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Many travelers are aware of a location’s specialty. Like the wines of Bordeaux, the BBQ flavors of Korea or the wild salmon of Alaska. In Hawaii, a few notorious things come to mind- tropical fruits, fresh fish and shave ice. But the islands also have a variety of other artisanal items that rival places like San Francisco and Seattle. Like Big Island’s coveted Kona Coffee or Kauai’s gourmet sea salt.
Another product of interest that some Hawaii farmers specialize in is cacao, which is the bean-like seed from which chocolate is made. For all you chocolate lovers out there, you’ll be happy to know that Hawaii has some real decadence up its sleeve. Confectioners and chocolatiers can be found on every main island in Hawaii and most restaurants serve up indulgent chocolate desserts to satisfy their guests’ cravings.
So if you’re traveling to the islands and having to cope with a small case of chocoholism, rest assured you will have many options to get that fix! Here’s a list of the crème de la crème.
Madre Chocolate- Touted as the best ‘bean-to-bar’ chocolate in Hawaii, Madre Chocolate (located in Kailua) has won various awards for their products. With retails shops island-wide as well as on Maui, Madre has made a name for themselves as being some of the highest quality chocolate in Hawaii. Their products range from spicy to sweet to nutty and everything in between, and prices are anywhere from $6.50 a bar to $11. Madre also produces non-edible products such as perfume, soap and lip & body balm for those looking to really expand their chocolate obsession.
Roy’s chocolate soufflé- This dessert makes the list because it’s one of the best on the island, and most locals know it. With three locations on Oahu (Waikiki, Hawaii Kai & Ko Olina), I highly recommend stopping here to enjoy an after-dinner dessert with wine. This molten chocolate cake is the perfect satiation to your chocolate craving- a soft, moist crust on the outside with warm liquid chocolate on the inside, one stab with your spoon will have this chocolate volcano erupting in gooey goodness.
Kokoa Bar- This small chocolate shop is located within the lobby of The Queen Kapiolani Hotel on Kapahulu Avenue in Waikiki. They specialize in bon bons, with so many flavors it’s hard to just choose one or two! From chocoholic favorites like mousse and fudge to the more daring flavors of Hawaiian chili pepper and wild ginger, these bon bons are created with perfection right in the shop. You can even watch master chocolatiers as they mold the bon bons with their unique interior flavors, and learn how to make your own!
Fine Ass Brand- Famous for their Fine Ass Donkey Balls (interesting name, I know) this shop is tucked against the side of a mountain on Oahu’s northeast side in Ka‘a‘awa. All their chocolates are hand made in Hawaii using only fresh and natural ingredients, and chocolate products range from Dirty Balls, Salty Balls and Fire Balls to Nutty Delights and Fine Ass Dingleberries. If you visit their shop you’ll get a free sample and I guarantee you won’t be able to stop yourself from buying all the balls in the shop.
Kauai Chocolate Company- This chocolate shop on Kauai is located in Ele‘ele and is a locally owned and family operated business. They have unique items that resonate with the local vibes, like chocolate Opihis (Kauai Kookie shortbread layered with caramel and a macadamia nut and covered in milk or dark chocolate), Bento Boxes (an assortment of rice krispie mango sushi, fudge, opihi, truffles and more) and Island Fudge. Trekking out to this west side shop is worth it just for a taste of their Opihis.
Maui Specialty Chocolates- This company started off making custom chocolates for Maui’s luxury resort guests who wanted fresh, high quality chocolates from a local source. Since demand grew for these delicious chocolates, Maui Specialty Chocolates opened up a retail space in Kahului, which is the only place you an purchase the delicacies from. This shop is in the perfect location, right near the airport, so you can nab that chocolate fix as soon as you land on the Valley Isle.
Big Island Candies- One of the more widely recognized chocolate names in Hawaii, Big Island Candies’ headquarters is in Hilo but their products stretch statewide. Most popular for their Chocolate Dipped Macadamia Nut Shortbread Cookies, Big Island Candies specializes in local ingredients and high-grade chocolate. If you find yourself wanting to buy the store out of all its inventory, here’s a few recommendations: Peanut Butter Bars, Mika Mints and Hawaiian Crunchies.