For more than 30 years, Seattle-based owner Fran Bigelow has been setting candy trends—she was selling miniature chocolate bars and elegant truffles before they became ubiquitous. Her sweets also have a very high-profile admirer: As a lover of salty-sweet desserts, one of President Obama’s favorite indulgences is Fran’s Smoked Salt Caramels—buttery caramels coated in milk chocolate and sprinkled with smoked sea salt.
Owner and chocolate visionary Katrina Markoff flavors chocolates with unexpected ingredients (curry powder, bee pollen) and packs them in boldly designed boxes. Markoff is also a pioneer of the bacon-and-chocolate trend and now has glamorous boutiques in Chicago, New York, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
Pastry chef Christopher Elbow worked at the American Restaurant in Kansas City, Missouri, until the demand for his chocolate petits fours convinced him to launch his own candy business in 2003. His beautiful hand-painted chocolates come in creative flavors like bananas Foster and caramel apple. Elbow also makes fantastic chocolate bars, including the favorite among F&W editors, No. 6 Dark Rocks, made with dark chocolate and popping candy.
After gaining recognition for the adorable almond-eared chocolate mice he provided to New York City’s Le Cirque and Bouley in the 1990s, chocolatier Larry Burdick moved to Wapole, New Hampshire, where he opened a cheery yellow café. Today, there are L.A. Burdick locations in New York City, Boston, and Cambridge, Massachusetts, serving his fantastic handmade chocolate candies, from ganache-filled truffles to the chocolate bunnies Burdick makes each spring, an Easter variation on his famous chocolate mice.
San Francisco chocolatier Michael Recchiuti creates market-driven confections like chocolate-dipped pear slices flavored with Key lime juice, and homey chocolate desserts such as Quadruple Chocolate Brownies. F&W editors also love Recchiuti’s dark chocolate-covered burnt caramel almonds and the seasonal peppermint patties.
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