Ever heard that dark chocolate is healthy? That’s all the excuse you need to indulge in the sumptuous creations of Michigan artisan chocolatiers. They strive to incorporate the best ingredients from the state with the rich cacao beans grown by small-scale farmers throughout Central and South America.
The hallmarks of great chocolate are creativity, such as Mokaya’s sundried tomato jelly with lemon thyme balsamic white chocolate, and the goji berry lavender organic 74% cacao chocolate bar from Birmingham Chocolate.
Patricia’s Chocolate hand-selects such ingredients as Black Star Farms’ pear brandy and lavender buds grown at Lavender Hill Farms and demonstrates a commitment to sustainability and fair trade. Jody and D.C. Hayden, owners of the Grocer’s Daughter, visit farms in Ecuador at least once a year. They employ an intermediary to ensure that everyone along the supply chain earns fair wages, and that land conservation and rehabilitation practices are in place.
Here’s a sampling of confections from some of the state’s premier chocolatiers that you’ll want to try.
Birmingham Chocolate, Birmingham
“People go crazy for our chocolate-covered orange peels and our chocolate bar filled with Murdick’s Fudge from Mackinac Island,” says Elle Cabot, chocolate ambassador. Other featured products are seasonal truffles like pumpkin spice, caramel apple pie and spiced apple cider, all handmade in small batches. You can also hop on their website and create your own custom candy bars to your tastes. birminghamchocolate.com
“Former owner Fred Doncker taught our chef how to make the fudge that’s been on the menu since the store opened in 1896,” says manager Ashley Erickson. There’s also an emphasis on natural and fair trade ingredients in all of their candies, like their spicy sea salt caramels and candied sunflower seeds, and they’ll soon be introducing a line of organic chocolates. donckersonline.com
Grocer’s Daughter, Empire
Always eclectic, the Grocer’s Daughter’s exotic options include truffles infused with whiskey from the Traverse City Whiskey Co. and cerise truffles instilled with Chateau Chantal’s cherry port. The craft chocolate shop also offers tasting events and educational experiences such as classes in cacao roasting and rustic truffle-making and chocolate-making for kids. grocersdaughter.com
Mokaya, Grand Rapids
Striking truffle essences like longtime best-seller Thai Basil Black Pepper and sophisticated French-inspired candies— think Peanut Butter Snobinette—are among Mokaya’s many offerings, says co-owner Max Golczynski. A flight of Michigan artisan beer-infused treats includes Harmony Black Squirrel Burnt Caramel and Grand Rapids Brewing Co. Rosalynn Bliss White Chocolate. The name Mokaya traces back to Central American tribal people who created the first documented cacao process, predating the Mayans and Aztecs. mokayagr.com
Patricia’s Chocolate, Grand Haven
“We specialize in chocolates that are Michigan based,” says Patty Christopher, a former psychologist turned chocolatier. She trained at The French Pastry School and is so exacting that she grows the herb for her rosemary caramels, one of her Vintner’s Choice chocolates created to pair with red, white, rosé or dessert wines. patriciaschocolate.com
Photo courtesy of Mokaya
This article originally appeared in the 2019 fall/winter issue of Experience Michigan magazine. The contents of this article were checked for accuracy when it was published; however, it’s possible some of the information has changed. We recommend you call first if you have specific questions for the destinations, attractions or restaurants mentioned in this article.
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