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Cuckoo for cocoa: Tasting the best new chocolates

Nov. 27, 2012 at 4:30 PM ET

Chocoholics, gather 'round! Lifestyle expert Sissy Biggers went to the first-ever Chicago Fine Chocolate Show and brought back the latest cocoa products you can eat, drink and even wear.

Fannie May

Fannie May has been manufacturing their products in Chicago since the 1920s, and they now have a “fancy” line of hand-crafted chocolates with great flavor profiles, from Double Shot Espresso to lemonade and candy apple.

Puffs of Doom

While Fanny May has been around for over 80 years, Puffs of Doom is part of the new generation of Chicago chocolatiers. A husband-and-wife team create these locally-made, artisanal cream puffs in more than 300 flavors with seasonal, local ingredients. They have a totally different look and taste than the cream puffs you’ll usually find at the bakery.

Dagoba Organic Chocolates

Dating back to 1400 B.C., chocolate was first consumed as a drink. Dagoba Organic Chocolates' cocoa powder is fair trade-certified, assuring consumers that this company supports a better life for cocoa-farming families. (Tip: Steep the cocoa powder in a Bodum coffee press for even better results.)

The Chocolate Shop's Chocolate Lover's Wine

Now you can drink chocolate as a traditional hot and frothy beverage AND in wine and spirits. The Chocolate Shop's Chocolate Lover’s Wine, a Seattle-based product, makes cocoa-flavored wines, so you can get your buzz on while indulging in a sweet treat. Pairing fine wine and chocolates in a bottle is an emerging trend, and provides a "gateway" wine for people in their 20s whose palates are still developing. Offerings include a threepack of Chocolate Red/Crème Cocoa and Strawberry Chocolate wines, and they’re even launching a sparkling red for the holiday season. (Tip: The red chocolate wine can be transformed into a red chocolate wine sauce, which is great for beef tenderloin or savory desserts.)

Casali

Casali’s chocolate-covered bananas and strawberries are all-natural fruit pastes covered in dark chocolate. Made in cute miniature fruit shapes, they look as good as they taste.

Flying Noir

Flying Noir products were developed by a female artist from Mendocino, Calif., who gave up making art during the recession and became a highly regarded, passionate purveyor of micro-batch artisan chocolates. She does it all herself, using fresh ingredients and single-origin organic chocolate. In addition to exquisitely painted bon bons, she also creates original paintings on chocolate tiles and small batches of drinking chocolate.

Sulpice Chocolat

Truffle bars that break into 15 pieces, Sulpice’s handcrafted artisan chocolates were inspired by the chocolate tradition of France's royal court and are tantalizing to the eye as well as the palate. Le Chocolat Noir is a stunning dark chocolate bar painted with abstract designs, and the Epice bar (with cinnamon, cayenne and chipotle-chili flavor) is a real showstopper.

Brix Chocolate

Move over, cheese: Brix Chocolate's gift sets are great for wine enthusiasts who love to do wine pairings and tastings. The sets come with two or three 4-ounce bricks of single-origin Ghanaian chocolate with a Brix-imprinted cutting board and knife to cut the chocolate like a hard a cheese into discreet, luscious bites. It’s the perfect gift for the entertainer or wine enthusiast on your list. The package is 16 oz. (four 4-oz. bars) and retails for $20 to $28.

Quail Point

Each of Quail Point’s artfully designed 12 Days of Christmas truffles depicts a line in the seasonal tune, from a partridge in a pear tree to 12 drummers drumming. For the very special chocolate lover, there’s a set of 12 boxes for the 12 days: 78 truffles in all! ($49.75, shipping begins on December 1.)

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