The World's Most Expensive Chocolates
Luxury Chocolate at World-Class Prices
Here are the world's most expensive chocolates from the world's elite chocolatiers. One by one, we'll talk about what makes these amazing confections so special, and have a look at the geniuses behind the brands. Our love affair with exotic and expensive chocolates is burning bright, and elite chocolatiers from around the world are always dreaming up new flavor combinations -- their creations include everything from spicy chili peppers to pure gold to the most expensive chocolate truffle ever created.
It's true that expensive chocolates are a luxury -- but many are an affordable luxury. It's a fact that a gift of world-class chocolate will be remembered long after the chocolate is gone. And what else could you have done with that money that would bring you so much love in return?
If you're not quite ready to commit to expensive chocolate as a gift for someone else, then maybe a gift for yourself is in order. When was the last time you treated ourself to a truly world-class experience?
The world's most expensive chocolates are displayed in beautiful rows in gleaming boutiques from New York to Tokyo. I have brought them together here for your pleasure and convenience. Although it is true that no list will include every possible offering, there are enough world-class offerings here to amaze and tempt anyone. The most expensive -- a single diamond-encrusted truffle that goes for $250,000 -- may not be in everyone's budget, but I have included a range of prices to bring the experience within reach of nearly anyone. Enjoy!
The World's Most Expensive Chocolates: Vosges -- $69 per pound
This Chicago-based chocolate company is famous for its daring and often counter-intuitive flavor elements, including wasabi, chipotle peppers and aged balsamic vinegar. But that's just the start -- this company aims to connect chocolate to much more than something as basic as flavors, or even food. The company's website explains that "each of Markoff's chocolate creations is inspired by a small piece of the world, illuminated through the art of chocolate. Spanish architect Anton Gaud's La Sagrada Familia is represented by chocolate and saffron truffles coated in all natural sugar crystals to reflect his brilliant mosaic work. The collection of Zion celebrates ingredients indigenous to Jamaica-sorrel and hibiscus flowers, hemp seeds and mango-to explore Rastafarian culture." It goes on to describe the connection between the writing of F. Scott Fitzgerald and a special collection of champagne-flavored chocolates named, naturally, The Gatsby Collection. Whether one sees at a green light at the end of the pier while savoring these candies is debatable, but grand claims and connections are the order of the day with this company. Come to think of it, grand claims are the coin of the realm when it comes to premium chocolate.
The World's Most Expensive Chocolates: Michael Recchiuti -- $85 per pound
This San Francisco-based chocolate house is the dream of one talented candy creator. As Recchiuti himself says, "I love chocolate. I always have and I always will. I love the perfect snap of a fine chocolate bar, the tobacco notes of a rare cacao varietal and the sheen of a gorgeously enrobed confection." Chocolate houses that reflect the life and love of an individual are a mainstay of the elite confectionery world. Mr. Rechhiuti is one of the people who make the world of premier chocolate fascinating: an out-sized personality with a creative flair. In some cases, as we will see later, these entrepreneurs come from an entirely different field to pursue a dream of producing something truly remarkable. Inspiring, no?
The World's Most Expensive Chocolates: Richard Donnelly -- $75 per pound
Richard Donnely produces no more than fifty pounds of chocolate a day, quite different from the mass-production of premier chocolate giants (think Godiva). He is also one of the more restrained, if not downright conservative, chocolatiers on this list. He eschews elements such as gold leaf and bacon, and doesn't attempt to draw connections between the candy he spends his day making and materspieces of Western literature. One reason may be Donnely's roots: he apprenticed for another giant on this list, Robert Linxe of La Maison du Chocolat, and perhaps some of the French style of consistency and restraint rubbed off. In any case, Donnely's chocolate is hard to find and naturally quite expensive.
The World's Most Expensive Chocolates: Chuao -- $79 per pound
Chuao Chocolatier (pronounced chew-WOW) has its roots in Venezuela, though it is fast becoming one of California's premier chocolate houses. Founded in 2002 by Master Chef Michael Antonorsi and his brother Richard Antonorsi - the company's Chairman of the Board; Chuao Chocolatier is pioneering "fusion chocolate" through a commitment to creating unusual and unexpected candies using secret blends and creative combinations.
Founded by two Venezuelan born brothers, Chuao Chocolatier was named after the legendary cacao-producing region of Chuao (pronounced chew-WOW), which is an area of central Venezuela. They try to incorporate their Venezuelan family heritage into their creations: their ancestors once ran a small family farm that was an important part of the cacao plantation industry. Their signature flavor, Spicy Maya, was a modern twist on the Mayan's ancient hot chocolate recipe made with, among other ingredients, cayenne pepper. The Spicy Maya flavor has since extended into a chocolate bar, ChocoPod, and a bonbon, as well as hot chocolate, brownies, and gelato. Other unusual flavor combinations include Firecracker, a chipotle caramel fudge truffle with "pop rocks" candy, and Pan Con Chocolate, a dark chocolate bonbon filled with roasted Panko bread crumbs and olive oil ganache.
The World's Most Expensive Chocolates: La Maison du Chocolat -- $85 per pound.
La Maison du Chocolat has one of the most impressive web sites of any on this list -- almost worth a visit in itself, whether you intend to buy chocolate or not. It includes a "travel notebook," which should give you a clue as to the adventurous attitude of this company. Their gleaming boutiques, in the world's greatest cities, appear to be an extension of this ultra-high-class establishment's attitude. Where in the world do you want to go today? La Maison du Chocolat is happy to take you there, via a taste of one of their confections.
