Best chocolate shops in Phoenix, Scottsdale and Gilbert – The Arizona Republic


Some of the best chocolate in the world is made right here in metro Phoenix. Below is a list of the best artisanal chocolate shops, some of which have won national recognition and international awards. 
The chocolatiers don’t just make chocolate. They use excellent ingredients, many of which they source locally to create unique flavor profiles. What’s more is they source their beans ethically. 
Cacao farmers have long been exploited, forced to sell beans at unsustainably low prices, which in some cases, mean children forgo school to help on the farm in order to keep costs down. Purchasing Fair Trade cacao means that farmers are paid a Fairtrade Minimum Price for their goods. That safeguards farmers when market prices drop leading to greater stability. As consumers, it’s a chance to make a big difference. 
Each chocolatier on the list has a different reason for creating chocolate, some wanted to share their love of sweets, others needed a creative outlet and one just wanted to inspire people to meditate. 
Next time you’re looking for your cacao fix or the perfect gift, check out one of these artisan chocolate shops in metro Phoenix.
Husband and wife owners, Jim and Maureen Elitzak turned their love of chocolate into a small-batch bean-to-bar craft chocolate shop. They ethically source their beans and do everything by hand, from sorting the cacao beans to packaging. 
Since opening in 2015, their creations have garnered numerous national and international awards. In 2021, Food and Wine named them on their best chocolate in America list. 
All the products are free from soy, corn syrup and artificial flavors and they use only three ingredients in the dark chocolate: cacao beans, cocoa butter from the same beans and organic cane sugar, meaning it’s both vegan and gluten-free.
A must-try is their Sonoran white chocolate, a silver medal winner at the 2019 International Chocolate Awards.
In addition to bars, Zak’s offers a variety of bonbons with flavors like prickly pear, smoky star anise and mocha; brownie flights; drinking chocolates and other local goodies. The Eliztaks also teach the participants more about chocolate through private virtual events and in-person events. 
Details: 6990 E. Shea Blvd., Suite 116, Scottsdale. 480-607-6581, zakschocolate.com.
Where to buy: The store is currently closed for renovations, but you can order online for curbside pickup or have the chocolate shipped.
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Stone Grindz, small-batch, single-origin bean-to-bar and bean-to-truffle shop is the brainchild of self-taught chocolatiers and ASU grads Kasey McCaslin and Steve Shipler.
The two met while in collage and launched a farmers market business together in 2012, selling nut butters, raw nutrition bars, kale chips and chocolate. Eventually, they narrowed their offerings down to just chocolate.
Don’t let self-taught fool you into thinking they are amateurs. The pair have won multiple gold medals at the International Chocolate Awards, including in 2021 for their cappuccino and crystalized ginger bars and Suntory whiskey  and Asian pear caramels. The latter also won gold In 2019. 
Their Wild Bolivia bar appeared on Martha Stewart’s website’s list of 20 Chocolate Bars Perfect for Gifting
Details: stonegrindz.com.
Where to buy: Order online or visit them at Old Town Scottsdale, Uptown and Gilbert farmers markets. They ship anywhere within the United States. 
DNA Chocolate came to be inspired by the owner, Denae Hostetler’s travels to Oaxaca when she was in her 20’s, but not until after she had married and had two children and needed a creative outlet.  
Once she learned about the economic abuse of cacao farmers by major corporations, she resolved to source her beans directly from the farmers. 
Hostetler’s offerings consist of organic bars—single-origin, malted rice and coconut milk krispies, Golden Vegan, made with turmeric and cardamom— bonbons, brewing chocolate, cacao nibs and spreads. She creates her chocolate with two certified organic ingredients: cacao and cane or coconut sugar. 
Details: dnachocolate.com.
Where to buy: Order online or find them at Uptown and Downtown farmers markets and Main Street Harvest in Mesa. 
Creating chocolate was owner, Lisa Reinhardt’s way of encouraging people to meditate. After spending 11 years in Nepal, India and Tibet, studying meditation she returned to the United States with the goal of either teaching it or taking people on meditation trips.
But, she found that people felt intimidated by meditation. “So I thought, I’ll make this chocolate and tell them to let it melt in their mouths, they shift from an unconscious eating to a particular moment,” said Reinhardt. 
