A Hyperlocal LA Chocolate Guide For Valentine's Day

French chocolates made by Daniel Lavenu. (Photo by DANIEL JANIN/AFP/Getty Images)

I've gone on record with my distaste for fancy, prix fixe restaurant meals on Valentine's Day. (Waiters hate the holiday as much as I do.) I am, however, 100% pro-chocolate, not just on V-Day but on any day that ends in a 'Y.'

This guide you're about to devour features chocolatiers and confectioners who founded or base their businesses in Los Angeles.

This is an utterly subjective list based on our tastes and on suggestions from our audience. We've included as many places as we can without gaining 37 pounds.

Valerie Confections — Valerie Gordon not only makes some of the best cakes around (have you never had a Blum's Coffee Cake? go now!), she makes amazing chocolate bars, truffles and toffee. Studded with roasted almonds and cocoa nibs and sprinkled with hickory smoked salt, her chocolate bark is also a thing of beauty. If you like it dark, she has a Bittersweet Bar that's 72% chocolate. If you prefer white chocolate, the Blushing Berry Bar is filled with raspberries, pistachios and rose petals. There are also plenty of options in between, including milk chocolate and almond toffee. Sop us now because we want to eat everything.You can also find her treats at various shops around town and her two boutiques. Although she recently closed her Grand Central Market outpost, Valerie is planning to open a shop in Woodland Hills.
3364 W. First St., South Silver Lake. 213-739-8149.
1665 Echo Park Ave., Echo Park. 213-250-9365.

Chocovivo — Patricia Tsai gave up a career in accounting to make bean-to-bar chocolate. Working with a grower in Tabasco, Mexico, she aims to make you shift the way you see chocolate, not simply as candy but as food.
12469 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City. 310-845-6259.

Compartes Chocolate at the launch of Regime des Fleurs perfume at Kelly Wearstler in Los Angeles on April 29, 2015. (Photo by John Sciulli/Getty Images for Kelly Wearstler, Inc.)

Compartes — Jonathan Graham of Compartes is like the chocolate world's Yves Saint Laurent. He crafts delicate truffles and bars with chic designs, both on the chocolates themselves and on the packaging. They're ideal for the most aesthetically discriminating person you know.
Westfield Century City Mall - 10250 Santa Monica Blvd., #1625, Century City. 310-826-3380.

A See's employee scooping out a bucketful of the candy factory's roasted almonds.

See's Candies — Old fashioned in all the best ways, See's was founded in Los Angeles in 1921. The company still produces its signature walnut squares, molasses chips, truffles and Scotch kisses in a factory on La Cienega Blvd., between Baldwin Hills and Culver City.
3431 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles. 310-559-4919.

andSons Chocolatiers — In 1983, Aviva Covitz opened Teuscher Chocolates & Cafe, a small shop that imported chocolates from Switzerland. More than three decades later, her sons, Marc and Phil, sons took over the space, brought in pastry chef Kriss Harvey, (previously of The Bazaar) and revamped it into andSons Chocolatiers. Now, they use organic ingredients to hand make gorgeous truffles in flavors like raspberry vanilla rum, Texas pecan praline with coffee ganache, dark chocolate lime and coconut passionfruit.
9548 Brighton Way, Beverly Hills. 310-276-2776.

John Kelly Chocolates — They're two guys, John and Kelly, who left gigs in luxury retail and branding to launch a company with their killer fudge recipe. They now make 19 variations on their "truffle fudge," which ar essentially truffles filled with fudge instead of ganache.
1508 N. Sierra Bonita Ave., Hollywood. 323-851-3269.
1111 1/2 Montana Ave., Santa Monica. 310-899-0900.

Milla Chocolates — Using single origin or organic chocolates from the Dominican Republic, Peru or Venezuela, chocolatier Christine Sull Sarioz has become semi-famous for her hazelnut praline bar and caramelized almonds coated in chocolate. Her raspberry bon bons are a favorite and for Valentine's Day, she's offering a box of stunning Black Heart Bon Bons, filled with a dark chocolate and raspberry ganache and coated in the darkest dark chocolate you can imagine. You can find Milla's confections at stores around Southern California and at its Culver City shop.
9414 Venice Blvd., Culver City.

LetterPress Chocolate — In 2014 by David and Cory Menkes left their jobs (him: visual effects industry; her: finance) to launch this bean to bar chocolate company. They source cacao from all over — Honduras, Ghana, Ecuador, Sao Tome, Trinidad — and turn it into rich, carefully made bars. In addition to online, you can find it in a variety of spots around SoCal.

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tasting rectangles

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Bar Au Chocolat - After operating as a boutique chocolatemaker since 2010, Nicole Trutanich is planning to open a Manhattan Beach shop later this spring. Until then, you can get her chocolate bars, marzipan hearts and Día de los Muertos-themed chocolate cups (made in collaboration with Zapotec chef Reyna Mendoza) online.

If you'd rather make your own chocolate — or have your loverrrrrrr learn how to make chocolate for you — the Gourmandise School of Sweets & Savories offers several classes taught by local chocolatier Ruth Kennison. You can enjoy a tasting night or learn how to melt, temper, dip and mold chocolate and even how to make your own bean-to-bar delicacies.

!!!BONUS!!!

We love caramel too!

Little Flower Candy Co. — Christine Moore makes the best caramels ever. They're so mind-bogglingly soft, you'll wonder how they haven't melted before you put them in your mouth. You'll find them at plenty of stores around town and at her Pasadena shop, along with muffins, cakes, fruit crumbles and gourmet marshmallows. Her cafe, Lincoln in Pasadena, also has tons of treats.
1422 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena. 626-304-4800.

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Doesn't that look delicious?

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We're also big fans of Le Bon Garçon's salted French-style caramels, which Justin Chao makes in flavors like blood orange and champagne, tiramisu and honey lavender.