AAA Magazines

9 artisanal chocolatiers who can help with Valentine’s Day

Vermont’s Lake Champlain Chocolates is one of several regional purveyors of sweets for Valentine’s Day or any other time of the year. Photo courtesy Lake Champlain Chocolates

Whether you like milk chocolate or dark, filled candies or solid bars, new flavors or old standbys, Northern New England offers plenty of high quality, locally made treats to satisfy any sweet tooth. Ahead of Valentine’s Day, here are 9 shops to consider for your—or your honey’s—next chocolate fix.

Jump to: Maine | New Hampshire | Vermont


1. Bixby Chocolate, Rockland

Chocolate shaped like a lobster.

What could be more Maine than a 1-pound dark chocolate lobster from Bixby Chocolate in Rockland? Photo by Katie Kelley

Tucked into a former ice plant in the town’s working marina, Kate McAleer’s chocolate wonderland embraces candy that McAleer says is “good for you.” By incorporating nuts, fruit, and high-quality Rainforest Alliance–certified chocolate, she proudly creates bars, bonbons, and other sweets that you can feel virtuous about enjoying. She even offers gluten-free, kosher, organic, and soy-free options.

A 1-pound dark chocolate lobster or apple cider caramels—or a box of champagne truffles or pistachio-and-cranberry-studded chocolate hearts might make the perfect gift for your special someone. Closed Sundays.

You may also like: 5 waterfront New England spots for a romantic winter weekend

2. Byrne & Carlson, Kittery

From the counter at this gourmet shop, you can look into the production space as chocolatiers dip each truffle in silky smooth ganache.

Single-source bars, such as the Madagascar 64 and Guanaja, highlight the different flavors imparted by the terroir of each cacao-growing region. Embedded pansies, crunchy milk-chocolate pearls, and candied violets make several of Byrne & Carlson’s offerings almost too beautiful to eat.

You may also like: 6 crave-worthy chocolate shops in Northern New England

3. Len Libby Candies, Scarborough

Boxes of lemon zest bark.

One of the newer items at Len Libby Candies in Scarborough, Maine, combines lemon zest with chocolate and powdered sugar. Photo courtesty Lin Libby

What’s the first thing visitors notice when entering this nearly century-old shop? Lenny, the 1,700-pound life-size chocolate moose watching over the candy displays. As if to make Willy Wonka jealous, Len Libby stocks almost any sweet treat you can imagine.

Stock up on jellybeans, taffy, all sorts of licorice, and Maine’s state candy: the Needham, a chocolate-covered coconut-and-potato concoction that some compare to a Mounds bar with more body. (Many Maine candymakers also use potatoes in their Needhams, but Len Libby’s does not.) Truffles, bark, and double-dipped pretzels tempt you from the display counter, where you can buy single pieces or candy by the pound. Closed Sundays.

You may also like: 9 factory tours in New England

New Hampshire

4. Burdicks, Walpole

The New Hampshire location of this chocolatier is reminiscent of an old-time ice cream parlor. At small tables arranged throughout the shop, you can enjoy a decadent hot chocolate (with whipped cream, please!) or savor some luscious confectionary creations.

Larry Burdick studied the art of chocolate-making in Switzerland. He created the company in 1987 with the goal of making “chocolate confections that could truly be called chocolate” he says, instead of selling mass-produced candies.

Today, his confectionary kitchen is known for fine candies and whimsical offerings such as milk- and dark-chocolate elephants, mice, and penguins housed in petite wooden crates, complete with a wax seal. You can also find Burdicks in Chicago, New York, Washington, D.C., and the Boston area.

5. The Chocolatier, Exeter

Nestled in the center of this quintessentially New England town, this traditional chocolate shop offers mix-and-match truffles and other chocolate-covered goodies by the pound. You can stick with the standard peanut butter, mint, or coconut-filled truffles, or branch out into new territory by trying chocolates filled with key lime or chili cream.

You can also find prefilled bags of gummy bears (both plain and chocolate covered), spice drops, and house-made bridge mix. The creamy, smooth chocolate coating is sure to keep you coming back for more.

