The Awesome Mitten 13 Cupcakes You Need to Try in MI List was a big hit. We thought we should continue the confectionery crawl onto the holy grail of desserts: chocolate. We’re here to share with you the best places to get your chocolate fix in Michigan. Whether you’ve got allergies to nuts, soy, dairy, wheat, or need a sugar-free option, chances are, we’ve got a pick in here for you.
Birmingham Chocolate– Birmingham
This Metro Detroit chocolateria opened in 2008 after Doug Cale, Head Chocolatier, retired from the corporate world. It ended up being a pretty sweet deal. The business committed to art, not automation, of each small batch of hand-crafted creations. Many natural ingredients go into the treats which have kosher, vegan, gluten-free, and non-GMO versions. Organic bars are also soy free and fair trade certified, so there’s really no room for any guilt in these indulgences. The European style chocolateria includes cacao chocolates, truffles, cremes, fruit and nut clusters, barks, caramels, toffees, and way more. You can create your own bar or build your own box too.
Inventive, handcrafted cacao truffle flavors include banana brulee, blueberry cheesecake, coconut mojito, french toast, lavender, lemon tart, old fashion, PB&J, pecan pie, saffron twist, strawberry basil, and white Russian. Perhaps here’s the best part — two words: chocolate party. I repeat, CHOCOLATE PARTY. You can host your own, learn about the art of chocolate, hand-dip your own truffles, and craft your own delicious chocolate concoction. To some, it’s known as Birmingham Chocolate, but to others, it’s called heaven.
Bon Bon Bon– Detroit & Hamtramck
Classic French technique meets the hardworking, blue-collar side of the Motor City in this Hamtramck business. Full of internationally-trained confiseurs, Bon Bon Bons loosely translates to “good goodies.” Their main focus is on flavor and the product, not the package. You won’t find frilly bows here or ornate trinket boxes costing more than the chocolate itself. Their motto is “good people, good chocolate” and that’s something we can all get down with. Bon Bon Bons also hosts fun pairing events, including beer & bons, cheese & bons, bons ‘n’ toffee, and bon making classes.
Everything about this small business seems unique and refreshing. They have “Rosie the Riveter” inspired outfits, no-frills, functional, recyclable packaging, and a creative collection of flavors. There’s the brunch collection: avocado toast, strawberry pop tart, Monte Cristo, cereal & milk, blueberry muffin, yogurt parfait, bloody Mary, and cheddar & grits. ‘Cause chocolate is great, and brunch is great — so the two together … come on now. There’s even a salty-sweet combo, made with Detroit’s own Better Made chips.
Sanders Chocolate & Ice Cream Shoppe– Grosse Pointe + Seemingly Everywhere
An ice cream sundae truly isn’t complete without hot fudge. And if you’re a Michigander, it’s really not complete without Sanders hot fudge, because really, is there any other kind? Sanders has been the go-to dessert topping since 1875 when Fred Sanders opened his first chocolate shoppe in Detroit.
Other famous sweet treats from Sanders include the cream puffs and signature fudge bumpy cakes. The family business became the leader among confections in the region, and led to more than 57 locations in the Great Lakes Region. Throwin’ it back to the days of the soda fountain counter and proud of it.
Mokaya – Grand Rapids
Grand Rapids is known to some as the former furniture capital of the world, but to most, it’s Beer City U.S.A. You’d be pressed to find a corner without a brewery or bar serving locally-made drafts on tap. It might not be the very first place you think of when you’re craving a chocolate crawl, though, but that’s where you’d be wrong. Mokaya opened up their chocolate boutique in Grand Rapids in 2016, but the idea dates back to 2000 with The Catering Company. After pastry chef and chocolatier training, chef Charles Amado tested his flavors for a decade with truffles, confections, pastries, ice creams, and drinks.
The cocoa beans come from Latin America via fair trade practices. All of the chocolates are made in-house by hand. Of course, keeping things locally-made is important to Mokaya, and they are very aware of their hometown: Grand Rapids. They feature a Beer City favorite, with their beer-infused flight of chocolate truffles. Flavors include Elk Brewing coffee porter dark chocolate, Grand Rapids Brewing Company Rosalynn Bliss White chocolate, Founders Porter Dark chocolate, Brewery Vivant Farmhand Butter Caramel, and more.
Gilbert Chocolates– Jackson
For the last 100 years, Gilbert Chocolates has been one of the best chocolate companies in the state. Spearheaded by John O. Gilbert, his first ever store on West Main Street led to a mass-producing candy facility in 1913. Gilbert even worked with Hershey Chocolate Co. to craft a very special Gilbert’s special dark chocolate. If you find yourself free Thursday mornings, or want to play hooky (we’re not judging!), you can go on a free tour of the Gilbert Chocolates Factory at 10 a.m.
Their extensive collection of products includes milk chocolates, dark chocolates, pecan clusters, peanut butter cups, almond clusters, chocolate covered Oreo, fudge, and sugar-free options.
