The Best Gourmet Chocolates, According to Our Taste Test
If there's one snack I can count on to make my taste buds happy, it's chocolate. Nothing beats a flavorful bar with a satisfying crunch or a piece of sweet truffle that melts in my mouth. But not all chocolates are created equal. There’s the mainstream candy bar, which is all the rage during Halloween season, and then there’s gourmet chocolate, the decadent treat that can take your palate to a whole new level.
Given my obsession with artisanal chocolates, I decided to taste test the best of the best, from ice cream-inspired bonbons to cocoa truffle bars. But before I get into each review, here’s a breakdown of how I rated them:
- Value (Is it worth the price?)
- Quality (Is the chocolate rich? Does it melt on the tongue, or does it taste like wax?)
- Aesthetics (The cuter the packaging, the better.)
- Texture (Grainy, chalky textures are a big no-no.)
- Flavor (Is there depth of flavor? Does it taste authentic or artificial?)
I’ve sampled my fair share of chocolates over the years, but the following nine brands definitely stand out.
9. Gatsby Chocolate
Standout flavor: Almond Dark Chocolate Style
What’s inside: Esterified propoxylated glycerol (moderated plant-based oil), cocoa powder, allulose, almonds, cocoa butter, sugar, medium chain triglycerides (MCT), sunflower lecithin, vanilla flavor
If you love the taste of traditional chocolate bars but want to avoid the extra calories, fat and sugar, allow me to introduce you to Gatsby chocolate. Founded by Halo Top ice cream cofounder Doug Bouton, the new brand has launched with two flavors: Dark Chocolate Almond and Classic Milk Chocolate. I was immediately drawn to the Dark Chocolate Almond, but after a taste test, it definitely tasted low-cal. While the dark chocolate isn't very rich and I detected a slightly powdery texture, it still has a pleasant taste, a little crunch and the right amount of sweetness.
Other noteworthy flavors: Classic Milk Chocolate Style
8. Vermont Nut Free Chocolates
Standout flavor: Milk Chocolate Sun Blossoms
What’s inside: Milk chocolate, sunflower butter (roasted sunflower seeds, dehydrated cane syrup, salt), powdered sugar, cocoa butter, salt, vanilla extract
Considering how much I hate Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (I'm sorry, but gritty peanut butter coated in sugary chocolate doesn't cut it for me), I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed these sun blossoms. I would've never thought to pair sunflower butter with chocolate, but it actually works. The butter is quite tasty and creamy, and though the chocolate is a bit on the sweet side, it's rich and smooth. Each one is about the size of a regular Reese's cup and there are roughly 8 grams of sugar in each. Anyone with a peanut allergy will appreciate these, since they're 100 percent nut free.
Other noteworthy flavors: Dark Chocolate Sun Blossoms
Standout flavor: Coconut Milk
What’s inside: Organic cacao beans, organic cane sugar, organic coconut, organic cacao butter
I bit into this vegan bar expecting a tropical, coconutty flavor and was surprised to taste strong notes of berry. It’s much fruitier than I anticipated and the coconut flavor is very subtle, but I absolutely love the quality and silky smooth texture of this chocolate. It’s only slightly bitter (made with 60 percent cacao), so lovers of sweeter bars might not enjoy it. But if you like good-quality dark chocolate with complex notes, you seriously need to try this.
6. Seattle Chocolate
Standout flavor: Vanilla Orange Cream Truffle Bar
What’s inside: White chocolate, non-hydrogenated coconut oil, orange extract, orange oil, sea salt, citric acid
It’s like a creamsicle in the form of a chocolate bar, and I could not be more obsessed. I don’t even have to chew on the bar because it melts like velvet in my mouth (tip: it’s better to keep these bars at room temperature so they’re not cold and solid). The sugar content is rather high (21 grams of sugar per serving, two servings per bar), but it still delivers in terms of quality. The vanilla and orange flavors don’t taste artificial, which elevates it above your average, mainstream bar.
