$41 for 16 pieces, neuhauschocolate.com
This Belgian classic has stores around the world. Yet the brand has maintained control even to the extent of owning the farms that produce a portion of the cacao. Neuhaus' truffles are slightly thick hemispheres filled with milky buttercream, a departure from the standard ganache. The flavored lines go all over the map: crumbled speculoos, a Low Countries cookie, and cardamom. Another has Belgian waffle. The most interesting has hops, nibs and nougat, which bring bright and intense vegetal and chocolate flavors.
2. L.A. BURDICK
$22 for 24 small pieces, burdickchocolate.com
After a stint in Europe, Larry Burdick got his start making chocolate mice that fine Manhattan restaurants would serve with the bill. He and his family moved to New Hampshire in the early 1990s and opened their first shop. His tiny Cognac truffle is supercreamy, fruity and slightly sweet, with a mildly bitter bite. The ingot-shaped honey truffle has a dusky, herbaceous flavor so that it's barely sweet. Order both as part of a custom assortment.
$18 for 36 pieces, woodhousechocolate.com
What to do after you sell your wine estate? For the Anderson family of S. Anderson Vineyard, the answer was open a chocolate shop, which they did in St. Helena 15 years ago. They have a broad range of confections, most of them flavored, including seasonal collections. Their truffles are dice-shaped and small. They have straightforward chocolate flavor and are moreish; just as you're thinking, "Hey, that's pretty good," you realize you've eaten five.
4. MICHEL CLUIZEL
$3 for one oversize piece or $40 for 15 classic pieces, cluizel.us
Cluizel started as a tiny patisserie and chocolate shop in Normandy after World War II. By the 1980s, it had ramped up production and begun exporting to the United States, and now has a production facility here too. Cluizel has stuck by small-batch principles such as not using soy lecithin, which many producers use to control texture. The oversize Géante truffle, available in the New York City store, has a thicker shell, with Brazilian chocolate that tastes of spiced berries. Boxes of classic-size truffles can be ordered online.
5. LA MAISON DU CHOCOLAT
$64 for 30 pieces, lamaisonduchocolat.us
Robert Linxe founded La Maison in Paris in the 1970s, and the chocolates quickly became known for their purity. He favored a darker, more grown-up profile; chocolate not as confection but as food. The thin but crisp shell on the straight truffle snaps to let out a direct and powerful ganache that's neither sweet nor bitter. I thought it was the best truffle you could get in the U.S. until I had the caramel toffee one, which is even better. The caramel elicits faint burnt sugar flavors woven through a complex chocolate. The cassis ones are for your fruit-loving friends.