Raw gourmet cholocateThese six chocolate makers aren’t cheap, but their sweets are among the best in the world. Here, listed in order of my personal preference…

Ortrud Münch Carstens Haute Chocolature. German-born Carstens produces possibly the nation’s best chocolates. Because she prefers to work alone in her New York City studio, she turns away many would-be buyers. She charges $100 per pound for her “Barks”—ultra­thin sheets of chocolate containing nuts and fruits—and as much as $180 per pound for specialty items. The minimum order is $150, plus $20 or so for overnight shipping. Phone orders only. 212-751-9591.

Richart Design et Chocolat. Richart’s chocolates have tremendous flavor—and with their delicate geometric patterns, they might be the most beautiful bonbons. This French company ships throughout the US from its New York City store. The company’s most popular product is the $59 one-pound Petits Richart box of assorted chocolates. Shipping adds $7 to $12 to the price, though that climbs to $25 in warm weather, when overnight delivery and ice packs are required. 7 E. 55 St., New York City 10022. 888-742-4278, www.richart-chocolates.com.

La Maison du Chocolat. Paris-based La Maison makes chocolates with ultrathin coatings and mousselike fill­ings. It charges $43 for 0.57 pound of chocolate truffles …$81 for 1.26 pounds. Another popular offering is the ganache selection at $43 for 0.42 pound or $54 for 0.61 pound. Shipping is $16 to $27. 1018 Madison Ave. or 30 Rockefeller Center at 49 St., New York City 10021. 800-988-5632, www.lamaisonduchocolat.com.

XOX Truffles. This San Francisco–area chocolate shop makes irregularly shaped French-style truffles. The chocolate coatings are delicate, the fillings dark and sensual. A one-pound box is $70, plus $20 shipping. Walk-in customers can buy at the wholesale price of $40 per pound without a fancy gift box. 6126 La Salle Ave., Oakland, California 94611. 510-339-9969, www.xoxtruffles.com.

L.A. Burdick Handmade Chocolates. Choco­latier Larry Burdick produces his chocolates in Walpole, New Hampshire. He often uses distinctive flavors such as lemon-pepper and cumin in his truffles, and the results are delicious. He also makes an incredible powdered hot chocolate mix. One pound of assorted chocolates costs $46… a 12-ounce bag of hot chocolate mix is $11.50. Shipping is $10 to $30. 47 Main St., Walpole, New Hampshire 03608. 800-229-2419, www.burdickchocolate.com.

Ricard Chocolat. The flavors of chocolate and filling are blended to perfection in these beautiful bonbons. Ricard’s flavors change each season, so what you get depends on when you order. A half-pound assortment costs $33. Shipping can be as little as $5, though it might be $15 or $20 during warm weather. 212-673-2779, www.ricardchocolat.com.

Chairman’s note: I haven’t tried the chocolates in this article yet, but my favorite is from Schakolad Chocolate Factory (172 Bedford St., Stamford, Connecticut 06901, 203-359-1886, www.schakolad.com). A one-pound sample box is $28.—Martin Edelston

Source: David Rosengarten, editor in chief of The Rosengarten Report, a review of the country’s best food and wines. 10 issues. $39.95/yr. 703-394-4931. He also offers the free E -zine Tastings, available at www.davidrosengarten.com. He is a regular contributor to NBC’s Today show and has written five cookbooks, including David Rosengarten Entertains: Fabulous Parties for Food Lovers (Wiley).

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