These cocoa connoisseurs are raising the bar with from-scratch chocolate roasted south of the Mason Dixon.
Escazú Artisan Chocolates
Former chef Hallot Parson is committed to sourcing his beans only from Latin America, where cacao originated.
Try: The Roasted Cocoa Nibs 65% dark chocolate bar ($5), with a pleasant crunch from nibs (bits of roasted beans). escazuchocolates.com
Cacao Atlanta Chocolate Company
Kristen Hard ditched law school to open Cacao in 2004, and four years later became the female pioneer of bean-to-bar chocolate.
Try: The beautifully packaged 'Love Bar,' Straight Up ($8), with 75% dark chocolate sourced from the Dominican Republic. cacaoatlanta.com
French Broad Chocolates
Truffle pros Jael and Dan Rattigan are now making from-scratch chocolate, some with a newly rediscovered Peruvian heirloom bean.
Try: 65% cacao La Red Cooperative ($7). frenchbroadchocolates.com
Olive & Sinclair Chocolate Company
Chef Scott Witherow uses brown sugar, molasses, and a stone grinding process much like the one used to make grits.
Try: The creamy-tart Buttermilk White Chocolate ($6). oliveandsinclair.com
Working from his home workshop, Ben Rasmussen produces about 500 artisan chocolate bars a week.
Try: The Upala 70% Chocolate Bar with flavor notes of raspberry and caramel ($7). potomacchocolate.com
Shawn Askinosie makes 42,000 pounds of chocolate annually sourced from farmers he personally meets on four continents.
Try: The White Chocolate Nibble Bar cocoa butter laced with nibs ($10.50). askinosie.com