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A Chocolate Lovers Guide to the Most Delectable Types of Chocolate

A table topped with lots of different types of chocolate

There is something enchanting about the diverse world of chocolates, where the humble cocoa bean transforms into an array of exquisite flavors and textures that tantalize the taste buds of connoisseurs and casual enthusiasts alike. For gourmet chocolate shop owners and lovers, understanding the intricacies of different chocolate types is not just a skill but an art form. It’s about appreciating the subtle nuances that distinguish a velvety milk chocolate from a robust dark chocolate or a creamy white chocolate from the exotic ruby variety. This understanding is the cornerstone of our craft at Branson’s Chocolates in Ashland, OR.

Every chocolate type has its own unique story and special place in the hearts of those who savor it. This guide aims to unfold these stories, bringing to light the rich heritage, the meticulous crafting process, and the myriad of uses that make each type of chocolate unique.

Let’s embark on a sweet journey together, exploring the most delectable types of chocolates and their irresistible allure!

Dark Chocolate

Definition and Basic Information:

Dark chocolate, celebrated for its bold and complex flavor profile, is crafted from a blend of cocoa solids, sugar, and cocoa butter with minimal to no milk content. This chocolate is a favorite among connoisseurs for its rich, deep cocoa taste, which comes from a higher percentage of cocoa solids. The health benefits of dark chocolate, including its antioxidant properties, have also garnered attention, making it a popular choice for those seeking a healthier indulgence.

Flat lay composition with cocoa pods, beans and powder on gray table

Varieties and Cocoa Content:

The origin of its cocoa beans greatly influences dark chocolate’s diverse range, each region imparting unique flavors and characteristics to the chocolate.

Notable regions include:

  • West Africa (Ivory Coast, Ghana): Known for producing cocoa beans that are robust and full-bodied, these regions contribute to chocolates with classic, strong chocolate flavors, often with hints of nuts and earthiness.
  • South America (Ecuador, Venezuela, Brazil): South American beans are prized for their complex flavor profiles, ranging from floral and fruity to spicy and woody. Ecuador, in particular, is renowned for its Arriba cacao, which imparts a distinctive floral aroma.
  • Central America (Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua): These regions produce beans with a more balanced flavor profile, often with a perfect blend of fruity, floral, and earthy notes.
  • Caribbean (Trinidad, Dominican Republic): The Caribbean islands yield cocoa beans that are often described as having a refined, mild flavor with subtle fruity and floral undertones.
  • Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Philippines): Cocoa beans from these regions tend to have a more intense, sometimes slightly acidic flavor, with unique earthy and spicy notes.
  • Madagascar: Known for its fine flavor of cocoa beans, Madagascar produces chocolate with a distinctive fruity and slightly acidic profile, often with notes of citrus and berries.

Each region’s unique climate, soil composition, and cocoa bean varieties contribute to the distinct flavor profiles found in dark chocolates. The cocoa content, which can range from 50% to 90% or higher, also plays a crucial role in determining the intensity and bitterness of the chocolate.

Popular Uses and Pairing Ideas:

Dark chocolate’s versatility makes it a star in sweet and savory dishes. It’s a popular choice for baking, as its rich flavor complements other ingredients without overpowering them—dark chocolate pairs beautifully with bold red wines, aged whiskeys, and even craft beers. Branson’s Chocolates offers an exquisite selection of dark chocolates perfect for these culinary explorations.

Bowl and spoon with tasty melted chocolate on table

Milk Chocolate

Definition and Basic Information:

Milk chocolate, known for its creamy texture and sweet, mellow flavor, is made by adding milk powder or condensed milk to the chocolate mixture. It’s a widely loved variety, popular for its smoothness and balanced sweetness.

Comparison with Other Chocolate Types:

In contrast to dark chocolate, milk chocolate contains a lower percentage of cocoa solids and a higher percentage of sugar and milk. This composition gives it a lighter, creamier texture and a less intense chocolate flavor, making it a favorite among those who prefer a less bitter taste!

