Good on any occasion, chocolate is an ever-popular pick-me-up that’s often as beautifully crafted as it is delicious. Gilded with edible gold or Jackson Pollock-ed with coloured cocoa butter, the sumptuous treats are delightful whether they’re infused with fruits and spices, filled with silky ganache, purees, creams and praline, oozing with chewy caramel, or formed into embellished bars. From single-origin chocolates to customized blends, these local independent chocolate shops are sure to satisfy any melt-in-the-mouth sugar cravings. Bonus: they also ship across Canada.
829 Bank St., Ottawa, alicjaconfections.com
Second-generation chocolatier Alicja Buchowicz, the creator of the attractively packaged postcard chocolate bar, has become known for using chocolate as a canvas for creating whimsical combination bars, such as pine, popcorn and fluffy Japanese-style cheesecake-flavoured confections. There’s even a monthly Confections Club where subscribers have the chance to taste the newest flavours before they’re released to the general public.
Anne of Green Gables Chocolates
100 Queen St., Charlottetown, annechocolates.com
Aficionados of old-fashioned candies would be thrilled with these simple, handmade chocolate confections. Named after P.E.I.’s famous redhead, the chocolate shop carries fan-favourites such as Cow Chips (chocolate-covered potato chips), Chocolate Sweeties (milk chocolate enrobed old fashioned brown sugar fudge), and sea salted caramels.
409 Industrial Ave., Vancouver, shop.beta5chocolates.com
Contemporary and innovative, this award-winning husband-and-wife-run shop melds art and science into hand-painted artisanal treats. Although their bonbons and cream puffs are only available locally, their fun and creative polygon bars can be shipped across the country. From pop rocks to the Queen of Hearts (freeze-dried raspberries, candied Earl Grey tea, white chocolate), there are also limited-release bars developed in collaboration with other brands, chefs or personalities. The latest includes a Mandarin Crunch bar for Lunar New Year.
Chocolatier Constance Popp
180 Provencher Blvd., Winnipeg, constancepopp.com
Made daily using single-origin chocolate and ingredients like maple syrup, beer, caraway seeds and bacon, the bonbons made by Winnipeg’s first bean-to-bar maker change seasonally. Besides mouth-watering combinations like maple buttercreams, red beet truffles, whiskey bars and grapefruit-basil bonbons, the award-winning chocolate shop is also behind sumptuous delicacies like the wafer-thin Prairie Cow Pie–a blissful combination of Dulcey caramel chocolate, caramel, chocolate honey, pecans, premium dark and milk chocolates. The lauded Manitobar, however, tops a crunchy base made of hemp, sunflower seeds, flaxseed, honey and caramelized flakes with a soft gianduja and praline truffle layer, that’s all blanketed in dark premium chocolate.
Chocolats Geneviève Grandbois
1659 Rue Ontario E, 162 Rue Saint Viateur O, 138 Atwater Ave., Montréal, chocolatsgg.com
Dedicated to the art of chocolate making, these handmade chocolates from this chocolate maker go beyond using traditional methods and local-when-possible ingredients (including honey produced by their own bees). Owner Geneviève Grandbois’ interest in quality control, sustainable agriculture and self-sufficiency includes using beans from a cocoa plantation she bought in Palmar, Costa Rica. Fans stock up on her signature dark chocolate squares that can be packed in a stunning leather gift box. The store’s modern-classic collection includes a maple line in bar form, as truffles or via Le Rocher–a giant bonbon with a creamy maple filling speckled with maple sugar-caramelized pecans and an almond and dark chocolate coating.
The Chocolate Lab
202D Centre St. S., Calgary, chocolatelab.ca
Far from ordinary, the handcrafted bonbons and truffles are known for their unique flavour pairings and their vibrant, colourful shell designs. Husband-and-wife team Dallas and Eva Southcott offer more than 30 wildly original flavours that are inspired by past travels, pairing fresh ingredients like locally roasted espresso, honey or Sichuan pepper with black currant caramel, buttered popcorn and white chocolate ganache, or rose-infused ruby chocolate ganache. You can build a custom box with the International Chocolate Awards-winning Dark Passion, Orange Dreamsicle, Cuppa Joe and Lychee Rose, before stocking up on their extensive collection of cocktail and booze-infused treats like their Scotch on the Rocks, which infuses the chocolatier’s signature dark chocolate ganache with 16-year-old single malt on a layer of pop rocks.
1131 St. Clair Ave., Toronto, chocosoltraders.com
Recognized for their direct-trade sourcing practices and rustic approach to chocolate making, the dark chocolates made by this Mexican-influenced craft chocolate maker are completely vegan as well as being nut-, soy-, gluten- and preservative-free. Staying true to their “good for mind, body, and soil” mantra, the environmentally conscious business uses simple, whole-food ingredients like raw vanilla pods and coconut butter in the bean-to-bar pedal stone-ground bars, plus “omnidegradable” packaging. Their Rustico bars come in classic flavours including Coffee Crunch, 5 Chili Bullet, and unsweetened Gratitude, while the limited-edition Fino collection features sell-outs such as Mon Cherry D’Amour and the unique Jaguar line that’s made using Oaxacan albino cacao.
