15 Best Luxury Chocolates: Your Ultimate List

When you’re going to indulge in chocolate, you should really indulge. Make it sumptuous luxury chocolate. Life is too short for cheap, waxy imitations when the real thing is this good. These are the best chocolate gifts you can buy without leaving your home.

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Is there really a difference between fancy chocolate and drugstore brands?

Short answer: yes. 

A longer answer is: yes, for a variety of reasons--most which are stemming from manufacturers trying to make more money by using inferior products. Let's break it down.

 First, what is chocolate?

Humans have been consuming the fruits of the cacao tree in one form or another for over 2000 years.

By legal definition in the US, to be called "chocolate" a product has to have a specified minimum content of chocolate liquor.

There is no alcohol in "chocolate liquor" and the term refers to finely ground up cocoa nibs. This mixture contains both cocoa solids and cocoa oils. 

If you extract only the cocoa solids, you get cocoa powder.

If you extract only the cocoa oils, you get cocoa butter. 

So if a product must have chocolate liquor be legally chocolate, an item must contain both cocoa powder and cocoa butter. 

Many, if not most, of the cheap, drugstore chocolates you've had do not contain cocoa butter and instead mix cocoa powder (or even just chocolate flavoring) with cheaper oils like hydrogenated vegetable oil or the environmentally damaging palm oil. 

These compound chocolates have a waxy texture and different mouthfeel than actual chocolate that's easy to detect, especially when eaten side by side. And, in a real legal sense, they aren't chocolate. 

Why would they skip the cocoa butter?

If manufacturers are grinding their cocoa nibs and then extracting their cocoa powder and cocoa butter, why don't they use the cocoa butter they just creating in their chocolate? Money. 

Vegetable oil, which can vary in ingredients, is a far cheaper substitute than pure cocoa butter. And even though they already have cocoa butter as a result of the cacao bean processing, it's more profitable to sell that cocoa butter as a beauty product and then mix their cocoa powder with cheap oils. 

What is luxury chocolate?

So there's compound chocolate like Palmer Double Crisp (please note that they have their own Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula beauty line) regular chocolate like Russel Stover, and then you get into luxury chocolate. 

High-end chocolate has a depth of flavor you wouldn't believe. Think of it like wine: cheap wine has very few notes, but a quality vintage is like a symphony of flavors. Chocolate should be an experience that takes over your taste buds and makes your whole body feel like it's melting. 

In addition to the huge jump in quality and taste, higher-end chocolates are more likely to be less processed and have purer ingredients. Chocolates with higher levels of pure cocoa powder that has been less harshly processed retain the health benefits contained in the cacao bean.

Cocoa is high in antioxidants and medical researchers at Yale have published an article 'Cocoa and Chocolate in Human Health and Disease' that posits that high cocoa intake can reduce inflammation, improve vascular health, protect skin from UV damage (topically), improve mood, improve cognitive function, and even reduce the risk for diabetes. 

Ethical chocolate.

Another reason to shop for luxury chocolate is that oftentimes more expensive, independent brand chocolates are Fair Trade. There is an ugly side to the chocolate industry involving underpaid labor, child labor, and even slave labor. 

Shelling out a little more money for quality confections supports ethical operations and you can enjoy your chocolate guilt-free. Keep an eye out for eco-friendly, ethical, and fair-trade markers. 

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