Ideal Uses and Recipes:

Milk chocolate’s creamy consistency makes it a versatile ingredient in various desserts. It’s the chocolate of choice for classic treats like chocolate bars, chocolate-covered nuts, and creamy mousses. Milk chocolate also works wonderfully in recipes with a desired subtle flavor, such as chocolate chip cookies or chocolate-covered fruits.

Pieces of white chocolate isolated on dark background

White Chocolate

Unveiling Its Unique Composition:

White chocolate stands out in the chocolate family due to its composition. Made primarily from cocoa butter, sugar, and milk, it lacks the cocoa solids that characterize dark and milk chocolates. Its rich, creamy texture and sweet, buttery flavor make it a unique type of chocolate. 

Misconceptions Clarified:

A common misconception is that white chocolate is not “real” chocolate because it doesn’t contain cocoa solids. However, the presence of cocoa butter, a key component derived from the cocoa bean, qualifies it as a genuine variety of chocolate.

Culinary Applications:

White chocolate’s creamy texture and sweet flavor make it a favorite for dessert creation. It’s particularly well-suited for sweet treats like fudges, ganache’s and as a truffle coating. Its melting properties also make it ideal for chocolate bark and as a drizzle over pastries and cakes.

raspberry truffles

Specialty Chocolates

Ruby Chocolate:

Ruby chocolate was first introduced in 2017 and has since become a favorite among chocolate lovers. This unique chocolate variety is made from specially processed cocoa beans, giving it a natural pink color and a flavor profile reminiscent of berries. It’s an excellent choice for those who want to try something new and exciting in the chocolate world. 

Raw Chocolate:

Raw chocolate is made from minimally processed cocoa beans and often contains no added sugar or dairy. It’s treasured for its high antioxidant content and is considered a healthier alternative to more processed chocolates.

Flavored and Infused Chocolates:

These unique varieties take the chocolate experience to new heights with the addition of exotic spices, herbs, and flavorings. From raspberry-flavored milk chocolate to chili-infused dark chocolate, these varieties offer a unique sensory experience.

Infused chocolates represent a sophisticated and creative aspect of chocolate-making, where the chocolate is imbued with various essences to create a unique flavor experience. Unlike flavored chocolates, where ingredients are mixed in, infusion involves integrating flavors at a molecular level. This can include infusing the cocoa butter with aromatics like orange blossom, lavender, or even smoky elements, resulting in a chocolate that subtly releases these flavors as it melts in the mouth.

Vegan and Dairy-Free Chocolates:

Vegan and dairy-free chocolates cater to those with dietary restrictions or ethical preferences. These chocolates replace dairy with plant-based alternatives like almond milk, coconut oil, or soy, offering a delicious and inclusive option for all chocolate lovers. Branson’s Chocolates is proud to offer a range of vegan and dairy-free chocolates, ensuring that everyone can enjoy the rich flavors of high-quality chocolate.

As we end our journey through the delicious world of chocolate types, it is clear that each variety holds a special place in the vast realm of culinary delights. From the intense and rich flavor of dark chocolate to the smooth and creamy texture of milk chocolate and the delicate and rich taste of white chocolate, every type offers a unique and delightful experience for our senses.

Exploring specialty chocolates such as the unique ruby chocolate, the minimally processed raw chocolate, the creative flavored and Infused chocolates, and inclusive vegan and dairy-free options highlights the endless creativity and innovation in the world of chocolate-making.

Branson's Chocolates owners

Embracing the Diversity of Chocolate at Branson’s Chocolates

At Branson’s Chocolates, we pride ourselves on our commitment to quality and variety, which showcases the art of chocolate craftsmanship. As we conclude this guide, we hope it has enlightened you about the diverse types of chocolates, inspired a deeper appreciation for their intricate flavors and stories, and encouraged you to continue exploring, tasting, and appreciating the wide array of chocolates available!

