Buy This: The holidays are your excuse to indulge in these chocolates

It’s December. You need chocolate. Try these.

Bean-to-Bar Bonbons from Asheville’s French Broad Chocolates 

Fifteen years ago, Dan and Jael Rattigan dropped out of grad school and bought an abandoned cacao plantation in Costa Rica. They opened a cafe which is still going strong, but eventually gave in to the lure of Asheville as a new home base. The plantation is still being restored, but the couple now is mostly in Asheville importing cacao from small farmers and refining it into bonbons, chocolate bars and many flavors of brownies. They use locally grown ingredients in their bonbons like fresh raspberries, strawberries, and lavender with wildflower honey. We especially like the Sorghum Caramel truffle made with sorghum molasses. And the brownies, which manage to be both cakey and chewy. Delicious and really rich. If you’re still in need of a holiday gift or two, send a 3-, 6- or 12-month chocolate subscription. They’ll love it.

Prices range from $17 for a 6-piece box of bonbons to $11 for bar chocolate to $30 for a 6-piece assortment of brownies. Available at 1000 Faces Coffee, Star Provisions, Strippaggio and Xocolatl or at the Chocolate Lounge in downtown Asheville or at the factory and tasting room at 821 Riverside Drive, Asheville.

Ecuadorian Chocolate from Athens’ Condor Chocolates 

It's a business "starts cute" story. Dad's backpacking in Ecuador, meets Mom. They fall in love. They marry, move to Athens, Georgia, and have two sons. The sons grow up to do many things including running a chocolate factory where they use Ecuadorian chocolate to make bean-to-bar chocolate bars, truffles, sipping chocolate, hot cocoa, coffee, iced beverages, gelato and more. Did you read about their chocolate in Southern Living or Garden & Gun? We tried the Palo Santo Dark Chocolate 70% + Bulls Bay Smoked Sea Salt chocolate bar. Already fans of Bulls Bay and their artisan South Carolina salts, we were tickled to see their salt used in this bar. The smoke flavor is subtle, as is the salt, and the rich creamy chocolate flavor really shines through.

Prices range from $ 9 per 2.29-ounce bar to $36 for an assortment of 18 truffles. Available at Floral Park Market, Found Co. in Decatur, South End Trading at Omni Hotel at The Battery Atlanta, Georgia Crafted and Star Provisions or at the cafe at 1658 S. Lumpkin, Athens.

Dark Chocolate Honey Patties from Lovely Candy

Sweet, cool mint patties are made for cool winter days. But the ones we’d tried were always so overwhelmingly sweet. Mint Honey Patties from Lovely Candy made in partnership with Honey Acres have just three ingredients: honey, chocolate liquor and oil of peppermint. The combination is refreshing without bowling you over with sugar. We don’t know how they turn honey into the filling that goes inside the crisp chocolate shell, but the result is a nice balance of honey sweet and chocolate bitter. They’re also available in original and raspberry flavors.

$4.99 per 4.5-ounce package. Available at T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods.


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