Favorite Hawaii Chocolates and Truffles
A survey of Honolulu’s chocolatiers and bean-to-bar makers, just in time for Valentine’s Day.
Photo: David Croxford
“Kailua is turning into the bean-to-bar chocolate capital of the US!” says Dave Elliott of Madre Chocolate. Lucky we live Hawaii: Life for chocoholics has never been better, thanks to a new wave of single-origin chocolate makers based in the Islands. Here, we round up our favorite bars, either made in Hawaii, or with locally grown cacao, or both. Plus, a few chocolatiers who create confections that make our lives so much sweeter, for the upcoming Valentine’s Day and beyond.
69% Goat Milk
This Kailua bean-to-bar maker used to grind its chocolate with a jury-rigged Dora the Explorer tricycle. Recently, though, it expanded its production facility and output, which means it’s now easier to get Manoa Chocolate’s 72-percent single-estate dark chocolate bars highlighting cacao from around the world, or the goat milk bar, which tastes like chocolate cheesecake. $9, manoachocolate.com
Lonohana Hawaiian Estate Chocolate
Seneca Klassen is both a cacao farmer and a chocolate maker. He does it all: grows the cacao on the North Shore; roasts and grinds the chocolate in his Kalihi factory; and turns it into satiny bars. With cacao from his own farm, he’s created a dark milk chocolate bar that’s as smooth and lush as butterscotch. $12, lonohana.com
Turn up the heat with this bar, which delivers warm spice and a smoky bite. As with many of its bars, Madre Chocolate pays homage to chocolate’s history: The chipotle and allspice in this one were inspired by the traditional chocolate flavorings of the Aztecs. $7, madrechocolate.com
Another local collaboration with Guittard, these single-origin bars made with cacao from Waialua are known for their fruity, bright flavors captured in smooth chocolate. $6.99, waialuaestate.com
Maile Kai Chocolates
The cacao is from the North Shore of Oahu, blended with milk at Guittard in San Francisco. The result: an utterly creamy chocolate that tastes of caramel with hints of raisin, thanks to the fruity cacao. $5.99, maliekai.com
Truffles and confections
Preorders for Choco lea’s mochi truffles for New Year’s sold out within 24 hours, so place your order now for its Valentine’s Day specials, such as a box of boozy truffles in flavors of Kahlua, lychee liqueur and sake. Its other popular chocolates, such as lilikoi and caramel with alaea Hawaiian sea salt, in demand by hotels such as the Halekulani and Moana Surfrider, will also be available to woo your chocolate lover. $35 for a box of 20, chocolea.com
Brothers Philippe and Pierre Padovani, two of Hawaii’s best chefs, have been flying a bit under the radar in recent years. But they’re still creating chocolate gems in their hidden Dole Cannery location. Among the 40-some flavors: ginger ganache, calamansi caramel, raspberry liqueur, pirie mango. Plus, available for preorder: strawberries dipped in pure, dark chocolate. $2.15 a piece, padovanichocolates.com
Honolulu Chocolate Co.
It started as a cafe in Manoa in 1987. It’s since grown into one of Honolulu’s biggest chocolatiers. Our favorite treats here are the 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. About $2 a piece, honoluluchocolate.com