She researched the health benefits of chocolate and created organic, dairy-free, vegan, soy-free, gluten-free, GMO-free, Paleo-friendly and Rainforest Alliance-certified bars. 
Each bar has nine pieces engraved with symbols of earth, fire, water, wind and space and the letters for om, ah and hum to represent enlightened body, speech and mind. She also adds floral essences to all of her chocolates. 
The chocolates are presented in a beautiful, glossy square pouches in different colors. 
Whether you practice meditation or not, it’s worth trying these chocolates just for their flavors. Black Sesame and Himalayan pink salt in particular offer a perfect balance of sweet and salty with deep, rich chocolate flavor. 
Details: SAN (Self-Arising Nature) Center, 810 W. Bethany Home Road, Phoenix. 602-753-3216, weiofchocolate.com.
Where to buy: At SAN Center or online. 
The newest shop on this list is Embers by chef Tandy Peterson, former chef de partie at Cafe Bink and former executive at Mowry and Cotton. She also apprenticed at the Basque restaurant Asador Etxebarri, one of the World’s Top 50 restaurants. 
Peterson opened Embers in 2021 and now creates bean to bar chocolates from ethically sourced beans and uses local ingredients to “tell a stories through unique flavors.” 
The website divides her creations into a few categories: before the bar (cacao nibs); chocolate bars, many of which are vegan, in flavors like Sunflower and tahini white chocolate accented with miso pineapple, “honey’d” apple and black pepper; sugar-free bars, like butter pecan and strawberry fudge plus seasonal chocolate. A new addition is her sunflower chocolate butter with dates and freeze dried bananas. 
Details:  emberschocolate.com.
Where to buyPurchase online or find them at Chula Seafood Uptown, Hidden Track, Arcadia Premium and soon at Nelson’s Meat and Fish, Gastrome market, and Arcadia Meat Market. 
What to expect at Gastromé:A highly anticipated new luxury grocery store 
Noi, which means boy in Catalan, was created by Spanish pastry chef Alex Olmos Axelson in 2019. Axelson fell in love with chocolate early on and attended pastry school when he was 16. He now creates bars with local ingredients, including his most popular bar: salted toffee pistachio. Other flavors include candied Arcadia orange bar, red berries bar and chocolate covered salted corn nuts.
During the pandemic, Axelson created a Bianco bar in collaboration with Chris Bianco and Rene Andrade. Its purpose at the time was to raise funds for hospitality industry workers. The bar features Chiltepin peppers, Arizona pecans and dates and sea salt. 
Details: noicacao.square.site
Where to buy: Arcadia Meat Market, Worth Takeaway, Camelback Flowershop and at at Uptown farmers market starting in November. Check the website or Instagram @noicacao for more locations.
Owned by husband and wife team Lou and Denise Mirabella, Chocofin provides chocolate, desserts by the slice and ice cream. The Mirabellas started their business as wholesale operation before they added their retail store where they sell fair trade bean-to-bar chocolates, sugar-free Belgian chocolate truffles, brownies, coconut macaroons, barks, toffees and cookies. 
Some of the interesting truffles at Chocofin include Arizona orange, zinfandel, salt and pepper, passion fruit caramel and hot chili chocolates. 
Details: 13404 N. La Montana Dr., No. 2, Fountain Hills. 480-836-7444, chocofin.com.
Where to buy: Purchase directly from the store.
Husbands Miles Hunsaker and James White started M & J Chocolate Couture to make quality chocolate that honors the flavors of Southwest in Gilbert.
There are lots of options to choose from, like creamy truffles with citrus, horchata and peanut flavors; bars, such as salted pretzel and chocolate citrus; tiramisu, peanut chocolate and s’mores brownies; toffee and fudge. 
Details: Gilbert’s famers market at 222 N. Ash St., Gilbert. mjchocolatecouture.com.
Where to buy: Purchase at Gilbert’s farmers market or order online for delivery. 
You must try it:The most decadent riff on the ice cream sandwich 
Reach the reporter at BAnooshahr@azcentral.com. Follow @banooshahr on Twitter.

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