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The Chocolate Hunt is on!

You would not believe the things my editor asks me to do.  No, seriously.  We’re having a nice peaceful dinner, and all the sudden she asks me if I can do a guide to my favorite U.S.-based chocolatiers for CHOCOLATE 3 (title a tiny bit in the air still; coming summer 2013).

Does that sound like a job for me?  Do I look like the kind of person who would enjoy researching all the top chocolatiers in the U.S.?

Do I look as if I’ll hold up under the strain?

Ha, ha, ha, I crack myself up.

The only problem–and I know this is going to surprise some of you–is I haven’t actually tried every single top chocolatier in the U.S. yet.

I need some HELP.

This means YOU.

Job 1:  Go out and try all the good artisan chocolatiers in your area or while you’re traveling.  Don’t tell me you can’t do it.  This is for RESEARCH.  Remember those days as a broke student when you did every research program at your university that paid ten bucks or offered pizza?  This is WAY BETTER THAN THAT.

GO TRY THEM.  Go farther afield.  Step off the beaten path when you’re away for a weekend.  TRY SOME MORE CHOCOLATE THERE.  (Yes, that is how I travel.)

Job 2:  When you feel you’ve found a good one–a GREAT one–WRITE TO ME.

Tell me where, tell me what, tell me why.  Feel free to send photos.  (Honestly, feel free to send samples, te he he…)

I will enter ANYONE who sends a genuine artisan chocolatier recommendation into a drawing for a signed advanced copy of THE CHOCOLATE KISS.*   Yes, if you keep diligently researching and  end up with more than one suggestion, you can be entered more than one time.  (DON’T YOU STINT ON THAT RESEARCH.)

And if your arguments convince me to try this chocolatier and I AGREE with you, and I pick one of your recommendations to go into the back of CHOCOLATE 3, I’ll send you TWO signed advanced copies of CHOCOLATE 3, when it’s available, one for you, and one for the chocolatier.**  Who might even give you some chocolate to say thanks! :)  (No, seriously, s/he really might.)

I am open to many kinds of chocolate persuasion, but a few things that get me all hungry and eager to try:

1) Ganache.  Dark chocolate ganache, subtly infused with flavors.

2)  A range of flavors from the classic (vanilla) to the unusual (tomato-basil anyone?).

3)  Hand-painted chocolates.  OK, it’s not required.  Many top chocolatiers do not hand paint.  But those hand-painted chocolates are so pretty!

4)  French training can be a good sign.  But there are people who become great without it, self-trained, so just let me know their story.  Speaking of which…

5)  A great story.  I love the stories of how people ended up where they are, making chocolate.

6)  Did I mention ganache?

Some examples of U.S.-based chocolatiers I love:

A lovely selection of chocolates that have fallen sad victims to my inability to take a good photograph.  Christophe Artisan Chocolatier, a third-generation French chocolatier in Charleston SC.

A close-up of some hand-painted chocolates from CaliBressan, in Santa Barbara, CA.

Miel Bonbons, Carrboro, NC.

Just an example of some beautiful chocolates!

If you think you know of an artisan chocolatier who deserves to be in a book, let me know!  And you never know, I might come by for research and do a signing in your area while I’m at it.

Please forward this call as WIDELY as you can!  I want the greatest possible input!

*THE CHOCOLATE KISS advanced copies should be available in early December.

**If multiple people nominate the same chocolatier, I will draw a name for the BOOK 3 copies.  CHOCOLATE BOOK 3 is due out Summer 2013, and advanced copies are usually available 3-4 weeks before release date.

12 Comments to The Chocolate Hunt is on!

  1. Dear Laura – While it is not a “chocolatier”, Woodblock Chocolate makes artisan bean-to-bar chocolate that will knock your chocolate-loving socks off. This artisan chocolate “manufactory” in Portland, Oregon – a foody town that presents its edibles with such pride it might as well be French! – buys small amounts of very special cocoa beans from small farms which they go and check out, in Trinidad or Equador or Madagascar, etc, and they roast, winnow, conch, age, temper, mold and wrap these amazing little bars by hand at their little factory in Portland! They offer it retail through a few stores on the east and west coasts. I put their web site above (it is not my website – it’s theirs), but if you want to see what people are saying about them, google woodblock and chocolate. These people treat cocoa beans like grapes for the finest wine, and this is reflected in the different distinctive flavors in their bars, which are identified by batch. There is nothing in the bars but cocoa, cane sugar and, in some bars, sel de mer. What an intensely satisfying chocolate experience for the serious dark chocolate lover! Nec plus ultra! Cheers! Susan Pettibone – a fellow chocolate lover in Millerton, NY

  2. I know you specified the US, but if you ever find yourself on Vancouver Island, come to Victoria! We have the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, Roger’s Chocolates and a few others but the one you REALLY want is ‘Chocolat’ on Fort Street. If your tastes run to truffles, Victoria is also the home of ‘Terrible Truffles’. If you can’t make it this far west but find yourself in Ontario, put ‘Puffin Truffles’ on your list instead!!


    P.S. One of my favourite baking recipes is a bittersweet chocolate truffle cheesecake – if you finish it off right with piped chocolate leaves and a hand-formed chocolate rose in the centre you’ll need about a pound of chocolate – good bittersweet chocolate, but not $100/lb!!

  3. Maybe I should make it the best chocolatiers in North America. :) These sound delicious. I’m looking at Chocolat’s website now…mmm. And I love the name Terrible Truffles.

    I wish I could find some of the Woodblock Chocolate here. Their few locations are taunting me.

