I don’t mind admitting it was DePaula’s packaging that first attracted my attention. How many times do you see chocolates in a luxurious, embossed, handmade box, after all? But John DePaula understands that charming packaging is not enough for chocolate lovers; one’s products must deliver good flavors, eye appeal and freshness, and his fit the bill nicely. What to try first? The Pomegranate, with its dark chocolate ganache-honey-pomegranate molasses center in a white chocolate exterior, is as unique as it is beautiful. I’m partial to the Raspberry Fleur-de-Lis, too, another dark chocolate ganache piece (flavored with raspberry eau-de-vie) enrobed in more dark chocolate. And by all means try the Caramel Fleur de Sel…but I could go on and on. Note that most assortments, but not all, feature the handmade paper box. DePaulaConfections.com
Steve DeVries doesn’t make chocolates. Rather, he makes chocolate—bean-to-bar, on antique equipment, no less. He has done years of research and experimenting to get to the point where he is today, offering just a few types of bars from what he feels are the very best cacao beans available. DeVries bars are small and unadorned; they contain only cacao beans and sugar (no vanilla or lecithin; Mr. DeVries feels these ingredients detract from the true nature of the beans). This chocolate is not for everyone; it is definitely bittersweet, with a powerful “red fruit” astringent note. But if you are a fan of “big” red wines, head over to the website and choose from among Costa Rican (in two varieties) or Dominican bean-based bars—and by the way, all of the beans used here are organic. If you think there’s nothing new in the chocolate universe, try these bars. DeVriesChocolate.com
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