429 8 Ave SE, Calgary, cochu.ca
Launched in 2017 out of Anne Sellmer’s home kitchen, this city-favourite specialty chocolatier opened its first storefront last summer, and has been regularly selling out of its chocolates, truffles, bonbons and barks ever since. While their Valentine’s offerings are bound to be popular this year—Sellmer’s team recently placed in 18 categories in the Academy of Chocolate Awards—you can still order a 6, 12, or 24-piece Valentine’s Box of their award-winners by emailing the shop.
État de choc
6466 Boulevard St-Laurent, Montréal, etatdechoc.com
Using couverture chocolate sourced with the utmost care, this luxury chocolate shop’s retail lineup includes hot chocolate mixes, elegant ingot-shaped bonbons and their multiple Canadian Chocolatier Competition-winning chocolate bars such as the maple and fir flavoured Tablette Sapin Érable or the corn and chilli pepper containing Maïs Piment. They also serve as a one-stop-shop for bean-to-bar chocolates from other Montreal-based producers including Avanna, Qantu and Chocolats Monarque.
9 Houston Dr., Almonte, hummingbirdchocolate.com
Chocolate makers Drew and Erica Gilmore have won more than 90 international awards (and counting) in the short time they’ve been producing their handmade single-origin chocolate bars. Those accolades include the prestigious Golden Bean from the London Academy of Chocolate for having the best chocolate in the world, the Hispaniola 70 percent dark chocolate bar. Made from Trinitarian beans grown in the northern highlands of the Dominican Republic, the Hispaniola expresses deep cherry and light citrus notes. Like Hummingbird’s other bean-to-bar chocolates, it’s also made in small batches using direct-trade organic beans and a multi-step process that takes over a month. Other bestsellers include the Fleur de Sel 70 percent that combines the Hispaniola with Vancouver Island Salt Co. sea salt, Toffee & Nib bar and salted caramels enrobed in dark chocolate.
1977 Rue Centre suite 100, Montréal, lecavalierpetrone.com
Co-founders Chloé Migneault-Lecavalier and Loïse Desjardins-Petrone are behind this workshop-boutique where chocolate, pastry and design converge in the form of speckled hand-painted bonbon bars. Bursting with flavour, the signature collection includes popular combinations like sea buckthorn and caramelized white chocolate, blackberry with Tasmanian pepper, plus almond and hazelnut praline. Specializing in tailor-made confections that are perfect for any occasion, the duo have created exclusive Valentine’s flavours that includes centres filled with caramelized white chocolate and marshmallow, or passion fruit caramel and hazelnut praline.
5325 4 St. SE, Calgary, masterchocolat.com
Highly regarded Master Chocolatier Bernard Callebaut is no stranger to creating fine chocolates; the fourth-generation chocolatier is founder of esteemed Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut (recognized by its elegant copper boxes). The father of Calgary’s high-end chocolate is back with Master Chocolat, where he continues to craft chocolate confections that also includes a vegan and a no-sugar added line. Choose from chocolate bars, chocolate-covered nuts and treats, or create your own box from the classic lineup that might include La Mer (salted caramel), orange (Grand Marnier and orange peel), mint, raspberry (raspberry puree in fresh cream) or Winston (single malt Scotch infused grape puree).
Newfoundland Chocolate Company
166 Duckworth St., St. John’s, newfoundlandchocolatecompany.com
Inspired by the province’s diverse landscape, these handmade chocolates are an ode to everything that’s of Newfoundland and Labrador. Crafted from local ingredients from sea salt to fresh wild berries such as partridgeberries and bakeapples, their chocolate bonbons are even named after notable places, landmarks and individuals within the province. In addition to their signature boxed chocolates, which are packaged according to themes—including a series using Newfoundland Screech (rum), there’s also a deep line of candy bars that are wrapped with artwork depicting iconic row houses, bar and pub-rich George Street or Newfoundlander sayings.
601 Gerrard St. E., Toronto, onyxchocolates.com
Sporting a crisp lacquered chocolate shell, these small-batch bonbons present like jewels in their custom-fitted box. With fillings that range from yuzu pine to warming five-spice, fun and subtle hazelnut praline pop rocks to rich loquat-flavoured Pei Pak Koa, these combinations help transport taste buds around the world. There are eye-catching chocolate bars studded with Mi Goreng or delightful blends like the International Chocolate Awards-winning Black Sesame Yuzu, but for a true taste sensation, consider building your own box. The latter may include Hojicha Matcha, a dainty bonbon that hides nuggets of chewy mochi in a chocolate ganache infused with the charcoal-roasted green tea’s intoxicating flavour; meanwhile, Mango Lassi, Tom Yum Caramel, Salted Egg Black Sesame, and Pandan Kaya are big nods to the punchy flavours of South and Southeast Asia.
