Valentine’s Day is nearly here, and although you probably shouldn’t care as much about this particular love-themed holiday as much as the greeting card industrial complex might prefer you to, we can all agree that February 14 at least provides a small excuse to buy something enjoyable for that significant other or, heck, maybe even yourself (practice self-care, etc.)!
And that’s where the old standby comes in: CHOCOLATE, a simple and relatively inexpensive gift that suits the occasion, whether you’re doting on a longtime beau or sobbing alone under a fleece blanket watching the most recent episode of This of Us.
There are of course many great chocolate shops in Los Angeles: the Wonka-esque Compartes Chocolates in Century City; Valerie Confections and its elegantly-packaged treats; Culver City’s ChocoVivo, which trades in immaculately-sourced cacao beans; or even that local free-sample classic See’s Candies. But if you’re interested in gifting that “special friend your mom keeps asking about” something from the city’s more specialized craft chocolate producers, our blossoming bean-to-bar chocolate scene has plenty to offer (you can read more about L.A.’s bean-to-bar movement in this feature from our Dec. 2016 issue).
We asked Megan Giller, author of the fantastic, recently released book Bean to Bar Chocolate: America’s Craft Chocolate Revolution to share some of her favorite chocolate bars around Los Angeles. Most of these bars retails for around $10 each, and you can find them at numerous retail shops across the city (visit the “Store Locator” tab on each website to view locations). If there’s a better occasion to splurge on some nice single-origin bars, learn about the chocolate-making craft, and also knock out a name on that pesky V-Day gift list, we’ve yet to think of it.
Where: Manhattan Beach
Year Founded: 2010
Founder: Nicole Trutanich
Megan’s Pick: “I love Bar Au Chocolat’s 70 percent single-origin Madagascar bar. Cocoa beans from Madagascar are especially fruity and bright, and it’s a surprise to taste those flavors in chocolate. Maker Nicole Trutanich expertly balances those notes for a distinctive two-ingredient bar. (It’s also worth getting her roasted cocoa nibs from Madagascar, since high-quality nibs are hard to find. I use them in everything, from brownies to smoothies.”
Year Founded: 2014
Founder: David and Corey Menkes
Megan’s Pick: “LetterPress Chocolates’ 70 percent single-origin Amazonas, Venezuela, bar blows me away every time. Venezuela is known for its nutty, delicate cocoa, but sadly, not that many American bean-to-bar makers are using it. This bar is a chocolate lover’s dream.”
Year Founded: 2013
Founder: Ryan and Cassi Berk
Megan’s Pick: “I can’t get enough of Parliament Chocolate’s single-origin Bolivia bar, made from cocoa that grows wild in the Alto Beni area. Its umami, savory notes mix with dried fruit flavors to create a truly special experience.”
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