Listen up y’all, ‘cause this is it. The chocolate that I’m talkin’ about is de-li-cious! I’ve got an important announcement to make: Oct. 28 is National Chocolate Day! Since I write “Around town with Allison” pieces, I thought it would be fitting to write about the best local chocolate in the East Bay in preparation for this wonderful holiday.
Disclaimer: I am not (and never have been) a chocolate person. When I was younger, everyone I knew would refer to themselves as a “chocoholic,” and I never really understood why. It’s a brown block that occasionally has bells and whistles — what’s the big whoop? It wasn’t until college that I really started to understand why people were so obsessed over chocolate to the extent of proclaiming themselves as “chocoholics.” Although I don’t consume chocolate on a regular basis or crave it like others, I do enjoy an occasional piece of chocolate from time to time. As with everything, I am very particular, so you better believe this list of local chocolate has some gems in it. Might you be converted into a full-blown chocolate lover by the end of this piece? Maybe — but that’s honestly asking for a lot, so don’t get your hopes up.
Pronounced “cho,” like the first syllable of chocolate, TCHO has been making big waves in the world of chocolate. Made right here in Berkeley, TCHO offers a variety of creative flavors of their organic and fair-trade chocolate. You’ve probably seen this brand at your local grocery store. It’s pretty hard to miss these aesthetic square bars of chocolaty goodness. I’m a sucker for snickerdoodles (the best cookies ever and I will happily fight anyone who disagrees with me), so TCHO’s snickerdoodle chocolate really hits the spot for me. Another one of my favorites is the coffee and almond chocolate for obvious reasons, of course.
Readers of “Around town with Allison” probably remember Blue’s Chocolates from my best hot chocolate in Berkeley piece. Although Blue’s hot chocolate is pretty good, its truffles are the best. Handcrafted and made from fresh ingredients, Blue’s offers a variety of year-round and seasonal flavors, so you’ll always find something new and exciting. The owners of this shop are a husband and wife duo, Christopher Blue and Jessica Steeve. The pair also owns Dora’s Pie next door where Jessica Steeve makes phenomenal pies and Christopher Blue makes chocolate. Um, can someone say #couplesgoals?
Casa de Chocolates
Located in Elmwood, Casa de Chocolates is a favorite among many. I love supporting local businesses, especially ones owned by women! Almost everything is gluten free and dairy free, which makes it all the more accessible. Also featured in my hot chocolate piece, this Latin-inspired joint is known for many things other than its amazing liquid
chocolate gold. Serving flan, chocolate cake and many flavors of chocolate bars and bonbons, there’s a lot to choose from. My go-to chocolate bar is definitely the Peruvian espresso bar. The Cajeta bonbon is pretty out of this world as well.
Coracao takes a healthy spin on your traditional chocolate. While still giving you the same (and arguably even better) taste of chocolate that you’ve grown to love, this Oakland-based company makes its chocolate out of organic cacao, sweetened with coconut sugar. This shop is dairy free, gluten free and soy free, so anyone can enjoy its sweet treats. And because there are no refined sugars or wacky preservatives, you’ll feel great after having a bite (or two) of this chocolate. There’s a lot to love over at Coracao!
Another Oakland-based company, Barlovento Chocolates is where the party is! With cacao sourced from Venezuela and fresh ingredients from local farmers and markets, Barlovento really can do it all. From bars to truffles, no matter what form of Barlovento chocolate you buy, you’ll be sure to love it! There are a lot of flavors to choose from, but no matter what you do, don’t skip out on the fresh mint truffles. Don’t do it.
The East Bay is really killing the chocolate game, folks. The next time you’re wanting to satisfy your chocolate needs, be sure to pick up some local chocolate from any of these amazing companies!
Allison Fong writes the weekly blog column on places and activities to try in and around Berkeley. Contact her at [email protected].