Whether you’re experimenting with a new recipe, pairing a favorite wine with a piece of dark chocolate, or indulging in the novel experience of infused chocolate, there’s always more to discover in this rich and flavorful world.

Visit us in-store or online today to begin exploring our gourmet chocolate collection, and call (541)488-7493 to learn about our custom chocolate molds and labeling!  

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Cherry Cordials

Locals Guide: February

Cherry Cordials

Our February Product of the Month is Chocolate Cherry Cordials. Imagine a sweet yet slightly tart Amarena cherry, filled with cherry liquor, and then drenched in our rich semi-sweet chocolate.  Perfect for a sweet Valentine’s Day gift, or a delicious treat anytime. Be sure to check out our Chocolate Talk video about Cherry Cordials on YouTube  to see how we make them.

And our Valentine’s Special is back by popular demand. When you buy our heart-shaped box of delicious Truffles, we throw in a single red rose. So sweet! So romantic! (Limited availability)

This month we are celebrating five years of retail sales, and we would like to say Thank You! We are honored to have so many wonderful wholesale and retail customers. Whether you buy cases of chocolates or a single truffle, we thank you all!

If you are getting Valentine’s chocolate for your special someone, or especially if you are treating yourself, we’ve got your chocolate! Branson’s Chocolates is right here in Ashland at 1662 Siskiyou Boulevard.  We’re just a block south of 7-11, in the Minute Market shopping center. We won’t be out and about in February, so stop by our store and get all your Valentine’s treats. We’re open Monday – Saturday 10-5:30.

You can also find Branson’s Chocolates on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, and at for online chocolate shopping.

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Wasabi Ginger

Locals Guide: January

Wasabi Ginger

If you like your dessert a little spicy, or slightly exotic, or even a bit adventurous, we have the chocolate for you—Wasabi Chocolates are the Product of the Month for January. Wasabi Ginger Squares are semi-sweet chocolate ganache squares flavored with wasabi, dipped in milk chocolate, and topped with crystallized ginger. And we have Gourmet Wasabi Ginger Bars for you milk chocolate lovers. Both the squares and bars are on the mild side. But for the daring, we have the semi-sweet AND spicy Gourmet Wasabi Wasabi Bar. Wow! However spicy you like it, Wasabi Chocolate is a gourmet treat for adventurous chocolate lovers.

Branson’s Chocolates, your home for wasabi chocolate, is right here in Ashland at 1662 Siskiyou Boulevard.  We’re just a block south of 7-11, in the Minute Market shopping center. We won’t be out and about in January, so stop by our store and try some Wasabi Chocolate for yourself. We’re open Monday – Saturday 10-5:30.

You can also find Branson’s Chocolates on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, and at for online chocolate shopping.

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Locals Guide: December


December is the perfect month for peppermint everything, and at Branson’s Chocolates that means Peppermint Squares, White Chocolate Peppermint Bars, and Gourmet Semi-Sweet Peppermint Bars. Our delicious Peppermint Squares have a layer of rich dark chocolate topped with a layer of smooth white chocolate and crushed peppermint candy. Our scrumptious White Chocolate Peppermint Bars mix peppermint candies and a touch of locally sourced peppermint oil right into the white chocolate. And our Gourmet Semi-Sweet Peppermint Bars have crushed peppermint candies stirred into the rich dark chocolate with even more sprinkled on top. Naughty or nice, you deserve some, so come in and pick up some for yourself.

The holiday season is fast approaching, so now is the perfect time to come in and order chocolate for the holidays. Branson’s Chocolates, your home for peppermint everything (and chocolate too!) is right here in Ashland at 1662 Siskiyou Boulevard.  We’re just a block south of 7-11, next to Abbey Carpet Mart. We will be creating chocolate deliciousness at our shop all month long, so come on in and treat yourself.  Buy chocolate for someone else too and you’re sure to end up on the ‘Nice’ list! We’re open Monday – Saturday 10-5:30.

You can also find Branson’s Chocolates on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, and at for online chocolate shopping.