    You know what this means…an excuse for me to try some more chocolates to see which ones I love the most. :) Thanks so much for the recommendations!

  4. Joopdeloop

    Is it cheating to nominate more than one? It’s hard to narrow down, b/c I live in the SF Bay Area, so good eats are everywhere. Here they are in order of big to micro-miniscule:

    1) A couple blocks from my office : Recchiuti: available through mail order but better yet come to San Francisco and while you’re at it enjoy all the other yummy things the city has to offer. Recchiuti is located in the Ferry Building, home to a Acme Bread and CowGirl Creamery and Miette, Ciao Bella gelato and Slanted Door, and during the summer, the farmer’s Market on Tues and Thu… oh that’s right we’re talking chocolate. Sorry. You can also drool at their website And he has this gorgeous cookbook “Chocolate Obsession” – when I took a truffle making workshop, my teacher improvised off this book.

    So I should do more research for you, but the ones I have sampled and loved: Rose Caramel, Burnt Caramel. Fleur de Sel Caramel, Lavender Vanilla, Tarragon Grapefruit, Ginger Heart. I think I want to try the Star Anise and Pink Pepper corn. I have always been curious about the key lime pears and the smores kits, but I generally focus in on the truffles instead. I also know his chocolate sauces are very worthy.

    2) Down the street: Xocolate Bar – try the Tamarind and Mango Buddhas , the Saigon Cinnamon , Cardomom and the Lemon Ginger. (After browising their website, I want to go back to try Lavender Walnut and Pomegranate and Aztec Spice.) They make a wicked hot chocolate too. Xocolate Bar is a funky, gorgeous intimate boutique .

    3) Anand Confections – I don’t know if I can name a chocolate maker is is only available in limited quantities via email to a selected list. Here’s how I found out: at our elementary school fundraiser I snagged a chocolate making class with Anand Chokkalingam (who in his spare time is a bio med professor). It was a great morning intro the science of chocolate, and we got to make a ganache and caramel, as well as enrobe and press on those fun painted designs. Best of all we took home boxes of the two flavors we made: Darjeeling (infused into a dark chocolate ganache, enrobed in a medium dark chocolate) plus the Saffron Cardomom ( this was my favorite – infused into a white chocolate ganache. I’m not usually a white chocolate kind of person, but this was pretty gorgeous stuff)

    So I discovered your book via Dear Author, and really enjoyed both the Chocolate Thief and Blame it On Paris enormously – I love how you observe food and family. Even if you don’t wind up picking one of my chocolatiers, maybe I can coax you into trading a copy of Chocolate III for homemade truffles? After taking my class, I decided to make truffles for our holiday gift. My tempering skills need work but I think I hit on some good combinations: the sampler contained: Juniper truffles (dark chocolate ganache infused with gin, surrounding a juniper berry, rolled in cocoa), Tamarind (milk chocolate ganache with tamarind, topped by a salty tamarind caramel, enrobed in chocolate and dusted with gold– sweet salty with a hint of sour), Pomengranate (white chocolate ganache with Pomegranate syrup surrounding a fresh pomegranate aril), and Red Bean and Sesame (Chinese dessert reimagined, with a white chocolate and adzuki bean ganache rolled in black sesame drink powder and whole black sesame seeds. Somehow fatty-crunch of the sesame seeds call to mind bacon for me, which I think is a perfect complement to chocolate – have you had Mo’s Bacon Bar?) I used Guittard and local maker Tcho. I confess to stealing a lot of inspiration and spending too much time gawking at this website: Bonbini, She’s a Thai accountant turned baker who specializes in macarons (one of these days I want to take her workshop).

    In any event, I hope I paid back some of my enjoyment of your books with good chocolate leads and links. Merci buckets

  5. I just got back from picking up an Enormous Quantity of chocolates for tomorrow’s book signing/chocolate tasting, thanks to the wonderful Bonnie Lau of Miel Bonbons, and I am STILL salivating over this list. You would think I would be surfeited but no. Not me. I can’t wait to try them. Thank you, Joopdeloop! And yes, you can nominate more than one. That just gives you more chances. :)

    And I would definitely trade a copy of Chocolate III for some truffles. I can almost always be bought for chocolate. An advanced copy even! Is that bribe enough? I don’t get the advanced copies of that one until probably May, though, which seems a long time to wait for truffles. How about an advanced copy of CHOCOLATE KISS, if you don’t win the drawing for that one? Those should be in around November. :)

  6. Teresa

    I hear she is leaving Durham for Tennessee, though. Her Sea Turtles were to die for…


  7. That’s what I’ve heard, too, Teresa! I know she stopped making chocolate back before Valentine’s Day, even. She’s sorely missed at the market. Did you hear anything about her making chocolate again in Tennessee? I had heard she might be doing something else instead (school, maybe?).

  8. You are officially my new best friend! I LOVE this idea. Sadly, I don’t know any artisans, but I just heard about this site and want to check it out further;

    They actually make pictures into chocolate bars. Thought it would be a great idea for the cover of my book.

  9. Chanpreet

    In Atlanta, we have DiAmano Chocolates. They initially were with Schakolad Chocolates, and once the contract was finished went independent.

    Their master chocolatier is amazing. She’s not been trained formally trained, but instead is blessed with a natural gift. The last I was in, she had some infused caramels that felt like a party in my mouth. They were fantastic. She also had an award wining banana fosters confection that is to die for.

  10. Mmm, they do look good, Chanpreet. I’m often in the Atlanta area, so I hope I get a chance to try them soon! Thanks for the recommend.

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