The World's Most Expensive Chocolates: Debauve & Gallais -- $94 per pound
Debauve & Gallais is the oldest chocolate house in Paris -- it was founded in 1800 by Sulpice Debauve, pharmacist of the King Louis XVI, and his nephew, Antoine Gallais -- and ranks at the top of destination chocolatiers in France, if not all of Europe. Part of this establishment's unique history is the fact that it evolved apart form the industrialization that changed not only food production but civilization in the 18th and 19th century. Debauve & Gallais still create their chocolate following principles of handcraft and artisanship, despite their size and prominent position in the industry. All hail the old guard! this company is still protecting the traditional methods that guided them in the beginning.
The World's Most Expensive Chocolates: Pierre Marcolini -- $102.50 per pound
Belgian chocolatier Pierre Marcolini opened his first shop in Paris in 2003. Situated on the rue de Seine, the shop features more than 60 varieties of bonbons rich with unusual flavors, including:
* Baies Roses,"a bitter ganache flavored with Moroccan pink pepper berries"
* Th au Citron,"a bergamot infusion combined with fresh lemon and lime zest"
* Carabe Grand Cru, "a bitter 72 per cent ganache flavored with vanilla pods from Madagascar/Tahiti."
Marcolini was named Premier Belgian Ice Cream Confectioner in 1991, World Pastry Champion in 1995 and European Pastry Champion in 2000.
The World's Most Expensive Chocolates: Godiva G Collection -- $120 per pound
Godiva is, perhaps, the only name on this list that is familiar to everyone -- a cultural mainstay that has managed to make its name synonymous with "fancy chocolate." Not without its critics, Godiva has embraced the mass-production and mass-marketing techniques viewed with distain, or outright hostility, by others on this list. You and I may find Godiva in any reasonably upscale department store in any reasonably large city in the world, and their on-line presence is far-reaching as well -- Amazon and several other on-line retailers carry their products in all shapes and sizes. The G Collection, however, is intended to break from the image and produce a singular, elite line of chocolates. It is, of course, common for a mass-marketed company to include a "limited edition" version of its product, and it's easy to be a bit cynical about Godiva's G collection. But the familiarity of the brand will no doubt make the G Collection desirable.
The World's Most Expensive Chocolates: Richart -- $120 per pound
Richart, one of the premier chocolatiers in the world, offers classes at The Richart School of Tasting. It is worth quoting at length from a description of this program -- this fascinating passage from the school literature describes the finer points of chocolate tasting:
"Chocolate tasting skills will allow you to truly savor gourmet chocolate. And learning to taste fine chocolate and appreciate its distinctive personalities is a pleasure. With wine or coffee, many people begin their discovery with sweeter versions before developing a taste for fine, dry wines or the delicious bite of an inky black Espresso... Bitterness, acidity, sweetness, astringency and saltiness (depending on the filling) are the basic tastes inherent to chocolate. The cocoa should be slightly bitter, but without being acrid. A barely perceptible touch of acidity and slight sweetness help only to highlight other, more powerful flavors. The intense aromas and perfumes of the chocolate unfold fairly on the tongue before providing a very distinct final note.
Aromas and flavors you may detect in chocolate include cocoa, pineapple, banana, passion fruit, vanilla, cinnamon or a blends of these. All of the aromas of plain chocolate, coupled with the wonderful flavors of the filling - almond, hazelnut, pistachio, walnut, honey, and fresh fruits. Some fillings even have a hint of saltiness, which highlights the other flavors even more intensely. In regards to texture: there should be absolutely no noticeable "grain" on the tongue when you are chocolate tasting. This is why at RICHART, the ingredients are ground and blended to an imperceptible fineness of between 12 and 20 microns."
Pineapple as a note in chocolate? Assessing the grain of a chocolate to a tenth of a micron? Richart takes their chocolate seriously.
The World's Most Expensive Chocolates: DeLafee -- $508 per pound
Gold has been added to premier and gourmet food for a long time, primarily in Europe, and in recent years it has made its way into the American mainstream -- shots of Goldschlager, anyone? -- in the form of flakes and trace amounts. DeLafee Chocolates is known for its use of edible gold leaf in its candies, which must be the height of decadence -- after all, what does trace amounts of metal actually add to the flavor and texture of chocolate? As it turns out, according to a DeLafee press release, you can taste gold -- it offers a distinctive taste that is thin but pleasant, "unlike tin," and blends gloriously with the ganache of the chocolate. For those of us who like our gold sweet, DeLafee is the place.
The World's Most Expensive Chocolates: Noka -- $309 per pound
Noka Chocolates was started by a pair of Canadian accountants, Katrina Merrem and Noah Houghton, who decided one day to switch gears. They left the accounting world and started this premier chocolate company from scratch -- quite a daring and innovative change in direction. Two years later, they founded Noka Chocolate in Plano, Texas.
Noka has come in for some criticism for the high price of their thin, wafer-like chocolates. One food blogger didn't like the fact that their 4-piece "Vintages Collection" which costs $39, has such a high price-per-pound. Each quarter-sized, thin wafer weighs approximately seventy-five one-thousandths of an ounce. At this rate, the cost per pound of Noka's chocolates would be about $2,080. The "less expensive" gift boxes still come out to about $309 per pound. But in some ways this criticism misses the mark. After all, gourmet chocolate is a luxury, and if you choose to pursue the finest chocolate in the world, you are not likely to be worried too much about the price tag. The best costs a lot, and always has.
Chocopologie by Knipschildt -- $2,600 per pound
Chocopologie combines a haut-cuisine cafe with a shop that produces some of the finest and most expensive chocolate in the world. This small yet elegant establishment serves light fare morning to midnight, including specialty coffees and teas, and, of course, some of the finest chocolates in the United States. The cafe is decorated with unique vintage furniture and walls that are designed with brick and metal mesh. Chocopologie is both an ultra-high end chocolate kitchen and an unpretentious place to sit, relax, sip coffee and enjoy a light meal. And, of course, save room for dessert...