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Locals Guide: October


At Branson’s Chocolates, we make our caramel, and everything else, by hand. We use a very old recipe, the highest quality creams and sugars, and cook our caramel in copper pots the old-fashioned way, all to achieve the best blend of sweet and gooey, but not sticky, caramel.

We serve our caramel plain or sea-salted; dipped in milk chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, or nothing at all, in sticks, bars, and in our almost famous caramel sauces—Gourmet Lavender Caramel Sauce using local lavender from English Lavender Farms, Gourmet Whiskey Caramel Sauce using III Spirits Whiskey, and Gourmet Caramel Sauce for the purists. In other words, there’s a caramel for everyone.

“If you haven’t tried Branson’s Chocolates, you should do so immediately.  I bought some p-nut cups and turtles for my wife… shared them with the family this weekend.  Quote from the mother-in-law: ‘that’s the best caramel I’ve ever had.’”  –Dan McKillop

“I bought two turtles last spring and still drool when I think of how amazing they were – and my friend agreed completely. You have mastered the blend of caramel with amazing flavor and chocolate.”  –Joanne Turner

You can find your caramel deliciousness right here in Ashland at Branson’s Chocolates, at 1662 Siskiyou Boulevard.  We’re just a block south of Omar’s, next to Carpet Mart. We’re open Monday – Saturday 10-5:30.

You can also find Branson’s Chocolates on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, and at for online chocolate shopping.

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Gourmet Chocolates

Locals Guide: June

Gourmet Chocolates

Here at Branson’s Chocolates we have chocolates that we call our Gourmet line. Some are not your everyday flavors, some are elevated flavors. They all are delicious and decadent. This month we are featuring our Gourmet Chocolates.

If you like your dessert a little spicy, or slightly exotic, or even a bit adventurous, we have the chocolate for you—Wasabi Ginger Chocolate. We add wasabi powder to a dark chocolate ganache square, dipped it in milk chocolate and top it with candied ginger.  It’s a gourmet treat for adventurous chocolate lovers which is inspired by a wasabi ginger potato chip.

Matcha Green Tea square is made by mixing ceremonial grade match agree tea powder into a white chocolate ganache, formed into squares, and then dipped in dark chocolate with a green Matcha chocolate stripe. According to many studies, Matcha tea makes this a sweet treat loaded with benefits:  L-Theanine, an amino acid known to create calmness and improve memory, powerful antioxidants including polyphenols and EGCg which is believed to be a powerful anti-carcinogen and catechins which help lower LDL cholesterol, to name a few. Thanks to .

Exotic jasmine tea is steeped to create the flavor in a semi-sweet ganache center, which is then dipped in delicious Belgian milk chocolate and topped with a sprinkling of jasmine tea.  Jasmine Tea Square is a delicious combination of bitter tea’s antioxidants and jasmine’s floral delicacy with gourmet Belgian chocolate.  Blissful everyday indulgence!

The best thing about Earl Gray Tea is that it is delicious, which is why BRANSON’S CHOCOLATES created our EARL GRAY TEA SQUARES. We steep Earl Gray Tea into rich cream, and then stir it into a dark chocolate ganache. We cover the ganache in milk chocolate and top it with a stripe of more dark chocolate. We are passionate about local products from local vendors, so we use tea from Full Leaf Tea Company based in White City, and cream from Umpqua Dairy.

This is just a few of our Gourmet Chocolates. To see the entire line of Gourmet Chocolates you can come into our retail location or check our website.

You can also find Branson’s Chocolates on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, and at for online chocolate shopping.

