So you’ve had Hersheys, Lindt, Ghirardelli. And while you know there’s more out there in chocolate, but dang, those $10-$14 bars? Where do you even start? What’s a beginner chocolate?
If you’re in Seattle, you go to the NW Chocolate Festival and taste everything. Since the Festival’s over (and/or you’re not in Seattle), have some chocolate brands to sink your teeth into. These are all brands that I regularly eat and/or make friends eat. Because I care.
I’m listing these bars in order of price, because that’s probably how you’re going to start buying. I do think the more expensive bars are worth trying eventually, but I also completely understand that a $10 bar can be scary for a budget. You go at your own pace.
Price per bar: $4-$6
Where to get in Seattle: Pretty much every grocery store in town, Theo retail shop
Why this brand: It’s cheap (I regularly find it on sale for $2/bar), it’s consistent, and they have a lot of inclusion bars and a decent range of percentages. And the factory store has tons of samples and is always trying something new. (Last time I was in the store they were testing out root beer chocolate.)
Bars to try: Sea salt 70%, Pure 70%, Pure 45% if you’re feeling nervous about dark chocolate.
Price per bar: $8.50-$11; $44-$60/pound (bulk feves)
Where to get in Seattle: Chocolopolis, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods (bulk section)
Why this brand: Super consistent chocolate. (It’s what I personally use for baking.) And since Whole Foods carries it in bulk, you can sometimes get an excellent chocolate in small quantities. TJ’s used to carry mini bars, but that doesn’t look like it’s still the case.
Bars to try: The 64% Manjari is a good solid baking chocolate. However, Whole Foods’ bulk price is way jacked up. (It’s like $15-$20/pound if you buy online through Chocosphere.)
We’ve banned the Caramelia (caramel, 34%) in our house because it gets eaten too quickly. It’s really good if you like shortbread notes, but buy at your own discretion.
Yes, I’m only posting one bar here. You know why? Because I already ate the rest of my stash.
Price per bar: $8-$15.99
Why this brand: This is a solid brand with a wide range of flavors and percentages, and loves to get experimental. (This is a brand that sells Coated Jalapeño Dusted Corn Nuts. Even I don’t know what to make of these.) And if you just need a really good bar of chocolate, their Hispañola 68% won the Chocolopolis Sweet 16 competition.
Also: Toasted white chocolate. This is a thing they sell, and it is glorious. (And one of the few white chocolate bars I regularly eat.)
Bars to try: Toasted white chocolate, browned butter milk chocolate, Hispaniola 68%
Price per bar: $13-$16
Why this brand: Probably the smoothest bean to bar chocolate you can currently get your hands on. It’s what your brain thinks Hershey’s should be like.
This is the brand I get when I want snacking chocolate. Sure, I try to savor it, but by the time I realize what I’m doing half the bar is gone.
Bars to try: PBJ OMG, browned butter (very rare – pick it up if available for sure)