Life is like a box of chocolates. Eat the ones you like with abandon and pawn off the ones with nuts—at least, that’s my motto. Whether your preference is dark, milk, or white, Sonoma County has a whole lotta cacao going on.
Best for Birthdays
Mocha Tres Leches Cake from Tía María Bakery
This dairy-laden cake has four types of milk—condensed, evaporated, heavy cream, and coffee-infused—to create a creamy, decadent, and, most importantly, moist cake that will make you an instant convert to the Mexican-style treat. From $48.
Best frozen treat
Chocolate Orange Glacée from Goguette Bread
The Santa Rosa bread bakers have added French custard ice cream to their lineup, and it’s like nothing else. Made with cream, sugar, and egg yolks, it has billionaire richness studded with just a hint of citrus. $5-$15.
59 Montgomery Dr., Santa Rosa. goguettebread.com
Best in a cup
European Drinking Chocolate from Sonoma Chocolatiers & Tea House
This isn’t even in the same universe as Swiss Miss. Made with chocolate shavings and hot milk (plus optional chile or almond milk), it’s a liquid candy bar made for sipping slowly and paging through Proust on a rainy day. $6.95.
Chocolate Cheesecake with Raspberries and Graham Crackers from Volo Chocolate
Inspired by Mexican chocolate while living in Baja, these chef-chocolatiers are bean-to-bar producers who like to have a little fun with their flavors. This 61% bar is a sweet kiss of cream and fruit. $9.
At Oliver’s Markets or order at volochocolate.com.
Candy Cap Mushroom Caramel from Fleur Sauvage
Mushroom chocolate might sound odd, but sweet candy caps impart a maple syrup flavor that infuses the buttery caramel. The barely-there snap of the chocolate coating gives way to a unique wintry flavor. Four for $12. 370 Windsor River Rd., Windsor. 707-892-2162, fleursauvagechocolates.com
Best restaurant dessert
The Princess Cake from 19Ten Bar & Provisions
Though the best part of this gooey, messy dessert is the cake slathered with warm chocolate ganache, the dealcloser is the edible glitter. Fit for royalty.
Best sweet treat
Dark chocolate brownie from Marla Bakery
A marriage of dark chocolate and fairy dust, this thick, dense brownie is almost fudgelike in consistency. You should share it—but no. $4.50.
Best vending machine
Truffle assortment from Eye Candy Chocolatier
It’s late, it’s your anniversary, and you need something fast. This high-end chocolate shop has a serve-yourself vending machine open daily until 7 p.m. Win.