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Locals Guide: May


We have partnered with our local English Lavender Farms this month to bring you all things lavender—Lavender Ganache Squares, Lavender Sea Salt Caramels, and Gourmet Lavender Chocolate Sauce. They are all part of our gourmet line. Our delicious Lavender Chocolate confections are made using English Lavender Farms buds and essential oil, which is distilled locally in the Applegate Valley. Lavender Ganache Squares are made by steeping the buds, infusing them into a semi-sweet ganache center, then dipping the ganache in our rich semi-sweet chocolate. Lavender Sea Salt Caramels and Gourmet Lavender Chocolate Sauce are both made with the essential oil. The lavender is a subtle background flavor and beautifully complements our dark, delicious chocolate. English Lavender Farms Lavender Squares are an indulgent, aromatic treat for the senses.

The English Lavender Farm, run by Sue and Derek Owen, opened to the public for the first time in the summer of 2014. They have been planting Angustafolias (English Lavenders) since 2012 and are turning their lavender farm into a luxurious venue for weddings and other events. Their farm is set on a gentle hillside, and there are stunning vistas of row upon row of purple lavender. They have spent time in Provence with French lavender farmers, and love to discuss the history of lavender production. Their drying barn serves also as a gift shop, and it is well-stocked with a wide variety of handmade lavender products produced on the farm, including Branson’s Chocolates English Lavender Farms Lavender Sea Salt Caramels.

If you want to catch us out and about in May, we will be at—

  • The Jackson County Master Gardener’s Spring Garden Fair at the Jackson County Expo, Saturday May 5th 9am-5pm and Sunday My 6th 10am-4p.

You can find Branson’s Chocolates on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and at, or come down to our store at 1662 Siskiyou Boulevard here in Ashland. We’re just a block south of 7-11, in the Minute Market shopping center. We’re open Monday-Saturday 10-5:30. Stop on in, say Hi, and take home some Lavender Chocolate today!

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The Sweet Life in Ashland

Southern Oregon Makers: Deena Branson of Branson’s Chocolates

Travel Southern Oregon

By Eddie Wallace

Photographer Jak Wonderly

For confectioner Deena Branson, owner of Branson’s Chocolates in Ashland, there was always a dream that she would someday own and operate a successful small business, but it wasn’t until 2005 that she dared to imagine turning her passion for creating delectable chocolate confections into that business.

Fast forward to 2018, when the talented and endlessly creative lifelong Ashland resident has a thriving wholesale and retail business, featuring only the best Belgian chocolate that goes into such mouth-watering treats as Anjou pear creams, lavender squares, wasabi ginger squares and blood orange creams, as well as your more standard treats like toffees and caramels.

After spending ten years in the late 90’s and early aughts learning everything there was to know at the Ashland Fudge Company – she even trained two sets of new owners during that time  Deena and her husband Kevin leapt at the chance to purchase the equipment and recipes when the company went out of business in 2005.

Since that time, through dogged determination and countless hours of hard work, Branson’s Chocolates has steadily grown its business and burnished its reputation as Ashland’s only locally-owned, locally-produced chocolate business, culminating in the opening of their retail space in 2014.

The early years of the business were spent working out of a production facility in a business complex, producing mostly for wholesale customers. Ashland’s Paddington Station and Grange Co-op were early supporters who sold not just the chocolates, but also the custom packaging that Deena created for each wholesale customer. Today’s customers include Butler Ford, the Ashland Springs Hotel, Anderson Auto Body and many others. In addition to making the chocolates, Deena’s ability to do custom molds and packaging has been a huge selling point for clients.


Luckily, for the past five years, one hasn’t needed to be a wholesale client to enjoy the dazzling, mouthwatering array of treats that Deena, Kevin and their hard-working crew create. The retail location for Branson’s Chocolates is 1662 Siskiyou Boulevard in Ashland, and is open Monday through Saturday 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM.

Visitors to the retail shop will be greeted with a selection of chocolates that is impressive not only in taste but in variety. The ever-popular toffees and caramels are always available, but adventurous types will also find port wine ganache squares, truffles flavored with tequila (lime, sea salt and Patrón tequila), pomegranate, espresso, toasted coconut porter, pumpkin, raspberry Chambord, amaretto and so much more. Product sourcing and quality are important considerations that go into all of Deena’s creations.

