The Boston area is home to quite a few talented chocolatiers with a knack for creating bonbons, truffles, and other treats that are just as beautiful as they are delicious, making gift-giving a breeze for any occasion.
Here are some of Greater Boston’s excellent chocolatiers and chocolate shops to check out for holidays or any old day. Some have their own storefronts; others you’ll have to catch at a pop-up or make a special order. Either way, it’s worth the effort.
Founder Alexandra Whisnant is a Cambridge native whose culinary path has taken her to pastry school at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, an internship at French macaron superstar Ladurée, and stints at Recchiutti Confections and Chez Panisse in California. For her own chocolate business, she makes small batches of impeccable bonbons — particularly ganaches and pralinés — featuring seasonal and often local ingredients, from raspberries to honey to foraged rose petals. Her Somerville storefront also serves a selection of desserts, including ultra-rich mousse and the best brownies in town. She’s also the co-owner of a cellphone-free wine and dessert bar in Cambridge that debuted in 2021, Zuzu’s Petals.
In the early pandemic days, Betty Petrova, who was working at Uni, began making eye-catching bonbons and other chocolate treats, selling small batches of intriguing flavors via Instagram for local pickup and delivery. (Think Thai basil limeade, Mandarin cookie, Kentucky bourbon caramel, and lots more.) Since then, the business has grown substantially, and chocolate lovers can always find something available in Petrova’s online shop, which offers shipping as well as local pickup at occasional area pop-ups. In addition to bonbons, there are often truffles, bars, and more.
24 Gary Rd., Needham (by appointment only)
Online shop (shipping and local pickup available)
Another pandemic-born business, Needham-based ChocAllure is the brainchild of Liron Pergament-Gal, who quit her job as a cybersecurity executive to open her chocolate shop. (She trained at École Lenôtre in Paris and the Barry Callebaut chocolate academy in Chicago.) Her artsy, modern-looking bonbons and bars come in flavors like hot chocolate and marshmallow; lemon meringue pie; mango, passionfruit, and hazelnut; and black forest.
Regarded as one of the area’s best chocolate-makers over the past decade-plus, EHChocolatier was founded by Elaine Hsieh and Catharine Sweeney in 2010 and used to be hidden away inside a Somerville factory. Since 2019, though, EHChocolatier has boosted its visibility with an easier-to-find storefront in Cambridge, where the duo turns out countless bonbons, bars, caramels, truffles, and more. Whatever the holiday, there are sure to be special treats available; the chocolate is serious business, but design-wise, EHChocolatier has plenty of fun with it. (Custom corporate, wedding, and event gifts are available, too.) Vegans, take note: EHChocolatier offers a pretty wide variety of dairy-free options.
Cirque du Soufflé
Online shop (shipping and local pickup available)
Somerville-based chocolatier and pastry chef T Lawrence-Simon — who competed on season one of Great Chocolate Showdown — also works as an aerial circus performer, hence his business name. As such, expect lots of bright colors and whimsy in his gorgeous desserts, which include custom cakes and cupcakes, afternoon tea packages, chocolate confections, and more. (Bonbons and other chocolate confections are typically only available in colder months, but keep an eye on the Cirque du Soufflé Instagram account for updates, or contact Lawrence-Simon for information on custom treats.)
Online shop (shipping and local pickup available [in Boston’s South End])
With a background in advertising, designing, and art, chocolatier Lisa Costanzo first waded into the world of chocolates through local workshops, creating treats for friends and family and making custom confections for her brother’s restaurant. Later, she continued her chocolate education through various means, including the professional chocolatier program at Ecole Chocolate. Costanzo focuses on organic and local ingredients when possible. Watch for holiday collections and monthly boxes of bonbons in a variety of flavors. The May 2022 box, for example, includes lemon violet and elderflower meringue; hibiscus and vanilla bean dark chocolate ganache; honey lavender caramel; and orange blossom caramel and coconut.
Confections by Carly
Online shop (local pickup available [in Chestnut Hill and Longwood Medical Area])
This local chocolatier is another without a storefront; she creates her treats in a licensed kitchen in Chestnut Hill. Confections by Carly offers online ordering and various local pickup options for attractive bonbons, chocolate lollipops, popping snack bars, and more. Watch for fun shapes like anatomical hearts (good for Halloween and Valentine’s Day).
More Local Chocolate Shops to Explore
Oldies but goodies
Established in 1987, L.A. Burdick is a small chain of chocolate shops, two of which are in Greater Boston. The hot chocolate is a must, and Burdick’s delicate little chocolate mice and penguins are always delightful gifts. Most Bostonians also know that Beacon Hill Chocolates is a reliable destination to find interesting goodies sourced worldwide, from boozy truffles to bars in unique flavors. And south of the city, Hilliards Chocolates has been holding down the fort for close to a century. These days, find locations in North Easton, Norwell, and Mansfield, offering a huge range of chocolate barks, turtles, fudge, mints, and lots more.
Nuts and chocolates galore
In Watertown, Fastachi has been offering a wide variety of roasted nuts, dried fruits, nut butters, chocolates, and more for years. For a similar mix of options in Jamaica Plain or Newton Highlands, try Cacao, an ode to founder Leo Baez’s childhood in the Dominican Republic, picking snacks off cashew trees on the walk home from school. (Cacao is also a local favorite for hot chocolate.)
So much Somerville
In addition to the Somerville chocolatiers highlighted above, the city is the birthplace of Taza Chocolate, which is practically a household name these days, having been around for over 15 years and distributing its stone-ground discs of chocolate and other products, made using direct trade cacao, nationwide. There’s also Somerville Chocolate, a decade-old self-described bean-to-bar chocolate CSA which focuses on small batches of bars, primarily featuring dark chocolate.
And a couple highlights farther north
Salem-based Harbor Sweets has been on the scene for close to five decades, showcasing nautical-themed chocolates like its first and best-known creation, Sweet Sloops — sailboat-shaped almond butter crunch that’s covered in white chocolate and dipped in dark chocolate and crushed pecans. Meanwhile in Amesbury, a much newer company, M Cacao, is making a name for itself with creative takes on bars, caramels, and more — and a particular interest in the very spicy.
A little bit naughty
(Warning: Photos at any links in this section might be considered somewhat not safe for work.) Sweet-N-Nasty has sadly closed up its Back Bay boutique, which was filled with an impressive array of R-rated cupcakes, chocolates, bachelor/bachelorette party decorations, and more. But the erotic bakery is still thriving as an online business for whenever you need chocolates in the shape of “big ol’ booties,” “busty babes,” handcuffs, and, well, “Mr. Average.” Follow along on Facebook to peek at custom cakes people are ordering, too.