I am an avowed supporter of Valentine’s Day — not because I have a particularly rosy-eyed view of love and friendships, although I’m also pro those things. But I’m really here for the chocolate, which on
Valentine’s Day, deservedly takes pride of place, conversation hearts and flower arrangements notwithstanding. This is the time to request and give really fancy chocolate, the kind of chocolate that immediately telegraphs luxury and decadence. There’s nothing that fits that bill quite like bonbons.
Traditionally, bonbons are made with molds and contain a wide variety of fillings, from fruits and nuts to caramel and marzipans (unlike truffles, which generally contain ganache). They are a canvas for a chocolatier’s creativity both on the inside and on the chocolate shelled exteriors, which are often painted to resemble glistening gemstones. While any box of chocolates can make for a fine romantic gesture or clichéd apology, bonbons are always a celebration. Here, a list of confectioners from across the country to prove my point (they all ship nationwide).
This is the place that convinced me there’s absolutely nothing more delightful than sitting around and eating bonbons all day. At the New York City shop, Susanna Yoon manages to pack all the flavors of other elaborate desserts — like calamansi meringue pie or black forest cake — into a beautiful package. You can’t select individual flavors when you order to ship online, but trust, they won’t disappoint.
Pastry chef Jessica Wang is behind this Seattle-based, one-woman dessert omakase pop-up. Wang understands well that Valentine’s Day and bonbons go hand in hand, offering a limited-time holiday collection until it sells out. The collections, available in six, 12, or 24 pieces, include equal parts white, dark, and milk chocolate bonbons, containing Wang’s inventive flavor combinations, including cassis and black sesame; black garlic, balsamic, and vanilla; and bone marrow salted caramel.
New Jersey-based Vesta Chocolate is a bean-to-bonbon chocolate factory, meaning chocolatiers Roger Rodriguez and Julia Choi Rodriguez start the chocolate-making process with whole cacao beans which they then process to form the basis of confections ranging from hot chocolate to bars to bonbons. Those bonbons are available to ship in boxes of six or 12 surprise flavors, but all of them are gluten- and nut-free.
In Miami, bean-to-bonbon Exquisito Chocolates prides itself on ethical sourcing. You can see exactly how chocolate maker Carolina Quijano turns cacao into chocolate on this episode of Eater’s “Handmade.” And for Valentine’s Day, you can order boxes of two to 12 bonbons containing flavors like guava and cafe con leche.
New Orleans bean-to-bar shop Piety and Desire sells boxes of its pretty bonbons in sets of four to 24, but the website notes that the 12-piece option — a red sparkle version of the usual set— will be the most festive. While the flavors are a mystery (they’re a mix of Piety and Desire’s seasonal and signature bonbons), there is the option to choose nut-free sets. A vegan box is also available.
Eater SF called Topotgato San Francisco’s “most audacious online chocolate shop.” The hand-painted confections from pastry chef Simon Brown and designer Beau Monroe contain flavor combinations like pistachio marzipan with hibiscus jelly and pear jam with chamomile tea and a white wine ganache.
Sugoi’s Elle Lei makes bonbons in small batches out of Chicago. You can choose from the new collection (with flavors like beer pretzel, Chicago corn, and milk tea) or the original collection (flavors here include blueberry lavender, coconut almond, and cotton candy pop rock), each in sets of 12. But given the difficulty of choosing, you can also get both flavor sets in a box of 24 bonbons.
Houston-based Cacao and Cardamom recognizes the jewel-like appeal of the bonbon, which here come in a variety of shapes, packaged in gold-lined boxes. As the shop’s name implies, spices take a starring role in chocolatier Annie Rupani’s flavors: there’s strawberry szechuan peppercorn, garam masala pistachio, five spice praline, and cardamom rose, just to name a few.
The Valentine’s Day offerings at Dallas-based chocolatier Kate Weiser combine my desire for quality, fancy chocolate with the gaudy Valentine’s Day imagery I unironically love. Just look at those pink hearts!
In Tucson, Monsoon Chocolate puts together boxes of bonbons that showcase a variety of aesthetic styles with flavors that reflect the southwestern setting, such as chiltepín pepper, prickly pear caramel, and Sonoran sea salt dark chocolate. For Valentine’s Day, you can preorder its Sweethearts collection, a box of eight pieces including salted rose caramel and raspberry dark chocolate, among others. Monsoon, too, is a bean-to-bar operation.
Atlanta-based Jardí Chocolates is particularly well suited to the fruit lover. For Valentine’s Day, pastry chef Jocelyn Gragg is putting together a four-piece set of bonbons; flavors include Earl Grey, blood orange caramel, amaretto cherry, and blueberry rose.
At andSons in Los Angeles, second-generation chocolate makers carry on the family tradition with elegant bonbons and other chocolate confections. The 2024 Valentine’s Day collection drops January 25, but the brand has announced its lineup of holiday flavors, including buttered popcorn and strawberry Champagne.
Bon Bon Bon’s bonbons might not have the typical domed shape, but the flavors take full advantage of the anything-goes spirit of the bonbon. The Detroit shop’s Valentine’s Day collection is extremely on-theme, featuring flavors like Puppy Love (puppy chow and milk chocolate), Stud Muffin (blueberry muffin ganache, cream cheese icing, and candy studs), and Pandan Padam (pandan cake ganache and custard ganache). Valentine’s Day pre-orders will ship February 5.