Peace by Chocolate
32 Bay Street, Antigonish, peacebychocolate.ca
For traditional Syrian-style bonbons filled with nuts, fruit and spices, as well as hope and resilience, look to these confections made by the Hadhad family who have brought their 20-plus years of chocolate making experience to Antigonish. Although it was a civil war that forced the Hadhads out of Syria as refugees, the kindness the new Canadians encountered in their community inspired a number of products. There’s Peace bars to confections that contribute to significant community and cultural not-for-profit organizations including the Welcome Bar which benefits The Refugee Hub. For Valentine’s they’ve put together a chocolate box that includes a bonus piece of heartstrings-tugging love advice, or stock up with The Mood Booster Box that features a mix of their best sellers and see for yourself why One Peace Won’t Hurt™.
Raven Rising Chocolates
Focused on producing sustainable, traceable, fair-trade chocolates, this Sudbury-based e-commerce company uses traditional ingredients sourced, when possible, from Indigenous people and businesses. Once a month, chocolatier Tammy Maki, a Saulteaux Ojibwe Kwe from White Bear First Nation in Saskatchewan, makes four kinds of her small batch, hand-produced indigenous ingredient-inspired chocolates that might include classic Valentine’s flavours like milk chocolate caramel, passion fruit dark chocolate, cinnamon heart white chocolate, and ruby rose with gold. A portion of all proceeds are donated to the Indian Residential Survivors School Society.
5151 South St., Halifax, rousseauchocolatier.ca
Specializing in handcrafted chocolates, husband-and-wife team Julien Rousseau-Dumarcet and Nathalie Morin opened this Halifax gem after working for award-winning chocolatiers in Europe. Customers can see how the team—who make everything on site—incorporates local-when-possible whole ingredients and real fruits into their bonbons through a viewing window in the store. Pick from the single-origin bars sourced from six countries, photogenic artisan chocolate bars, chocolate slates like the dark chocolate cranberry with maple flakes to chocolate-dipped meringues, artisanal marshmallows and orangettes. And if there’s still room in the checkout cart, consider adding seasonally inspired confections like the PB&J or hot (local) rum toddy chocolate bonbon.
32 Tank House Ln., 443 King St. W., 77 Brock Ave., Toronto, somachocolate.com
Celebrated internationally, chocolatiers David Castellan and Cynthia Leung are a fixture when it comes to amassing awards for their bean-to-bar chocolate. Sourcing cacao beans from all over the world, the team hand-sorts, roasts, conchs, and magically transforms the chocolate into an extensive line of treats. There are cookies, drinking chocolate, gourmet bonbons from artfully piped gianduja truffles and preservative-free caramel and praline truffles to the impressive, life-sized birch branch filled with International Chocolate Awards-winning gianduja and sour cherry jelly. Their Revolution line features bite-sized “tumbles” of chocolate-coated tidbits like roasted cacao nibs, or soft and chewy chunks of Thai coconut meat that are coated in white then milk chocolate layers and dusted with cocoa powder that resembles tiny coconuts. For Valentine’s, there’s a chocolate and cherry truffle heart that features a crunchy wildflower honey sable biscuit base.
10155 102 St. NW, Edmonton, sweetlollapalooza.com
Australian chef-turned-chocolatier Brett Roy’s fêted chocolates are more than pieces of edible art—the small-batch bonbons made daily have won more than 90 international chocolate awards. Taking up to three days to make, the handcrafted premium chocolates use the highest quality cacao, including the rare Pure Nacional chocolate from Peru. The latter, once thought to be extinct, has delicate roasted nut notes, soft floral aroma and intense, non-bitter flavours. Containing no added preservatives, sugars or other additives, the shop’s collection includes crowd-favourites like the tender chocolate Salted Caramels and Passion Paradou—a bonbon inspired by the pavlova made by Roy’s mother—enrobes passion fruit-infused milk chocolate ganache in dark chocolate.
2539 W Broadway, Vancouver, 604-736-1848, thomashaas.com
Named one of the top 10 pastry chefs in America by Pastry Art & Design Magazine, this fourth-generation pâtissier is renowned for creating sweets that are as visually captivating as they are delicious. A local favourite for handmade chocolates, truffles, chocolate bars, confections and pastries, they even have a no-broken-chocolate guarantee for all shipped orders. A new line is geared towards dark chocolate lovers, focusing on the bold and bittersweet flavours of the brand’s own bean-to-bar 69.3 percent dark chocolate (that’s made from Mexican and Costa Rican cocoa beans). Choose from the assortment of products and packages or pick up the ultimate gift box that packs all of the above with chocolate sparkle cookies and classic hot chocolate.
Those Girls at the Market
812 16 St W, Saskatoon, thosegirlsatthemarket.com
With backgrounds in health and fitness, the raw cacao chocolate bars handcrafted by sisters Julianna and Ying Tan are made using organic ingredients including cacao paste and maple syrup. Coming in an assortment of flavours, the ethically and sustainably sourced bars are available in classic flavours like mint or cranberry sea salt to monthly changing numbers such as ultra-creamy avocado, carrot cake to piña colada. The latter is a chocolate bar made with coconut cream and loaded with organic dried pineapple, meanwhile seasonally appropriate flavours like the cinnamon heart use organic cinnamon and a sprinkle of coconut sugar to achieve that coveted sweet and spicy taste.