You may also like: 9 Northern New England makers with exquisite creations

6. Van Otis Chocolates, Manchester

Tray of chocolate-covered strawberries.

Van Otis Chocolates in Manchester, New Hampshire will dip strawberries in your choice of milk, dark, or white chocolate.  Photo courtes Van Otis Chocolates

This chocolate shop’s large, airy showroom has welcomed customers since 2002, though the business sold its first candy under the Van Otis name in 1958. Because the shop stocks such a wide selection, consider allowing the staff to help select the perfect mix of truffles, turtles, and homemade caramels.

Don’t forget Van Otis’ famous melt-in-your-mouth Swiss fudge. You’ll also find novelty treats including Oreo cookie–coated pretzels, chocolate-coated Twinkies, and a cute gift-boxed purse made entirely of chocolate. Closed Sundays (except for the runup prior to major holidays).

You may also like: Manchester and other winter getaways in Northern New England


7. Farmhouse Chocolates, Bristol

Chocolate bar studded with strawberry and pollen.

Fennel pollen and strawberry is one of several organic fair-trade bar varieties at Farmhouse Chocolates in Bristol, Vermont. Photo by Eliza La Rocca

When Erlé LaBounty made his first truffle at his grandfather’s house at the age of 16, he had no idea it would lead to his life’s work. At their production kitchen and factory store in the heart of the Green Mountains, he and partner Eliza La Rocca now craft organic, fair-trade, hand-rolled truffles, chocolate bars, and delectable chocolate-covered burned-butter caramels sprinkled with just the right amount of sea salt.

The couple carefully curates bar flavors such as orange and Alaska sea salt, fennel pollen and strawberry, and cardamom and lemon. In our busy world, the pair sees their chocolate as “an invitation to slow down.” Weekend hours vary.

 8. Lake Champlain Chocolates, Burlington

Visitors at the counter inside Lake Champlain Chocolates.

Vermont’s Lake Champlain Chocolates recently renovated its flagship store in Burlington’s South End Arts District.  Photo courtesy Lake Champlain Chocolates

A mainstay among local Vermont businesses, this popular confectioner continues to grow, recently upgrading its flagship factory store on Pine Street and opening a location in Stowe. The Lampman family, which founded and still runs the company, focuses on the “pursuit of extraordinary chocolate moments” while also striving to ensure sustainable practices.

The certified B Corporation sources as many of its ingredients from non-GMO, organic, and fair trade–certified sellers as it can to strengthen economic and social systems both in Vermont and in cacao-growing regions.

The renovated factory shop features customer favorites—Five Star Bars, caramel clusters, almond butter crunch, and limited-edition special chocolates—as well as the factory seconds section and a new pastry counter and hot chocolate bar.

You may also like: Burlington and other winter destinations for families

9. Tavernier Chocolates, Brattleboro

Chocolate bars embedded with various ingredients including nuts and dried fruit.

Tavernier Chocolates in Brattleboro, Vermont, gilds its chocolate with ingredients from the Connecticut Valley. Photo by Clare Barboza

What does Vermont taste like? When Dar Tavernier-Singer and her husband, John Singer, started their chocolate business in 2014, they sought to answer that question by incorporating the flavors of the Connecticut Valley region in their creations.

Their work with area foragers and locally sourced ingredients shines through in their chocolates, whether in the earthiness of their black trumpet, porcini rosemary, and chantarelle truffles or in the sweetness of their Queen Bee Cups, featuring honey from the nearby Singing Cedars Apiaries.

Working in small batches, the couple seeks to ensure that each chocolate delivers a true taste of the Green Mountain State. Closed Mondays–Thursdays.

Pamela Hunt, a freelance writer in Burlington, Vermont, writes regularly for AAA publications.

You may also like:

Follow us on Instagram

Follow @AAAAutoClubEnterprises for the latest on what to see and do.

Read more articles

You'll find more of the articles you love to read at AAA Insider.

AAA discounts

Seared scallops arranged on a plate

Dining & food discounts

Save at restaurants and on meal-kit delivery services.

Woman pumping gas

All AAA discounts

AAA membership unlocks savings on everyday purchases.

back to top icon