With four NYC locations, La Maison du Chocolat started at 71st and Madison and is known for custom brown (coffret) boxes that hold anywhere between two and 144 ganaches. Other boxes are color-coded, like aqua for truffles and green for vegan. These are French-style, so don’t expect them to be as sweet as Swiss, which are more milk-based. But it’s fun to try vegan and dairy versions of the same flavor to see which has the stronger taste.
La Maison really is a house of chocolates and gets huge bonus points for having a small cafe in the back where you can try their two different hot chocolate options, Guayaquil and Caracas. The latter is the richer of the two with a more intense flavor. There’s also a cafe at the Rockefeller Center location. Beyond that, they have chocolate macarons and perfectly balanced chocolate ice cream with small, crunchy cacao nibs.
What to try: Fruit Naturally Vegan Gift Box
Where to try: 1018 Madison Ave. (also in Time Warner Center, Plaza Food Hall and Rockefeller Center)
A relative newcomer to the NYC chocolate scene, Läderach is a third-generation Swiss company that dates back to 1962. In 2018, Elias Läderach became the first Swiss chocolatier to win the World Chocolate Masters in Paris. While all of the NYC chocolate boutiques on this list are exquisite, Läderach takes it to a new level with the human-size rotating cacao bean in the middle of their flagship 5th Avenue store.
The large chocolate bars visible from the street are called FrischSchoggi, and the friendly staff will break them down to a size of your choosing, or you can buy sampler bags (regular or vegan, which are cashew-milk based) with small cuts from 10 of the 26 options. Most are heavily-infused with nuts or dried fruit. The smooth strawberry-curd white is worth getting on a plane for, especially when you take a bite with a large strawberry chunk.While there are some single-origin bars, the house blend is a mix of cacao from four different countries. Shipments come weekly from German-speaking Switzerland.
What to try: FrischSchoggi Strawberry-Curd White
Where to try: 537 5th Ave. (flagship store), 731 Lexington Ave. and 745 7th Ave.
At MarieBelle’s flagship SoHo boutique, you’ll find 22 different ganaches, as well as confections that only an artist can conjure up. The intricate patterns on the chocolate ganaches are transferred by hand in Brooklyn, so detailed that biting into one can feel like destroying a treasured piece of art. The New York collection is available all year and includes icons from MarieBelle’s adopted city, like the Brooklyn Bridge, yellow cabs and the Empire State Building.
In addition to ganaches, MarieBelle is also known for hot chocolate. You can try different variations in the high-ceiling, backroom cacao bar, including the popular 62% dark Aztec, which made the list of “Oprah’s Favorite Things.” Whether you just want to sample some ganaches or opt for the elaborate afternoon tea, a speakeasy vibe gives MarieBelle the edge for the best chocolate boutique cafe.
MarieBelle has a small store inside The Kitano Hotel New York, and you can also buy select boxes at some BuzzFeed airport convenience stores, including the one in LGA Terminal C. While the holiday season is the best time to check out the main store, you can take comfort in knowing that cooler bags are available for purchase all year and are free with orders of $200 or more.
What to try: The New York Chocolate Ganache Blue Box
Where to try: 484 Broome St. or The Kitano Hotel New York
At ROYCE’, everything is flown in from Japan, and offerings vary from season to season. The best-selling nama chocolates come as close to melting in your mouth as chocolates can, thanks to Hokkaido fresh cream. If you’ve never had these Japanese chocolates, the butter-like texture can come as a surprise, as they are meant to replicate the inside of a truffle. Boxes include 20 easily separated bite-sized pieces that are finished with a layer of cocoa powder, which you can easily scoop up with the small tasting pick that comes in the box. Other notable options include chocolate-dipped potato chips, matcha wafers and the Kit Kat-like Bar Chocolate.
If you happen to live west of the Hudson River, ROYCE’ also has a location at Mitsuwa Marketplace in Edgewater, New Jersey. As nama and truffles are meant to be refrigerated, each purchase comes with a small ice pack, which rests against the 20-piece box in a custom blue ROYCE’ cooler bag. They should be stored at 50 degrees or below.
What to try: Champagne Pierre Mignon nama (or cherry blossom during the season)
Where to try: 32 W 40th St.
If you don’t think vegan chocolates can be just as delicious and decadent as non-vegan, try Sweet Vegan. Chef Andrea Young is an Indianapolis native and interior designer by trade. Her training came from being the oldest of five children and cooking for her siblings.
Espresso, ginger, passion fruit and lemon are the four year-round flavors. The latter is Andrea’s favorite, and you can taste the citrus within two seconds of biting into it — the sweetness of the rice milk and cacao butter mix perfectly with the freshly squeezed Meyer lemon. You don’t have to guess any of the flavors, especially ginger.
Sweet Vegan offers pre-packaged boxes, as well as the option to create your own. The pickup location is in Morningside Heights, and you’ll need to make arrangements in advance.
What to try: Luscious Lemon
Where to try: 414 W. 121st St.
Thierry Atlan started as a pastry chef before pivoting to chocolate after becoming allergic to flour, and he’s one of just 26 to hold the prestigious Meilleur Ouvrier de France Chocolatier title. In 2010, his chocolate consulting business (yes, that’s a job) brought the Troyes native to New York City, and in 2015, Thierry and his daughter, Julie, started their own chocolate brand and opened the Soho boutique on West Broadway in 2022.
You can mix and match the bonbons and caramel domes in the store — there are five of the latter and 12 of the former, with passion fruit and sea salt as the top-selling caramels. Thierry prefers the fresh fruit-infused dark chocolate raspberry bonbon, while milk feuilletine is Julie’s favorite. The feuilletine has a thin layer of wafer crepe inside, and milk chocolate rocher is the most popular. All chocolate boxes come with a small card with a QR code listing the flavors.
What to try: passion fruit caramel dome
Where to try: 436 West Broadway