5. Nib Mor
Standout flavor: Sea Salt
What’s inside: Organic chocolate liquor, organic cane sugar, organic cocoa butter, organic cacao nibs, sea salt, organic lecithin (soy), organic vanilla extract
Of all the chocolates that I tasted, this was the most complex. I really enjoyed the smoothness of the dark chocolate and the sprinkle of sea salt to offset the bitterness, but the toasted cacao nibs added a nice crunch, along with a subtle tart flavor and a bit of nuttiness. Each little square, which can be finished in about two to three bites, has 42 calories and less than 3 grams of sugar (3 pieces make one serving and there are 4 servings per bag), so if you're watching your sugar intake, Nib Mor is a solid choice.
4. Christopher Elbow
Standout flavor: Pistachio Cherry Bonbon
What’s inside: White Chocolate, dark Chocolate, ground pistachio, cream, butter, morello cherry puree, amarena cherries, sugar, glucose syrup, apple pectin
These Instagram-worthy confections looked so good that I was torn between trying them out and taking tons of selfies with them. But I had to find out: Do they taste as phenomenal as they look? I sampled a few popular flavors from their 36-Piece Signature Chocolate collection, as well as their limited-edition flavor, Pistachio Cherry. I immediately fell in love with the latter, which was inspired by the classic Italian dessert, spumoni ice cream. The bonbons are made with pistachio-infused white chocolate ganache (a mixture of chocolate and cream) and sweet Italian cherries, which are coated in a white chocolate shell. While I tend to steer clear of chocolates paired with fruit, I was really impressed by the quality and flavor of this bonbon. The pistachio ganache is wonderfully creamy, but the only downside is that the candied cherries are a bit sweet for my taste.
Other noteworthy flavors: Macadamia Praline, Fleur De Sel, Vanilla Bean
3. Skinny Dipped
Standout flavor: Almond Sea Salt
What’s inside: Unsweetened chocolate, almonds, cane sugar, allulose, cocoa butter, sea salt, sunflower lecithin, vanilla
As someone who’s obsessed with crunchy, nutty chocolates, one of the biggest factors for me is the chocolate-to-nut ratio. I mean, no one wants to finish an entire almond chocolate bar that has little to no crunch in each bite. Fortunately, that’s not the case with this tasty dark chocolate bar. It’s loaded with almond pieces, so you’re guaranteed to get a whole lot of crunch. Plus, there’s a nice balance of sweetness and saltiness. There are only three grams of sugar in each serving (one bar has 2.5 servings, so each bar has less than 8 grams total) and no artificial sweeteners, so this is the kind of bar you can finish in one sitting without feeling too guilty.
2. Theo Chocolate
Standout flavor: Bread & Chocolate Organic Dark Chocolate Bar
What’s inside: Cocoa beans, cane sugar, toasted bread, butter, cocoa butter, sea salt
If you love bread as much as you love chocolate, allow me to introduce you to your newest obsession. This organic bar, which is made with 70 percent dark chocolate, has the smoothest texture and it’s filled with buttery, toasted breadcrumbs for a satisfying crunch. As an added bonus, the chocolate isn’t too bitter or sweet (with 15 grams of sugar in each bar), and the hint of sea salt really adds to the depth of flavor in this unique pairing.
1. Honey Mama's
Standout flavor: Cherry Hazelnut
What’s inside: Organic raw honey, organic hazelnuts, organic unrefined coconut oil, organic cocoa powder, organic Bing cherries, flake salt, vanilla extract, almond extract
As mentioned above, I’m not the biggest fan of fruit and chocolate combos (I find that most fruity chocolates are either way too tangy or overwhelmingly sweet), but this truffle bar just might have changed my mind. The Bing cherries aren’t too sugary or overpowering, but add the right amount of fruitiness and pair nicely with the crunchy hazelnuts. The quality of the cocoa bar itself is quite rich and it feels creamy as it melts on the tongue. I could immediately taste the cherry and notes of honey, but I especially love the flakes of salt to balance out the bar’s sweetness (it has 8 grams of sugar in one serving and each bar has three servings). FYI, this is a limited-edition flavor, so it’ll only be available for a limited time.
The PureWow100 is a scale our editors use to vet new products and services, so you know what's worth the spend—and what's total hype. Learn more about our process here.