11/13/2012 09:51 am ET Updated Jan 13, 2013

The 15th Annual Chocolate Show Highlights (PHOTOS)

There is no other show in New York City that unites chocolate experts, artisans, chefs and consumers together like the annual Chocolate Show, which is currently in its 15th year. This is a show where you can learn from experts, sample the goodies, learn about the artistry of chocolate, purchase chocolate at wholesale prices and pick up on interesting chocolate trends. The idea of the show is to give consumers an idea of what a Salon du Chocolat is about.

This year's version included the triumphant return of some chocolate manufacturers who had been absent in previous years, including MarieBelle, which recently opened a store in Kyoto. Over 10 chocolatiers, including the show stalwart E. Guittard, were unable to make it to the show because they had been affected by hurricane Sandy. The show, which ran through Sunday, November 11, 2012, encouraged all attendees to bring a coat for donation, which also guaranteed you to enter a raffle to win a pair of Broadway show tickets.

As for trends, it seemed that several chocolatiers veered towards the high end variety, with makers trying to revive rare and nearly extinct varieties of cocoa. Some chocolatiers, like Oliver Kita, went the health-conscious route, making 100 percent vegan bars with pure plant-based sources, because consumers are increasingly becoming lactose intolerant.

Some raw food chocolate makers, like Gnosis, reformulated and repackaged their chocolate, instead of debuting a new variety. Vanessa Barg, owner of Gnosis, advocates drinking chocolate as a healthy way of consuming chocolate. "In general, consumers are gravitating towards healthier products," says Barg, "and some of our chocolates have superfoods in them, like goji berry, and those that provide health benefits." Eclat debuted the "rarest chocolate bar in the world," and owner Christopher Curtin says that there are some cocoa varieties that have just four trees in total.

A new international award debuted this year, with the winner picked in a blind tasting by chocolatiers and chefs from around the world. This year's award went to premium organic chocolate manufacturer Pacari.

The 15th Annual New York City Chocolate Show Highlights

Photo Credit: Matthew Minucci