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Artisan Chocolate You Can Afford 10 delicious bars you can buy at Target, Walmart and more

Best inexpensive chocolate bars

Artisan Chocolate You Can Afford 10 delicious bars you can buy at Target, Walmart and more

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Move over beer. Step aside pickles. The latest run-of-the-mill staple to go hipster-gourmet is chocolate. I mean, just look at the $260 chocolate bar from To’ak. Yes, such a thing exists. And while it’s probably the expensive wooden box and tiny tweezers (tweezers?) you’re paying for, the truth is, chocolate has gone artisan and in doing so has become rather pricey. But that doesn’t mean it has to be.

Fancy chocolate has gotten so popular that you don’t have to venture to a boutique in Brooklyn to score quality bars. As I’ve discovered while working on my upcoming book about American craft chocolate makers, you can find artisan chocolate at your local Target, Walmart or grocery store. To prove it, I did a taste test (yeah, poor me) to find the best affordably priced chocolate in big-box stores near you.

Here are 10 amazing bars to satisfy your deepest cocoa craving.

BIG LABELS, BIG TASTE

When you think of good chocolate, the first brand that probably comes to mind is Godiva. And sure it’s popular, but as Mort Rosenblum says in Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light ($16.99 at Barnes & Noble), Godiva is more about “the box and not the chocolate.” However, there are a few mass producers out there making quality chocolate.

inexspensive dark chocolate bars

 

1. If you’re used to milk chocolate but are interested in the darker stuff, try:
Scharffen Berger’s 62 Percent Bar ($3.99 each at Drugstore.com)
Why: The lower percentage of cocoa means there’s more room for sweeteners and cocoa butter, which makes the bar rich, creamy and palatable.

2. If organic is more your style, try:
Green & Black’s Organic Dark Chocolate Bar ($3.49 each at Vitacost)
Why: Seventy percent is a solid amount of cocoa if you’re looking to come to the dark side.

3. For an intensely dark burst, try:
Ghirardelli’s Midnight Reverie ($2.89 at Target)
Why: This bar clocks in at 86 percent cacao, which is an awfully high amount. That means you probably only need a bite or two to curb your craving.

4. If you want a cool backstory with your beans, try:
Madécasse 70 Percent Dark Chocolate Madagascar Bar ($4.99 at Whole Foods)
Why: Started by two Peace Corps volunteers, Madécasse makes chocolate using beans in Africa. Considering that few makers are located in countries that grow cacao beans, this is pretty unusual.

 

BEAN TO BAR

Quick: Heineken or a craft lager from your local microbrewery? If you answered the latter, you’ll love bean-to-bar chocolate. Whereas many companies buy chocolate in bulk from a third party and melt it down into their own bars, “bean to bar” makers start with whole cacao beans and grind and smoothen them into a completely unique, high-end product.

Best inexpensive chocolate bars

1. If you want a fruity undertone, try:
Patric Chocolate’s 75 percent Madagascar bar ($13 at The Meadow)
Why: The beans come from a farm in Madagascar that is known for cacao with bright, fruity notes.

2. If you want to support direct trade, try:
Askinosie Chocolate 62 percent Dark Milk Chocolate + Fleur de Sel Sea Salt ($7.99 at Whole Foods)
Why: Askinosie Chocolate trades with farmers directly, paying them a high wage and creating outreach programs in countries like Tanzania and the Philippines.
Side note that will shock you: This bar is dark chocolate and includes milk. Although we usually think of these as mutually exclusive, there’s actually no established definition for “dark chocolate,” and many bean-to-bar makers are now creating dark milk chocolate bars. Mind. Blown.

3. If you want good-old bean-to-bar milk chocolate with a twist, try:
Raaka 60 percent Coconut Milk Chocolate Bar ($7.99 at Whole Foods)
Why: It’s completely vegan and organic and contains natural sugar instead of the white stuff. Also, the company doesn’t roast its beans, so the chocolate has an earthy flavor.

4. If you want chocolate done the Old World way:
Taza 80 Percent Stone-Ground Bar ($5.19 on LuckyVitamin.com)
Why: It provides a nice textural alternative to some of the other styles. The company makes chocolate in the Mexican style, grinding it roughly like the Aztecs and Mayans did hundreds of years ago.

 

A LITTLE SOMETHING EXTRA

With a good chocolate base, there’s no end to the interesting inclusions and flavor combinations. Makers throw everything from nuts to cayenne pepper in their bars to keep your palate guessing.

Best inexpensive chocolate bars

1. If you love a good caramel, try:
Lake Champlain Jamaican Rum–Filled Caramel Bar (10-pack for $34.95 at Walmart)
Why: It’s tricky to make chocolate caramels, so when you find a good one, grab it. Austin, Texas–based chocolatier Krystal Craig likes Lake Champlain’s because it “stands out in flavor and smoothness.”

2. If you want something truly unique, try:
Theo Fig Fennel & Almond Dark Chocolate ($7.29 at Amazon)
Why: Chocolate and almond isn’t a new combination, but Theo adds dried figs and a bite of fennel to the mix. The resulting crunch and chew is truly addictive.

 

Coupon tips from our editors banner

Target: Save $5 off $50 on select items and get free shipping on all orders.

Ghirardelli: Take 15% off any order.

Askinosie: Spend $50 and get free shipping.

Barnes & Noble: Through March 1, get 20% off one item.

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