocolate with Cognac bar. I found it at the Garden of Eden store here in NYC. After one bite, I fell in love. I want to try their bar with Bailey's Irish Cream next.

                                                                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: April99

                                                                                                                                                  April, have you had Lindt's Intense Pear dark chocolate bar? It is oh so good!

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: welle

                                                                                                                                                    Welle, I've seen it, but I haven't had the chance to try it. It does look really good. That's another one that's next on my list!

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: welle

                                                                                                                                                      Oh oh. Now I've got to try it too. Where did you see it? Cost Plus?

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: notmartha

                                                                                                                                                        notmartha, I'm on East Coast, and just get it from my local deli or anywhere they sell Lindt bars. This one has fine bits of dried pear with slivers of almond, the chocolate seems to be finer than regular bar and the whole combo has this very refined taste. it just melts in your mouth.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: welle

                                                                                                                                                          Thanks - will check out. No such thing as local deli here (that I don't have to drive to), unfortunately. 8(

                                                                                                                                                  2. Bochner Chocolates http://www.bochnerchocolates.com/

                                                                                                                                                    They are local to me, and so yummy. I usually manage to avoid them except during the December holidays. I've eaten 8 pieces since Saturday though!

                                                                                                                                                    1. Just to make all you chocolate lovers jealous, there's a Leonida's in the lobby of my building (lower Manhattan). I stop in every morning for coffee, and they GIVE for FREE a piece of chocolate with each cup! Your choice, white, milk or dark. I usually try to keep a stash of them at my desk, but their just so good, it's hard to maintain control!

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                                                                                                                                                      1. re: gaiadi

                                                                                                                                                        You're just trying to torture me, right?

                                                                                                                                                      2. They gave out free samples at the Pasadena chocolate shop too, but I was under the impression that they are the less than perfect or sat on the shelf for too long. I passed as I was real picky (milk chocolates - no way!).

                                                                                                                                                        I think I will gain 5 pounds if I have to inhale the scent of the chocolates and all the drinks every day.

                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: notmartha

                                                                                                                                                          i've had the free samples at the pasadena shop and they seemed fresh enough. anyhow they don't even make the chcolate there so it's not like they have to cull out the bad ones. they're all being shipped in from belgium. that said i don't go out of my way to go to leonidas.

                                                                                                                                                        2. Seeing that you are in the DC area:
                                                                                                                                                          Chocolate Chocolate at 1050 Connecticut Ave, NW makes their own truffles which are truly outstanding. They carry the Neuhaus brand as well.

                                                                                                                                                          1. I'll second what a few folks have said about Moonstruck -- they have a great ancho chile truffle that I miss from my college days, but they are a little pricey.

                                                                                                                                                            When I mail order chocolates for myself, I go for Fannie May's (esp. the Trinidads and esp. squared the Mint Meltaways).

                                                                                                                                                            1. richart uses a relatively "rare" bean (at least in high demand now) for high end chocolate and they don't mix it with cheaper beans. it's almost like a wine, varietal vs the single type of grape,

                                                                                                                                                              anyway their chocolates are interesting. and really quite good.

                                                                                                                                                              1. My favorite truffles are the ones I make at home. I make a batch every year for holiday parties, and I like them the best. I use Valrhona 64% cocoa solids chocolate.

                                                                                                                                                                Lindt truffles aren't "true" truffles, but the extra dark ones,definitely take care of my chocolate-craving beast. They're easy to get, and reasonably priced.