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 12 brands definitely stand out.

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Gatsby Chocolate

12. Gatsby Chocolate

  • Value: 16/20
  • Quality: 17/20
  • Aesthetics: 20/20
  • Texture: 18/20
  • Flavor: 18/20
    Total: 89/100
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.

Buy it (Pack of 6 for $30)

Other noteworthy flavors: Classic Milk Chocolate Style

vermont chocolates
Vermont Nut Free Chocolates

11. Vermont Nut Free Chocolates

  • Value: 17/20
  • Quality: 20/20
  • Aesthetics: 19/20
  • Texture: 20/20
  • Flavor: 18/20
    Total: 94/100
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.

Buy it (pack of 12 for $26)

Other noteworthy flavors: Dark Chocolate Sun Blossoms

Raaka

10. Raaka

  • Value: 19/20
  • Quality: 20/20
  • Aesthetics: 19/20
  • Texture: 19/20
  • Flavor: 17/20
    Total: 94/100
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.

Buy it (Pack of 6 for $27)

Other noteworthy flavors: Green Tea Crunch, Maple & Nibs

Seattle Chocolate

9. Seattle Chocolate

  • Value: 18/20
  • Quality: 18/20
  • Aesthetics: 20/20
  • Texture: 20/20
  • Flavor: 19/20
    Total: 95/100
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 it 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.

Buy it ($4.75 each)

Other noteworthy flavors: Neapolitan Truffle Bar, Malted Milk Ball Ice Cream Truffles

chrissy teigen carrot cake chocolate

8. Compartés Chocolatier

  • Value: 20/20
  • Quality: 20/20
  • Aesthetics: 20/20
  • Texture: 18/20
  • Flavor: 18/20
    Total: 96/100
Standout flavor: John Legend Carrot Cake

What's inside: White Chocolate (Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Whole Milk, Soy Lecithin, Vanilla), Carrot Cake (Wheat Flour, Carrots, Eggs, Vegetable Oil, Cane Sugar, Sea Salt, Baking Soda, Cinnamon, Vanilla)

As a big carrot cake fan, I had really high expectations for this bar—and fortunately, it didn't disappoint. Unlike most white chocolate bars that I've had, this wasn't waxy or chalky like milk powder. The texture was very smooth and, surprisingly, the cake pieces were fresh and super soft. I could taste notes of carrot and cinnamon in the cake, which paired nicely with the white chocolate. However, it's definitely on the sweeter side. To avoid getting a sugar overload, you may want to consider rationing smaller pieces instead of munching the entire bar in one sitting.

Buy it ($10)

nib mor 1
Nib Mor

7. Nib Mor

  • Value: 17/20
  • Quality: 20/20
  • Aesthetics: 20/20
  • Texture: 20/20
  • Flavor: 19/20
    Total: 96/100
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 samples 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 I especially liked the toasted cacao nibs, which added a nice crunch, a subtle tart flavor and a touch 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.

Buy it (Pack of 2 for $15)

Other noteworthy flavors: Original Dark Chocolate, Extra Dark Organic Dark Chocolate

hakan review
Håkan Chocolatier

6. Håkan Chocolatier

  • Value: 17/20
  • Quality: 20/20
  • Aesthetics: 20/20
  • Texture: 20/20
  • Flavor: 19/20
    Total: 96/100
Standout flavor: Elaichi Cardamom Dark Chocolate

What's inside: Cocoa Mass, Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Vanilla Bean Seeds, Organic Cardamom

I was immediately intrigued by their tiny chocolate shop during a quick visit to Beacon, NY, and quite frankly, I wanted to buy almost everything in sight. But what really drew me was the quality and eye-catching designs of their bonbons and bars. I tried the Elaichi Cardamom flavor, made with Tanzanian dark chocolate that's infused with Indian cardamom, and it was very smooth and decadent. The texture is velvety, with notes of eucalyptus mint, vanilla and a hint of citrus. As an added bonus, there are only 7 grams of sugar per serving.

Buy it ($8.50)

Other noteworthy flavors: Maillard Salted Caramel Milk Chocolate, Sunrise Ruby Chocolate

Christopher Elbow

5. Christopher Elbow

  • Value: 18/20
  • Quality: 20/20
  • Aesthetics: 20/20
  • Texture: 20/20
  • Flavor: 19/20
    Total: 97/100
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 eating them and taking 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.

Buy it (Box of 6 for $17)

Other noteworthy flavors: Macadamia Praline, Fleur De Sel, Vanilla Bean

Skinny Dipped

4. Skinny Dipped

  • Value: 19/20
  • Quality: 18/20
  • Aesthetics: 20/20
  • Texture: 20/20
  • Flavor: 20/20
    Total: 97/100
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 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.

Buy it (Pack of 4 for $20)

Other noteworthy flavors: Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Bar, Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

gourmet chocolates theo
Theo Chocolate

3. Theo Chocolate

  • Value: 18/20
  • Quality: 19/20
  • Aesthetics: 20/20
  • Texture: 20/20
  • Flavor: 20/20
    Total: 97/100
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.

Buy it (Pack or 12 for $36)

Other noteworthy flavors: Double Chocolate Organic Cookie Bites, Dark Chocolate Salted Almond, Hazelnut Crisp

elements truffles review
Elements Truffles

2. Elements Truffles

  • Value: 20/20
  • Quality: 20/20
  • Aesthetics: 20/20
  • Texture: 20/20
  • Flavor: 18/20
    Total: 98/100
Standout Flavor: Raspberry with Beetroot

What's inside: Organic Raw Cacao Butter, Raw Honey, Organic Raw Cacao Powder, Raspberry Essential Oil, Organic Beetroot Powder, Organic Freeze Dried Raspberry, Himalayan Sea Salt

Health-conscious chocolate lovers, meet your new favorite brand. Like all of their products, this Ayurveda-inspired truffle bar is 100 percent organic, non-GMO, dairy free and gluten free. Plus, it contains beetroot (a vegetable filled with nutrients and minerals that boost the immune system). Since I'm not a big fan of raspberries, I expected this to be my least favorite flavor, but I was pleasantly surprised by the bar's richness. This chocolate is satiny smooth and instantly melts on the tongue. It also has subtle notes of raspberry and just the right amount of sweetness (5 grams per serving, 2 servings per bar).

Buy it ($7.00)

Other noteworthy flavors: Orange Quinoa with Turmeric, Peppermint with Lavender, Sea Salt with Turmeric

Honey Mama's

1. Honey Mama's

  • Value: 18/20
  • Quality: 20/20
  • Aesthetics: 20/20
  • Texture: 20/20
  • Flavor: 20/20
    Total: 98/100
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.

But it (Pack of 4 for $28)

Other noteworthy flavors: Coconut, Tahini Tangerine, Coffee Nib Crunch, Original Dutch

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.

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