Kitchen Tips

6 New Zealand-made craft chocolates that make the perfect gift

If you’re stuck on a gift for a loved one, the chocolate aisle is usually the first port of call. But rather than picking any old block of choc off the shelf, why not opt for one that has been made with love, care and precision in Aotearoa?

By Harriet Keown
There's arguably no better gift than a box of chocolate - it's convenient, affordable and almost guaranteed to be enjoyed. But when it comes to choosing the right choccy to wrap up and give to your loved one, it's not always easy to pick out a winner. Hint: it's not as simple as heading to the sweets aisle in your local supermarket.
To help you, we've rounded up six of the very best craft chocolate brands you can find in New Zealand. They're ethical, environmentally-responsible, Kiwi-made and utterly creative when it comes to the delicious flavours they've concocted - and we're certain they will go down a treat.

1. Bennetto Natural Foods Company

If you're looking for a chocolate bar you can feel good about eating (well, even better than most chocolate makes you feel), Christchurch-based Bennetto Natural Foods Co. should be your pick of the bunch. Not only is this small business's chocolate organic, Fairtrade and vegan, but it is also carbon neutral – as the Peruvian farmers' cooperative from which they source their cocoa plants one tree for every 1000 bars they produce. The gorgeous flavours in Bennetto's chocolate range, along with their beautifully artistic packaging, makes this chocolate the perfect gift.
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This bespoke bean-to-bar company is responsible for the rejuvenation of Dunedin's love for chocolate, with the opening of their factory for tours in early 2019 being a much-welcome replacement for the closure of the iconic Cadbury chocolate factory. After ethically sourcing their cacao beans from farmers in the Pacific, OCHO then performs every step of the chocolate-making process in their factory, resulting in simple, sustainable and straight-up stunning bars. All of their combinations are creative and delicious, but the Horopito & Kawakawa is a must-try celebration of Kiwi flavours.
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3. House of Chocolate

Given its popularity in boutique gift stores all over the country, it would be a crime not to include House of Chocolate on this list. Based on Auckland's North Shore, House of Chocolate sources some of the world's best chocolate, then transforms it into their own deliciously original flavours and decorates it with sprinkles of nuts and freeze-dried fruit. They are constantly experimenting with flavour combinations and partnerships with beloved brands, including a stand-out Mandarin, Feijoa and Dark Chocolate, and their 2017 Christmas collaboration with Jo Malone – but, really, anything you choose will blow your mind.

4. Baron Hasselhoff’s

With their imaginative packaging, quirky product names and outlandish descriptions, a box of Baron Hasselhoff's will always go down a treat – and that's before we even get to what's inside the boxes. Based in Wellington, this boutique chocolate shop sources dark chocolate from around the world and turns them into unique treats. From the 'Bollywood Disco' (chocolate truffles flavoured with chai spice, star anise and Szechuan pepper) to the 'Matador Balls' (Mexican-chocolate cookies with cinnamon, ginger and cayenne), you're always in for a surprise when it comes to these colourful packages.

5. La Petite Artisan Chocolat

Out of their Hastings chocolate shop, La Petite Chocolat makes artisan treats with heart and soul. Their founder, Anissa Talbi Dobson, learnt her trade in the French village of Beaufort-sur-Gervanne, before bringing her passion for environmentally and socially conscious chocolate to Hastings - and we're all luckier for it. Their cacao is organic and Fairtrade, and their minimalistic, in-house-made packaging is all recyclable or compostable. La Petite have a stunning range of thoughtful flavours, but for a gift with extra meaning, opt for their Forest & Bird Extra Dark or their Women's Refuge 58% Dark, both of which donate $1 from each bar to the respective charities. It's a win-win!

6. Wellington Chocolate Factory

As the first bean-to-bar chocolate company in New Zealand, Wellington Chocolate Factory is old hat at creating chocolate that Kiwis love. But these passionate chocolatiers don't just care about the taste of their chocolate, they are also dedicated to ensuring the social impact of their chocolate is wholly positive – creating a greater standard of living for the cocoa farmers that provide them with their beans. That said, the taste is pretty important too, and WCF are constantly innovating incredible new flavours and combinations. Our picks are 'The Great War Bar' (vegan coconut chocolate with a crunch of ANZAC biscuit) and their Star Anise Milk Chocolate, which has a wonderfully Christmassy taste.
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