News and views about "healthy" chocolate seem to only get better (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-robbins/chocolates-startling-heal_b_825978.html) and what's more, some of the best chocolatiers are right in our midst--in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and (just a tad south) Chicago.
Let's start local with B.T. McElrath, out of Minneapolis: https://www.btmcelrath.com/index.asp. Offered by a number of Minnesota retailers, its shiny-as-if-buffed, refined candies can be discovered south of the metro Cities at ZZest Market & Wine Cafe, Rochester, Slant Avenue Mercantile, Laneboro, and Present Perfect, Northfield.
Fresh from Duluth, 185 Chocolat (http://185chocolat.com/links.html) is featured in Rochester at Sopra Sotto.
Our next door neighbor, Wisconsin, claims greatness with artisan dairy products and now can also pride itself on Candinas Chocolatier, made and sold only in the Madison area. (http://www.candinas.com/)
Traveling via the northern route around Lake Michigan, GG arrives in Fudge Country--but that's for another blog post. Here is Grocer's Daughter Chocolate, in Empire, Michigan. /http://www.grocersdaughter.com/ Then its on to truffle specialist The Chocolate Garden, Coloma: http://www.chocolategarden.com/
Last stop, all off, Chi-Town USA. Vosges Haut-Chocolat, popular for its bar chocolates, offers bittersweet-and-salty selections, among numerous concoctions that give tastebuds a sensory high: http://www.vosgeschocolate.com/?gclid=CIL02sW4nqcCFQgHbAodtXSQcQ Vosges is sold in Rochester at Zzest Market & Wine Cafe.
Ah, this was such a hard blog to post....The agony. GG indeed has tried candies from all of the makers listed here and can confidently state they are right up there (or close) with fine Belgian chocolates, yet they stand on their own in mix-it-up, witty American style. GG is undoubtedly missing some other splendid makers; please comment on your faves.