The box of chocolates may seem like the obvious choice for your sweetie, regardless of the occasion, but there’s more to it than running to the nearest pharmacy and reaching for the closest heart-shaped box you can find. Metro Detroit has plenty of options for the sweet tooth in your life, from candy shops, bakeries, and cookies. If chocolate is just what you’re after, there are a few things you should keep in mind when making your selections. Not every bonbon, truffle, or chocolate bar are alike so it’s important to understand the nuances before you shop so you can make a more informed decision. Here are some tips on what to keep an eye out for and where you can find these tasty bites around metro Detroit.
Truffles are made from a melted chocolate and cream mixture called ganache. The cream is often infused with flavors like nuts, coffee, vanilla, liquor, or fruit purées. If richness is your goal, truffles are for you. Bonbons are flavored chocolates that have been molded and usually dipped. Typically, bonbon fillings are coated completely in pure chocolate so as to preserve them, and can include ganache, caramel, nougat, praline, maybe a cherry — all packed into just a couple of bits.
As for chocolate bars, a lot has changed in this category since the days of Hershey and Dove. The phrase bean-to-bar offers a clue that the chocolate-maker has been involved at every stage of its production — from the purchase of whole cacao beans, to the creation of the finished product. Look for labels like single-origin, which indicates that the beans have come from a single country (as opposed to being blended with beans from multiple countries). When you select a single-origin bar, it gives you the opportunity to pick up on the distinct flavor profiles that are representative of each cocoa-growing region, ranging from bitter, earthy, spicy, and even citrusy. Keep in mind, when you see a brand that boasts the percentage of cacao on a chocolate bar, that’s an indicator of how much of it is made with actual cocoa beans and how much of it involves other ingredients. While this can be a sign of higher quality, it’s also more likely that these high-percentage cacao bars will impart a bitter flavor.
Here are some of the go-to places in metro Detroit to score chocolate, whether you’re in need of bonbons for your boo or are in search of the perfect bar of chocolate when entertaining friends.
As the name suggests, this Detroit company specializes in the delicate art of bonbons. A rotating menu of unique bonbons ensures that customers will keep coming back for more. Encased in an open gift box-shaped shell, there’s no hiding the colorfully delicious ingredients that fill each one. The individual bon is a piece of art, with flavors like Bumpy Cake and bourbon dark chocolate.
The creme-filled bonbons are a favorite, combining the crunch of the milk chocolate shell with the smoothness of the center filling. The shop’s Wow!Cacao collection features small-batch bonbons with a dark chocolate couverture and creative flavor combos. Creative flavor combinations here include the Guinness & Pretzels, packing all of the salty and malted flavors into a splatter-painted treat.
JoJo’s has mastered the subtleties of French and Belgian traditions. French chocolate is often less sweet, but is not lacking in flavor. JoJo’s signature pecan tortoises are made with premium Belgian chocolate. For bonbon lovers, select from 12 flavors, each painted in a distinct metallic-colored sheen. Fans of dark chocolate would enjoy a dark chocolate peanut butter and jelly-filled bonbon, while those who prefer the sweet side, the milk chocolate cherry satisfies.
Owner Jamie LeBoeuf combines her experiences working in Kuwait and Lebanon with her American chocolate-making expertise. Here, the bonbons come in flavors like Arabic coffee and apricot honey almond, as well as the coconut cardamom caramel bonbon — made with dark chocolate — offers a richer experience.
Baobab Fare’s bean-to-bar approach means owners Hamissi Mamba and Nadia Nijimbere are involved throughout the entirety of the process: from working with farmers in Tanzania to source the cacao beans, roasting, and partnering with metro Detroit-based Dwaar Chocolate to produce visually stunning bars, ideal for sharing (or not). The original Shokola bar consists of 70 percent dark chocolate, while the Shokola Y Karanga contains spicy caramelized peanuts, roasted in Grand Rapids by DeSoto Confections.
What started as a hobby, quickly turned into a chocolate-obsession for Rajani Konkipudi, owner of Keego Harbor’s Dwaar Chocolate. Through a painstaking process, the Equator-grown beans are transformed into the craft chocolate customers have come to expect. Konkipudi’s Indian heritage comes alive in her flavor profiles, with Pista Kulfi bars, inspired by Indian handmade ice cream. Meanwhile, Dwaar’s Mango Madness bar offers a sweet and spicy sensation for fruit chocolate enjoyers.
This Petoskey-based chocolate company specializes in single-origin bars and drinking chocolate. Their Honduras Wampusirpi dark chocolate bar is made with 70 percent cacao, with beans grown in accordance with local traditional practices. Notes of honey and toasted walnut are strong, with a subtle bitterness. Or, curl up with a mug of Crow and Moss’s drinking chocolate made with Dominican Republic Zorzal cacao beans, and offering notes of caramel, cherry. Think hot chocolate’s more mature and cultured older cousin. Available online or in retail locations, like Monger’s Provisions.
Originally started in Belgium in 1949, this family-owned shop is carrying on the legacy of the craft. The shop’s peanut butter cups contain praline mixed with crunchy peanut butter, and the maize-shaped Harvest Corn, a corn-shaped treat with hazelnut and a cornflake crunch. Or try one of the Fall Leaves, a hand painted chocolate leaf with ganache that will have you thinking of road trips up north.