Complete Chocolate Lover’s Guide for the San Francisco Bay Area

3 bonbons in boxes

White chocolate gems


A few little delights were discovered in this year’s competition

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The 2023 Best White Chocolate competition was a smaller affair this year and for me it was even smaller because I didn’t get to sample all of the entries. Unfortunately some competitors did not submit enough samples for all of the judges to try 🥲 but of the ones I did get I found some to recommend.


There was only one local white chocolate contestant this year — but their entries were super good so I was delighted.

aL chocoLat Boutique

First time competitor aL chocoLat Boutique, Los Gatos, made quite an impression on Cacaopod and me in this competition with 3 white chocolate based truffles. The beautifully decorated pieces had interesting fillings that were just as intricate. They were delicious too.

Karabeej bonbon
Karabeej bonbon

The Karabeej was a green dome with white speckles on top and a gold and brown band around the bottom. Inside the white shell a marshmallow lay on top of a golden ganache with bits of pistachio in it which itself was on top of a layer of graham cracker.

The graham cracker and pistachio gave the piece a tiny crunch which was a nice contrast to the soft marshmallow. The piece tasted lightly pistachio and mostly creamy white chocolate. It was a good subtle piece that I rated 4 stars.

It racked up awards in the competition winning Gold for Best Ingredient Combinations, Best Taste, and Best Texture; and Honorable Mentions for Most Unique and Best White Chocolates. It rated 4.5 stars.

Dulce de Leche bonbon
Dulce de Leche bonbon

Their second submission, Dulce de Leche, was my personal fav of the whole competition. It was cute: The dome was painted half blue and half white with a silver and black dotted band bisecting the dome.

The dome was a dark chocolate shell on top of a white chocolate bottom full of black sesame seeds. It was filled with a marscapone cream with a dot of caramelized milk in the soft creamy cheese. I could smell the marscapone and it was the first flavor, then caramel plus the savory sesame seeds. It had a nice small crunch from the seeds. I gave it the highest rating: 5 stars.

aL chocoLat Boutique Dulce de leche won Gold for Best Taste and Best Texture, and Bronze for Best Ingredient Combinations. It rated 4.5 stars.

Lemon Cheesecake bonbon
Lemon Cheesecake bonbon

Their final submission, Lemon Cheesecake, had swashes of different yellows painted over the dome. Inside the white shell were 3 layers: lemon curd on top of cream cheese on top of a cookie layer.

The first taste was creamy milk, then very lemony, then a little cream cheese tang, all with a soft cookie crunch. I rated it 4 stars.

Like all of their entries aL chocoLat Boutique’s Lemon Cheesecake got lots of recognition receiving Silver for Best Ingredient Combinations, Best Texture, Most Unique, and Best White Chocolates; and Bronze for Best Taste. It rated 4.5 stars.

You can buy aL chocoLat Boutique bonbons online and at special events. Visit their website for more info.


In addition to aL chocoLat Boutique’s stunning submissions, there were a few others I thought were special.

Stella’s Confectionery

Competition veteran, Stella’s ConfectioneryMilwaukee, WI, submitted a single bar to this competition and a couple of bars to this year’s toffee competition and I recommend them all.

Stella’s Citron Blanc bar
Stella’s Citron Blanc bar

Stella’s white chocolate entry, the Citron Blanc bar was one of their signature square bars with the white chocolate painted in a yellow ombre pattern. The bar was filled with a light brown ganache and had a light chocolatey/ citrus aroma.

The bar started out creamy tasting then a little lemony turning slightly bitter at end. It had a very light texture that melted away quickly. I rated it 4 stars.

Stella’s Confectionery Citron Blanc won Gold for Best White Chocolates, and received Honorable Mentions for Best Ingredient Combinations, Best Taste, Best Texture, and Most Unique. It rated 4.5 stars.

You can find Stella’s chocolate bars and other confections at a few stores across the country. Check their website for locations.

Panache Chocolatier

Veteran competitor, Panache ChocolatierLeawood, KS, submitted 2 of their big round bonbons to this competition.

Spring Mint bonbon
Spring Mint bonbon

The one I liked best, Spring Mint, had a white chocolate shell drizzled in white chocolate and finished with some red and green sprinkles. Cacaopod said it looked like a cake pop — maybe he was exaggerating a little but Panache bonbons are definitely on the large side.

The white chocolate ganache infused with rose, lavender, and mint was interesting, tasting a little like toothpaste but better. It wasn’t overly floral instead it started lightly fruity —reminding me of strawberry rhubarb — then ending as mint. If it had been less sweet I would have given it my highest rating. As is I rated it 4 stars.

Panache Chocolatier White Chocolate #1 Spring Mint received an Honorable Mention for Best Texture. It rated 3.5 stars.

Warm Vanilla Grapefruit bonbon
Warm Vanilla Grapefruit bonbon

The Warm Vanilla Grapefruit was a pretty light pink bonbon with golden sugar sprinkles. The pink came from ruby chocolate mixed into the white chocolate which I thought was a good use of ruby chocolate —a little ruby for color and maybe a little berry tartness (ruby on its own looks more gray and the taste is not chocolatey at all to me).

Inside was a white chocolate ganache infused with vanilla and grapefruit. It smelled and tasted mostly vanilla. A too sweet grapefruit flavor came second turning a little bitter. I liked the grapefruit and vanilla aftertaste, and rated it 3 stars.

Panache Chocolatier White Chocolate #2 Warm Vanilla Grapefruit received Honorable Mentions for Best Texture and Most Unique. It rated 3.5 stars.

Panache Chocolatier has an online store. You can also visit their store in Leawood.

MFG Toffee & Bark Co.

