Whether your taste runs to bitter dark, creamy milk or luscious white, New England’s family-owned craft chocolate factories are a golden ticket to scrumptiousness. Here are 10 makers with confections you won’t be able to resist.
Goodnow Farms – Sudbury, Massachusetts
This award-winning chocolatier in Central Massachusetts creates an incredible range of slender, elegant, single-origin chocolate bars. Each captures the antioxidant, stimulating properties of this much sugar-abused bean and has a high cocoa solids count: milk chocolate runs at about 64%, while dark goes from 73% to a whopping 100%. Each displays individual, regional flavor – terroir, if you will – of the cacao’s origin!
Goodnow Farms also partners with local producers, such as whiskey or maple syrup makers, to create delicately flavored variations that don’t deter the tongue from the characteristics of the cacao. Goodnow also has single-origin cacao powder, cacao nibs and cacao tea – made from nibs not shells, thus avoiding high tannins and also creating superior chocolatey wine-y flavor.
L.A. Burdick Handmade Chocolates – Walpole, New Hampshire
This picturesque southwestern New Hampshire town surrounded by farmland is where the first L.A. Burdick cafe and shop was set up. It’s not far from the small factory where, as the name suggests, L.A. Burdick handmade chocolates are made from scratch, with each bonbon painstakingly hand-finished.
No artificial flavors or preservatives are ever used. Rather, seasonal ingredients are sourced to create selection boxes, just as their signature chocolate mice filled with rich ganache are joined by penguins or bunnies, depending on the time of year.
Still, Burdick’s core product is the deliberately small bonbon, created in a size to show off both cacao and flavoring. Truffles, caramels and chocolate bars round out the irresistible selection.
Chequessett Chocolate – Truro, Massachusetts
This small batch chocolate maker located on the Outer Cape, that is, the northern top of Cape Cod, favors organic ingredients and sustainably grown direct trade cacao beans. Most interestingly, along with bitter, high cacao solid count dark and milk chocolate, oft-neglected white chocolate is also made using fresh cocoa butter.
Many of the handcrafted recipes at Chequessett are named for southeastern Massachusetts touchstones: the 52% milk chocolate Sconset Brown Butter Sage references a beautiful Nantucket beach; Wellfleet Sea Salt is 70% cacao and name-checks the idyllic harbor town on Cape Cod Bay; while Feast of the First Light honors the native Wampanoag, the People of the First Light, and wraps cranberries, roasted corn and bourbon pecans in that award-winning white chocolate.
Adam T. Young Confections – Mystic, Connecticut
Food Network’s “Best Baker in America” winner Adam Young also creates a line of exquisite bonbons at his extremely popular Sift Bake Shop in pretty downtown Mystic. Like L.A. Burdick bonbons, these are also a precise small size, which gives a better mouth experience and flavor release – trust us, it’s technical, but true.
Young’s flavorful, colorful creations include a dark chocolate-covered hazelnut latte or sesame yuzu ganache; milk chocolate enveloping a lemon and lavender white chocolate ganache; and a gorgeous cocoa-dusted dark chocolate cognac truffle. Young tips his nearby Young Buns Doughnut shop with a white chocolate Young Buns bonbon infused with doughnut and streusel!
Lake Champlain Chocolates – Burlington, Vermont
This multi-generational family business in northern Vermont sources non-GMO, fair trade certified and organically grown ingredients to create delectably flavored and filled bars, truffles and chocolate-covered sea salt caramels.
Many ingredients used at Lake Champlain come from local farmers, including Vermont’s famous maple syrup, which fills a 57% dark chocolate bar. There are also the signature chunky gold-wrapped Five Star Bars in several addictive flavorings: from honey caramel with almonds to cherry and pecan praline.
Enjoy all that and more in the Wonka-esque, chocolate sculpture-filled flagship store in Burlington.
Laughing Gull Chocolates – Warren, Rhode Island
This chocolate maker is based in a community-focused culinary incubator, Hope & Main, surrounded by other craft food producers and farmer’s stands. Along with a range of slender chocolate bars, Laughing Gull creates truffles (including seasonal varieties), hot chocolate and chocolate sauce, each made with ethically and locally sourced ingredients. Laughing Gull also has a dedicated vegan range, including coconut and oat milk bars.
One delightful item to sample is the crisp, thin chocolate bark, flavored with sea salt and peanuts or with sesame seeds and matcha tea. Laughing Gull also holds virtual tastings and in-person workshops for would-be chocolatiers.
BOHO Chocolate – Florence, Massachusetts
This bean-to-bar maker in northwestern Massachusetts is gaining awards at chocolate shows and, perhaps more important for the health of the planet, is awarded organic certification by the USDA. Why is organic important? Well, cacao is filled with wonderful natural oils and toxic elements in pesticides migrate into those otherwise healthy oils.
There’s also the yummy part to BOHO Chocolate. Enjoy such beautiful flavors as the white chocolate lemon olive oil bar, which uses lemon-infused olive oil from an Italian farm; or the sweet-savory 51% milk chocolate potato chip bar embedded with chunky salty non-GMO potato chips; or a 70% dark chocolate spiced with cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, anise, cayenne and black pepper. Who said consciously- and conscientiously-made chocolate can’t be fun?
Enna Chocolate – Exeter, New Hampshire
This self-trained bean-to-bar chocolate maker creates small batch single-origin dark chocolate bars, as well as specialty bars combining nuts, seeds, dried fruits and spices in often seasonally-inspired recipes. The cacao is ethically sourced from small batch producers and organically produced, where possible.
This densely flavored chocolate is created in quaint Exeter, where Enna’s cafe also offers a menu of drinking chocolate, classic espresso drinks and chocolate, of course! The s’mores kits are incredibly popular and regularly sell out – stock up while you can!
Tavernier Chocolates – Brattleboro, Vermont
This truly novel and innovative chocolate maker combines traditional European confectionery techniques with locally grown or foraged fruits, herbs, mushrooms and vegetables – it is Vermont, after all. Vermonters love to do Vermont. For the couverture, Tavernier Chocolates searches worldwide for ethically sourced single-origin cacao, along with spices and natural flavorings, such as Madagascan vanilla.
In addition to bars, tablets and bonbons, Tavernier Chocolates has a reputation for highlighting cacao’s savory elements, creating such unusual edibles as Mont Vert, a pâté-style ganache blended with Vermont chèvre, raw honey and organically grown lavender.
Wilbur’s of Maine – Brunswick and Freeport, Maine
For a more traditional confectionary, Wilbur’s of Maine is a popular stop for families. Chocolates and candies line colorful storefronts in Brunswick and Freeport, where Wilbur’s still makes many of its chocolates by hand. It’s fun to watch what you’re about to enjoy tasting being made. Add kudos for choosing local Maine ingredients to make such idiosyncratic delights as blueberry creams.
For a sweet taste of Maine, try the 16 Counties Assortment box, which references Maine’s regions. Not into chocolates? There’s always the “Gummi Lobstahs!”