Mindo Chocolate Makers– Dexter
This chocolate shop has a different backstory involving transmissions instead of truffles. The owners used to operate an auto repair shop in Ann Arbor. The pair then opened up an internet cafe after moving to Ecuador and served locally grown coffee. Next came brownies. The only problem was a lack of quality chocolate in the area. Using a juicer and a huge bag of cocoa beans, they began to process their own cacao. In 2009 the bean-to-bar chocolate business opened in Dexter, Michigan.
What’s really cool is that the Mindo, Ecuador location still stands. You can even tour it or attend a week-long chocolate-making class there. Mindo Chocolates is a finalist in the Good Food Awards in 2011 and 2013. You can pick from pure 67-87% chocolate bars, rustic cinnamon, hot pepper, Ecuadorian drinking chocolate, tasting squares, and Ecuadorian vanilla beans.
The Chocolate Garden– Coloma
Add the Chocolate Garden to your list of chocolate stops in Michigan. This southwest gem has been featured on the Food Network, the Travel Channel, and Fine Living TV. America’s Best even named it the ‘best chocolatier in America,’ so you know it’s the real deal.
The handmade truffles have no hard outer shell, just melt-in-your-mouth ooey, gooey, goodness. Their signature box is complete with a truffle map on the top, just in case you’re not into that whole “you never know what you’re gonna get” Forrest Gump mentality. The Chocolate Garden is in the picturesque “Pure Michigan” town of Coloma and is open seven days a week. You can even ship anywhere in the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii. Get your Christmas shopping done early this year.
Fabiano’s – Lansing
This Lansing staple has been in business since 1924 when the Fabiano family ice cream parlor expanded its reach to include candy. The business was passed onto generations of children and grandchildren and remains a go-to for top-quality candies in the area. Its East Michigan Avenue location has been open since 1979. It offers about 250 different varieties including bin candies, jar candies, and even a sugar-free section — all made right in the back of the store.
The Lansing business’ biggest sellers are caramels, toffees, and turtles. Chocolate flavors include cherry cordials, dried blueberries and cranberries, pineapple, strawberries, mini orange peels, raisins, peanut butter cups, vanilla nougats, and more. Fabiano’s Candies is even the Guinness Book of World Records holder for the largest candy cane ever made in 1998.
Oh Mi Organics – St. Johns
This little organic chocolate store labels their product as “the healthiest chocolate ever” and we’ve gotta admit –it’s darn close. You’d think that a dessert made without gluten, soy, eggs, wheat, dairy, or peanuts might not have the richest of flavors, but Oh Mi Organics is a pleasant surprise to your taste buds. Made with organic coconut oil, raw honey, and pure maple syrup, their treats are all killer.
Aside from their classic small town, downtown shop and soon-to-be-expanding factory around the corner, you can find Oh Mi Organics at plenty of farm markets, co-ops, and health food stores across the state. With 40 flavors in store and as many as 18 in rotation at Foods for Living in Lansing, there’s always plenty to taste at Oh Mi Organics. Disclaimer: It is a cash only store, so bring those dollar bills for the famous $2 chocolates.
Kilwin’s – Petoskey, Ludington, Charlevoix, Cheboygan + More
Friendly customer service has been a staple of Kilwin’s since 1947. The traditional down-home ice creamery and confectionery uses premium ingredients and original recipes. It’s one of those shops where you walk into it and it smells just as good as it tastes. Kilwin’s has chocolate, toffee, caramels, Mackinac Island fudge, apples, and brittle– all decadent in their own right.
Today, there are over 100 stores, but the behind-the-scenes process hasn’t changed since the founder Don Kilwin penned the method in the beginning. Their slogan is “sweet in every sense since 1947” and their equipment hasn’t even changed since the ’40’s. Hey, when you’ve got chocolate making down to a science, why change it?
Doncker’s Chocolate – Marquette
Marquette’s Doncker’s Chocolates has been in the sweet tooth business since 1896. That’s not a typo — we’re talking 121 years! What started out as a simple open-air stand with candy, fresh fruit, tobacco, and $0.05 hot-buttered popcorn has continued to pass down family recipes. Bear paws, blueberry crunch bark, butter almond toffee, chocolate covered espresso beans, pretzels, almonds, peppermint patties, and sea salt caramel Oreos make up their menu. It’s the same floor, the same marble counter tops, and the same wooden booths — and boy, does history taste good.
Sayklly’s – Escanaba
Since 1906, Sayklly’s has had its doors open to Escanaba. They sell peanut brittle, hand-pulled saltwater taffy, and hand-dipped chocolate and fudge. All are still are big sellers today. The family tradition continues on with a local favorite: the Whopper Snappie. Each one contains fresh roasted nuts, a layer of homemade caramel, and premium Sayklly’s chocolate. The intriguing dessert even landed its own segment on the Food Network’s “Unwrapped.”
Other options include sea foam (molasses candy dipped in smooth milk chocolate), Yooper bars, and chocolate covered sandwich cookies. They even have a ten-pound chocolate bar on the menu. That’s right, ten pounds, folks.
Drooling yet? Tell us – who makes Michigan’s best chocolates?