William Leaman might be known for his twice-baked almond croissants, but since opening the first location in West Seattle back in 2006, the mega-accomplished baker has branched out into fine chocolates. Chocolate bars are made at the Burien flagship store, where Leaman roasts beans and tinkers with different flavor combinations like a modern-day Willy Wonka. It's fitting then that the bars from the Peacock Series are wrapped in gold foil. Standout varieties include the Bitter Nag, a 77 percent dark chocolate blend with nibs and sea salt; a brown butter bar topped with large slices of almonds; and the airy Praline Dream, which blends milk and dark chocolate with hazelnut gianduja—a grown-up take on Nutella.
Sure, you've heard of Fran's salted caramels and truffles. But when she started her chocolate company, Fran Bigelow was also dead set on making an adult candy bar (no, not like that). The resulting almond gold bar was actually the first Fran's product sold wholesale. Now there are four varieties—coconut, macadamia, peanut, and the aforementioned almond. Think of them as major upgrades to Mounds, Almond Joy, and Snickers bars. Palermo bars—dark chocolate topped with pistachios, almonds, cashews, dried apricot, cherries, and candied orange peel—also recently returned to Fran's retail stores. And for chocolate purists: gray salt, smoked salt, mint, and plain dark chocolate thins.
Over the past nine years, Indi Chocolate has transformed from a small cocoa butter lotion operation into an open-concept cafe and factory in Pike Place Market's view-laden new wing. And while founder Erin Andrews got her start in nontraditional chocolate making—lotions, soaps, chocolate teas, spice rubs, infusion kits, and more—single-origin chocolate bars are also on the roster. One with Ghanaian chocolate has vanilla, cream, and cashew tasting notes; Ecuadorian chocolate has a kick of ghost pepper. For those in search of something more low-key, dark chocolate inclusion bars are topped with crystallized ginger, cocoa nibs, or dried cherries (this is Seattle, after all). Bars are available online and in the retail store.
Excuse the pun, but Intrigue chocolatier Aaron Barthel really does make intriguing chocolate bars. There are no plain milk or dark chocolates here, but flavors like guajillo chili, hibiscus, cinnamon, and vanilla bean; jasmine green tea, bay leaf, and lemon; or rosemary, blackberry honey, and smoked sea salt. All bars have a 70 percent dark chocolate base—nothing too sweet to overpower the knockout ingredients. Grab a few—or truffles, hot cocoa mix, even flavored sugar—at Intrigue's Capitol Hill and Pioneer Square locations, online, or at Sugarpill and Anchorhead Coffee.
Seattle Chocolate has been repping the Pacific Northwest and its flavors since 1991, sourcing Turkish coffee from Joe's Garage Coffee, mint from Yakima, and toffee and biscotti from Woodinville. Its truffle bars don't just incorporate ingredients made in the PNW, but ones that embody it too, like Rainier cherry and San Juan sea salt. Though, truthfully, modern Seattle might best be represented by the "Here's Looking at You" bar, a dark chocolate riff on a mimosa, complete with popping candy and orange. The Jcoco spinoff brand has flavors from further afield, including black fig pistachio, edamame sea salt, and agave quinoa sesame. An added bonus: Seattle Chocolate donates to its food bank partners for every Jcoco bar sold.
Fed up with the overabundance of sea salt caramels, Alexander Lóng turned his chocolate-making hobby into a full-time job and opened Seleušs a block up from Pike Place Market. Tucked into the Thompson Hotel, the cozy shop (read: there's a fireplace) makes chocolate for people serious about chocolate. No gimmicks. No sea salt caramels. Lots of truffles and straight-forward bars, like a 74 percent dark chocolate, both plain and topped with nibs for extra crunch. Most noteworthy, though, is the blonde bar, with its buttery texture and almost butterscotch-like flavor, sweet but not cloyingly so. Made using the Maillard reaction—reducing sugar at a low temperature over a prolonged period—each batch takes Lóng an entire week to make. And it's so worth it.
You can get your hands on products from Seattle's most recognized chocolate company just about anywhere in the city, whether at its Fremont factory and shop, grocery stores, or even squished into a Mackles'more cookie at Hello Robin. Theo doesn't just make crowd-pleasing bars—like salted almond, freeze-dried raspberry, and cinnamon horchata—but also leads the industry in organic and fair trade practices. The milk chocolate Seattle Bar is perfect for traditionalists, but there are plenty of whimsical flavors to be had too: buttery bread crumbs encased in dark chocolate, grapefruit ginger, and salted black licorice. Insider's tip: They hand out tons of samples on the $10 tour—and it's as close as you'll get to living out Roald Dahl's classic book (minus the giant blueberry accident and Oompa Loompas).