A lifelong Ashland resident, Deena cherishes the supportive atmosphere for small-town businesses that Ashland offers. “We deliberately chose Ashland as the home for our business,” she says. “This is a community that is dedicated to supporting small businesses, and we are also fortunate enough to attract the kind of visitors who support local artisans and locally-owned businesses. We have people who stop by our store every year on their way out of town after their annual Ashland visit.”

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Port Ganache Square

Locals Guide: December

Port Ganache Square

Branson’s Chocolates is debuting a new chocolate just in time for the holidays—Port Ganache Squares. We start with our delicious semi-sweet chocolate and local cream, stir in a heavy drizzle of Port, let it set, and then dip it all over again in that rich semi-sweet chocolate that you love. Can you say gourmet?

Fun fact about Port—the name Port is derived from the city of Porto, Portugal, where for centuries merchant ships loaded with casks of Port began their journey up the coastline to England. Port is a fortified wine, because brandy is added during fermentation, which helped sustain the fragile wine during its voyage to England, and also made the wine considerably sweeter. Port is known to pair well with decadent desserts, which makes it a perfect match for our chocolate!

The idea for Port Ganache Squares came from our newest intern, Tori. Tori is only a junior in high school, but is working with us for her senior project because she plans on graduating a year early—talk about hard work paying off!

If you want to catch us out and about in December, you’d better hurry! We will be at—

  • The 4th Annual Christmas Showcase December 1st-3rd at the Jackson County Expo in Central Point. It’s the region’s largest holiday gift and craft show with over 190 vendors. We will be there Friday & Saturday 10am-6pm, and Sunday 10am-4pm.

The rest of the month we will be right here at our store to fill your all holiday wish lists, your must-impress gift needs, and your own candy bowls and secret stashes. We’re at 1662 Siskiyou Boulevard, just a block south of 7-11, in the Minute Market shopping center. We’re open Monday-Friday 10-6, and Saturday 11-5.

You can also find Branson’s Chocolates on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, and at for online chocolate shopping.

(Thanks to for the history of Port.)

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Customizing Chocolates

Local’s Guide: Aug 2017

Customizing Chocolates

Ask us about




The delicious finishing touch for any business, any occasion, any event!

Let us customize our delicious chocolate for you.


Custom labels can be created from your business logo, your motto, your event, your photograph, even your name, just about anything that will fit on a label.

We custom label chocolate bars for many local businesses. In fact, if you’ve had chocolate at Paddington Station, Paddington Station’s Inspired By Oregon, The Paddington Jewel Box, all nine locations of The Grange Co-Op, Tudor Guild Gift Shop, Craterian Theater, Camalot Theatre, Holly Theatre, The English Lavender Farm, Sew Creative, Griffin Creek Coffee Roasting, Kriselle Cellars, Schmidt Family Vineyards, Paschal Winery and Vineyard, or Weisinger Family Winery, you’ve probably had Branson’s Chocolates without even realizing it.

Many businesses including Abigail’s Bed and Breakfast, Bayberry Inn Bed and Breakfast, The Iris Inn B&B, McCall House Bed and Breakfast, AmeriTitle Inc., Highbanks Machining, Siskiyou Endodontics, and Larry Steiner at Edward Jones Investments use our custom labeled chocolate for Thank You Gifts.

We create custom labeled chocolate for events such as weddings, showers, races, fundraisers, corporate meetings, grand openings, promotions, company dinners–anything you want to be remembered.

We can create Custom Molded Chocolate in almost any size bar or square, with your name or logo. Just ask Butler Automotive Group, Acorn Consulting Services Inc., Ashland’s Main Street Inn, or The Blue Giraffe.

If you want to talk about customizing Branson’s Chocolates for your business or event, stop by our store at 1662 Siskiyou Boulevard here in Ashland, M-F 10-6, Sat 11-5, except August 27th we will be at The 3rd Annual Benefit Car Show at Phoenix’s Petro Truck Stop/Iron Skillet Restaurant , 10am-4pm.