One bar at a time, American chocolate makers are producing excellent chocolate. Here are a few notable bars from small producers using great beans. At a time when the mass market is crowded with bars labeled "single origin" (which doesn't necessarily speak to the quality of the chocolate), these are handcrafted standouts.
Amano Artisan Chocolate Ocumare, 70%: An elegant chocolate bar, with floral and fruit aromas and subtle flavors of plum and almond. Not as fruity as the chocolate maker's Madagascar and not as earthy as its limited-edition Cuyagua, it's well-balanced and classic. Very smooth and creamy-textured. The finish is pleasantly bitter, with a hint of peach flavor. 2 ounces, $6.95, www.amanochocolate.com
DeVries Chocolate Costa Rican Trinitario, 77%: Robust chocolate and fruit aromas. It's a bold, intense chocolate bar with lots of complexity, big berry and tropical fruit flavors. There's no added cocoa butter or lecithin, so it has heft; it's not creamy but melts cleanly. (And it makes an excellent chocolate for baking, such as chocolate sablé cookies.) 2.3 ounces, $7.35, www.devrieschocolate.com
Patric Chocolate Madagascar Sambirano Valley, 67% and 70%: Chocolate maker Alan McClure makes two different bars from the same beans -- with 67% and 70% cacao content. Both have bright fruit flavors of plum and citrus with notes of leather. The 67% bar has added cocoa butter. 1.75 ounces, $5.75, www.patric-chocolate.com
Rogue Chocolatier Sambirano, 70%: Rogue's Colin Gasko uses the same beans as McClure to different effect. Beautifully packaged, it's also fruity -- really plummy with a hit of caramel and cedar on the finish. It's also somewhat creamier than the Patric Sambirano bars. 2.12 ounces, $5.99, www.roguechocolatier.com
-- Betty Hallock
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