Chocolate is wonderful to express your feelings or to simply indulge your sweet tooth and gourmet chocolate makers sure know how to make their products appealing. Whether you’re looking to find the perfect gift for a near and dear one, or want to spoil yourself with a box of splendid chocolate bonbons, you need to know what brands can offer the best value for your money. Just make sure you don’t overdo it with the sweetness, since it has a way of taking vengeance on your thighs.

1. LA Burdick Handmade Chocolates

The first brand on the list of top gourmet chocolate makers is LA Burdick Handmade Chocolates, who specialize in all-natural products. They never use extracts, concentrates or flavorings in their products, and the flavors they do employ come directly from the source – coffees, teas, cooked fruits, squeezed and zested oranges and lemons, herbs and spices. This makes for wholly unique products, with no two batches of bonbons ever the same. They also use local honey, Mexican vanilla beans and a variety of nuts and dried fruits from California and Turkey. Sounds absolutely delicious!

2. Christopher Norman Chocolates

This  New York-based producer is great at creating distinctive boxed collections, which contain hand painted and sculptural truffles, all innovatively flavored. The Christopher Norman Chocolates mission is “to create extraordinarily luscious and sensory-provoking confections that encompass the quintessentially classic flavors, as well as unique and fresh taste experiences”. All ingredients used are natural, and each piece is handmade.

3. MarieBelle New York

MarieBelle New York is one top gourmet chocolate maker that combines top chocolate-making techniques, the finest chocolate, eclectic ingredients and artisanal techniques to create veritable chocolate masterpieces, each of them a unique work of art. The brand was named after designer and founder Maribel Lieberman. Their products resemble semi-precious jewels, on display in beautiful Italian boxes. The entire brand image is haute-couture, “with a timeless style that feels classic and contemporary.”

4. Lake Champlain Chocolates

This gourmet chocolate maker is based in Vermont and works starting from the basis of a rich fine chocolate making, craftsmanship heritage and wonderful Vermont-specific flavors. They take pride in “producing sweet indulgences with pride that goes into each bite.” Its garnered accolades include a mention in the New York Times, which dubbed it “some of the best chocolate in the country.”

5. Romanicos Chocolate

The owner of Romanicos Chocolate, Alejandra Bigai, is all about producing luxurious, sexy and most of all delicious chocolate – just the way it was meant to be enjoyed. Romanicos hand-rolls their chocolate truffles with splendid flavoring such as wild coconut, holy berry, passion caramel and heavenly vanilla. The luscious names give the potential buyer a strong indication of the type of experience they’d be in for, with buying these chocolates. The Piccolo Art Collection features hand-painted chocolate with almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios or dulce de leche inside. The brand also produces custom gift baskets for businesses.

6. La Maison du Chocolat

Yes, the fact that it’s got a French name makes this gourmet chocolate maker highly likely to delight your taste buds with superb chocolate products, made in the French tradition. They also sell chocolate-glazed chestnuts, a perfect wintertime treat. They are based in France and only sell to Western Europe countries and Canada. In addition to their commercially sold chocolates, they also produce lavish haute couture designs, all in chocolate from top to bottom.

7. Vosges Chocolates

The owner, Katrina Markoff, has received a French education where making chocolate is concerned, and this is reflected in the truly extraordinary chocolates produced and sold by Vosges Chocolates. Katrina combines classic chocolate-making techniques with her personal penchant for world cuisine. Sample chocolates flavored with blood orange, Mexican chili, pumpkin, Hawaiian sea salt and other exotic flavors. If you’re into more classical tastes, you can always go for hazelnut, fine honey, rich caramel and more.

8. Richart Paris

Here is one gourmet chocolate maker with a long-standing tradition of making wonderful cocoa-based goodies behind them. The company was started in 1925; today, two generations later, the company considers it their daily mission “to seek out both an inexhaustible supply of the finest cocoa the world has to offer and, along with it, an equally endless amount of the happiness and pleasure that chocolate has to offer,” says company owner Michel Richart. Their top seller and most amazing line is the Little Gourmet collection.

9. Recchiuti Confections

The artisan chocolate making company based in San Francisco has made it its goal to introduce average consumers to real chocolate, and to share with them the passion and great quality of what chocolate is truly supposed to be. They say that “one bite of these handcrafted morsels will change the way you think about chocolate forever.” Their product lines include classic fine chocolates, as well as more unusual combos, such as the company’s signature burnt caramel chocolates and their tarragon grapefruit. Their Paul Madonna collection features hand-painted chocolates with scenes from daily San Francisco life, by the acclaimed artist of the same name.

10. Payard’s

Payard’s is one name you’ll often hear on the lips of gourmet lovers in New York, as Francois Payard is one of the best pastry chefs in the US. The Frenchman runs a cafe called Payard’s Patisserie and Bistro in New York, while also selling his lavish chocolates and cakes online, available for the entire world to enjoy.