If, like us, a few squares of dark chocolate are what get you through the day, then you'll be happy to know that the Bay Area boasts a tasty selection of locally made artisanal bars. Studies show that dark chocolate can have powerful health-promoting properties, so go ahead and enjoy these goodies guilt-free.
Dandelion Chocolate is a bean-to-bar chocolate factory in the Mission started by a group of foodies with an intense obsession for eating the world's best chocolate. The obsession eventually lead to growing small cacao plants in their apartment and pan roasting beans in the oven. In 2010, they decided to share their craft chocolate with the Bay Area. Stop by for a taste of the heavenly Camino Verde, Ecuador —100% ground cacao, with no added sugar, cocoa butter, lecithin, or vanilla. // dandelionchocolate.com/store
It should come as no surprise that famed Ghirardelli Chocolate—founded in San Francisco more than 160 years ago, making it America’s oldest continuously operating chocolate maker—boasts a wide variety of premium dark chocolate, including the classic Intense Dark 72% Cacao Twilight Delight Bar. Seeking some more exotic flavors? Devour the Raspberry Radiance, Mango Sunset, or Cherry Tango bars. Your taste buds will thank you. // ghirardelli.com/dark-chocolate
Husband-wife team Michael and Jacky Recchiuti created Recchiuti Confections in 1997. Michael, a self-trained chocolatier inspired by traditional European techniques, and Jacky, with a strong passion for all things art and design, recognized that beautiful packaging if just as important as the chocolate within. Spoil yourself and indulge in their carefully crafted Orchard bar, inspired by Michael's fondness for currants with chocolate. // recchiuti.com/orchardbar
For all you health and wellness junkies out there, Coconut Secret, based in Mill Valley, has created a line of 100% organic and fair trade chocolate bars that are completely cane sugar free. Instead, they use lower glycemic organic coconut crystals to naturally add a little sweetness. Go for the Peruvian Dark Chocolate Crunch Bar and allow your senses to be taken to another (healthier) dimension. // coconutsecret.com/crunch%20bar
L’ Amourette Chocolate began with a love story: chocolatier Andre V swept his sweetheart and future wife off her feet with a single piece of decadent chocolate. Years later, you can still taste the passion that goes into crafting each special recipe using only organic and raw ingredients. Meat lovers, you'll be drooling over their one of a kind 72% Dark Chocolate bar seasoned with bacon and salami. // lamourettechocolat.com/bars
This impressive five-generation family company has been keeping locals happy since it originally opened its doors on Sansome Street in 1868, not long after the California Gold Rush. Now based out of Burlingame, you can find their sustainable products online or at select gourmet specialty food retailers around the Bay Area. Strike gold and enjoy Guittard’s range of dark chocolate that goes as high as 91% cacao. // guittard.com/our-chocolate
Keep it pure with TCHO PureNotes Dark Chocolatey bar, which contains only pure dark chocolate made from superb cacao beans. With 70% cacao, it has a rich, fudge-like flavor with hints of roasted malt and caramel. Originally on the Embarcadero in San Francisco, they recently expanded to a larger facility in Berkeley (which will soon be open to the public for tours). With stylish modern packaging, this chocolate bar makes for the perfect little gift, although you may be tempted to keep it all to yourself. // tcho.com/shop
Based out of Berkeley, Artisana Organics—known for their nutritious nut and seed butters—recently launched a new line of chocolate bars. Using the finest cacao in the world, their team of expert chocolatiers produce divine dark chocolate bars which ooze with flavor and infectious aroma. Each square will leave you wanting more and the 75% Organic Swiss Chocolate Bar made with Venezuelan Criollo Cacao will have you floating on a cloud. // artisanaorganics.com/chocolate-bars
Poco Dolce's line of creamy bittersweet chocolate bars feature all natural ingredients blended with a rich dark chocolate that literally melts in your mouth. Put simply, you must try The California Olive Oil with Sea Salt Bar. Other luxurious flavors include hazelnut, peanut butter, five spice (perfect for the holiday season), bittersweet, Mayan chile, and burnt caramel. So load up on these gourmet treats and share them with your friends, you’ll be all the more popular for it. // pocodolce.com
Sacred Chocolate is as pure as it gets when it comes to enjoying dark chocolate in its most authentic form. Popular raw guru David Wolfe ensures this little piece of heaven is handmade with love (unroasted, stone-ground, organic, and vegan), and provides maximum nutritional benefits for enhanced well being. It is lightly and naturally sweetened, and uses fair-trade certified whole bean cacao from Ecuador. That's what we call guilt-free snacking! // sacredchocolate.com/pages
Sarah Hawthorne is the founder of My Balance & Wellness.