Hawai‘i Chocolate: 8 Best Local Places to Buy Chocolate in Honolulu
From truffles to single-estate bars to chocolate-covered everything, a roundup of O‘ahu’s best artisanal chocolate.
Photo: Steve Czerniak
Unless you’re part of Lonohana’s Chocolate Club, a bimonthly subscription of small-batch bars, visiting the factory is the only way to taste this estate chocolate. Pick up the bright and fruity Kanahiku 70-percent dark-chocolate bar, which contains two ingredients: cacao and cane sugar, the former grown on Lonohana’s farm and the latter sourced from Maui. A taste of Lonohana’s milk-chocolate bar, the Hapalua, will reveal how seductive milk chocolate can be: luscious and creamy with hints of butterscotch. You can also buy select bars online if there are any left after subscription orders are sent out.
296 Mokauea St., #101, 223-9997, lonohana.com
Every bar at Madre comes with a story. Take the Likao Kula bar: Grown at a chilly elevation of 1,600 feet, chocolate from this farm feels extra creamy because of the additional cocoa butter the beans produce to keep warm. Overall, the Hawaiian chocolate tastes fruity, but you’ll find different textures and subtleties in each bar, along with additional flavors such as liliko‘i and ginger. Madre also sells chocolate bars made with beans sourced from Latin America, truffles, “Mactella” (chocolate-and-macadamia-nut spread), drinking chocolate and other treats. Make your own bar at a chocolate-making class, held weekly.
20 Kainehe St., Kailua, and 8 N. Pauahi St., 377-6440, madrechocolate.com
The highlight of the Mānoa Chocolate factory tour is a side-by-side tasting of single-origin dark chocolate. You’ll learn how different chocolates can taste, from the smooth and buttery chocolate from Ecuador to the Papua New Guinea chocolate that starts off tasting like tart raspberry and, as it melts on the tongue, transforms into smoky fudge. Take a few bars home and try some wine pairings, like the Papua New Guinea with a Zinfandel, or the ghost pepper bar with a fizzy cava to cool down the heat.
315 Uluniu St., Suite 203, Kailua, 262-6789, manoachocolate.com
Coming Soon: Waialua Estate Coffee and Chocolate Factory
Dole is taking back Dole Cannery. Construction has begun on a factory where visitors will be able to see how Waialua-grown coffee and chocolate is made. Previously, Dole’s Waialua Estate chocolate was processed at Guittard in California; now, as part of its chocolate expansion plans, it’s taking control of the entire bean-to-bar process.
Best Local Chocolate Selection
Find the largest selection of local chocolate at Whole Foods, which includes the Original Hawaiian Chocolate, in bar and plumeria form; Hawaiian Crown’s dark-chocolate bars blended with fruits grown on its own farms, such as apple banana and pineapple; and a variety of bars from Madre and Mānoa Chocolate.
Kāhala Mall, 4211 Wai‘alae Ave., #2000, 738-0820, and 629 Kailua Road, #100, Kailua, 263-6800
Honolulu Chocolate Co.
Step into Honolulu Chocolate Co. and you’ll discover a chocolate-covered world beyond mac nuts. You’ll certainly find your beloved mac nuts, upgraded with a shell of quality chocolate, but you’ll also discover candied apricots and orange slices dipped in milk or dark chocolate. Each piece of lacquered fruit provides a chewy, tart balance to the chocolate, like Muddy Bears all grown up.
Ward Village, 1200 Ala Moana Blvd., 591-2997, honoluluchocolate.com
Master chocolatier Virginia Douglas’ pretty painted truffles incorporate a variety of fruits and spices, and an occasional bacon-cream caramel. Because—bacon! Other delicate confections here include chocolates with creamy centers infused with passion fruit, strawberry guava and coconut with kaffir.
Note: Kokolani Chocolates is no longer in Kailua. It’s now located in Kihei, Maui. 34 Wailea Gateway Pl., Kokolani:(808)781-6353, Shop:(808) 344-1040
There doesn’t seem to be a flavor this little Mānoa chocolatier won’t try. Playing it safe? Pick up the caramel with sea salt or liliko‘i. Ready to think outside the chocolate box? Try the red velvet or mac nut, honey, coconut and peanut butter confection. Like boozy sweets? Bite into truffles infused with ice wine or Macallan 12 or even one with sake, miso and agave.
2909 Lowrey Ave., 426-6540, chocolea.com
When you eat one of Philippe and Pierre Padovani’s creations, you join the likes of Robert De Niro, Oprah Winfrey, the Dalai Lama. Dozens of flavors combine perfectly poured chocolate with fresh and creamy ganache, crunchy nuts and other surprises. “There are a lot of unique things we do here,” Philippe says, including some naughty Kama Sutra chocolates. Grab a box or two, or even a crystal pineapple filled with truffles.
650 ‘Iwilei Road, Suite 280, 536-4567, padovanichocolates.com
This story is part of The Everything Guide to Local Chocolate in our December 2015 issue. Click here for more.