New competitor MFG Toffee & Bark Co. of Baltimore, MD, made a good impression on me with their Breton Salted Caramel Latte Toffee. It was a thin, pretty toffee with marbled dark and white chocolate on both sides — it would make a good gift for your coffee toffee lovers.

Breton Salted Caramel Latte Toffee
Breton Salted Caramel Latte Toffee

The Breton Salted Caramel Latte Toffee had a good coffee aroma and immediate coffee taste. It was a crunchy toffee that ended a little chewy and a little salty. I rated it 4 stars.

MFG Toffee & Bark Company Breton Salted Caramel Latte won Gold for Best Ingredient Combinations and Best Texture, Silver for Best Taste, and Honorable Mentions for Most Unique and Best White Chocolates. It rated 4 stars.

You can buy MFG Toffee & Bark Co. confections online.

Delysia Chocolatier

My final recommended entry came from competition veteran, Delysia ChocolatierAustin, TX. While they submitted 3 truffle entries, I liked the Praline Peanut Spiced Chocolate Truffle best.

Praline Peanut Spiced Chocolate Truffle
Praline Peanut Spiced Chocolate Truffle

Like all Delysia truffles, it was a square bonbon packed in a square red box tied with a white ribbon.  The package is simple but attractive and the white chocolate square looked pretty too with a brush mark decal in colors on the red side of the spectrum.

Also like most Delysia truffles it had a super thick top shell but this time the bottom was whisper thin. I understand that sometimes shells need to be thick — like when they have a liquid filling you don’t want leaking out, or you need the outer chocolate to be in a different ratio with a stronger filling — but Delysia seems to just always make thick shells. To me it’s along the lines of taking a bug and making it a feature.

Delysia truffle cross section
Delysia truffle cross section

Since this time they made the bottom shell thinner I’m hoping they’ve got religion and will start thinning out the rest of the shells because whoee! Those shells are thick. Okay, end of rant 😅

The Praline Peanut Spiced Chocolate Truffle smelled like peanut butter so it was off to a good start in my book. It had a little caramelized crunch at first and started off with a sweet peanut taste. The peanut praline filling had good sized pieces of roasted peanuts which helped balance the sweetness. A little heat appeared after the sweet peanut then a creamy white chocolate flavor. The whole time the heat built up and lingered afterwards but it was never hot.

The description said it had caramelized white chocolate infused with a shot of espresso and a white chocolate/roasted peanut spread topped off by cayenne pepper. I didn’t taste espresso — maybe it needed 2 shots — but I got the other flavors. I rated it 4 stars.

Delysia Chocolatier Praline Peanut Spiced Truffle won Gold for Most Unique and Bronze for Best Ingredient Combinations and Best Texture. It rated 4 stars.

Delysia chocolates are available online and at their shop in Austin.


While not my favs, the following 2 entries were interesting, well made, and worthy of mention.

The Toffee Merchant

Limoncello Toffee
Limoncello Toffee

Return competitor, The Toffee Merchant, Phoenix, AZ, submitted a white chocolate toffee in both this competition and the toffee competition. I reviewed it in the toffee article so I won’t repeat here except to say their Limoncello Toffee was a very good toffee — if you like bitter lemon. I’m more of a Meyer lemon person so I can’t give it my strongest recommendation but it’s good and I rated it 3 stars.

The Toffee Merchant Limoncello Toffee received Bronze for Best Ingredient Combinations and Best Texture. It rated 4.5 stars.

While the Limoncello Toffee isn’t available for sale yet, you can order their other toffees including ones from a previous competition on their website.

Baetz Chocolates

Finally repeat competitor, Baetz Chocolates, Edmonton, AB, submitted a single truffle, but it was a worthy entrant. Baetz tends to win awards for most unique in these competitions, and this latest one is a good example of why.

Let’s start with the visuals: The Mango Monument was a tall triangular cone — I haven’t seen that shape before — Cacaopod said it looked like a cone of incense. It was brightly painted in pink, red, orange, and yellow splashes.

Mango Monument’s ingredient list
Mango Monument’s ingredient list

Inside the white chocolate shell was a filling with a long ingredient list including shea butter?! Like moisturizer? Illipe butter? I had to look that one up. Also a moisturizer! I think Baetz should submit an artist statement like you see at art exhibits explaining what their intent was in creating the piece and shedding light on decisions that went into the piece because this feels like some sort of modern art that requires some understanding to appreciate.

Baetz’s Mango Monument
Baetz’s Mango Monument — notice the visible cacao nibs at bottom left

Other ingredients were more usual: Mango, mango powder, cacao nibs, passion fruit powder, coconut oil, citric acid — all recognizable foodstuffs. And it was kinda cool that I could see some nibs under the white chocolate shell.

Inside the piece were 2 layers: a solid yellow orange and a cream colored one studded with nibs. It smelled like passion fruit which was the bottom layer. The top layer was mango and by itself it tasted like mango sherbet.

When eaten together the whole piece had a good tropical flavor. I liked the nibs at first but there were too many so they tasted a little bitter. I rated the piece 3 stars.

Of course Baetz Chocolates Mango Monument won Gold for Most Unique. It also received Silver for Best Texture and an Honorable Mention for Best Ingredient Combinations. It rated 4 stars.

Baetz Chocolates doesn’t currently have a website or storefront. Visit their Facebook page for the latest info on how to try their chocolates.

Want more?

You can see the full list of this year’s winners on the Chocolate Salon site. Since some of the entries missing from my box didn’t make it onto the winners list I don’t mind that I didn’t get to try them. But I do wish I could’ve tried Phillip Ashley’s entry — I’ve been liking his chocolates more and more and was interested to see what he’s been doing lately. In fact even without trying his entry I’m going to recommend at least checking out his online shop.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Published June 4, 2023