Valentine’s Day Chocolate Indulgence – Gift Guide
To many of my readers who know me, I am a chocoholic. I just need to have my fill of chocolate everyday in some fashion whether it’s in the form of a chocolate bar, ice cream sundae (hot fudge) to a good ol’ cup of rich hot chocolate. For me, Valentine’s Day is just a holiday to eat more chocolate. Not so much about the romantic connotation. So, for those of you who are like me who just use Valentine’s Day as an excuse to eat more chocolate please look through my list.
Amano Artisanal Chocolates
I have been a fan of Amano’s excellent, award-winning origin chocolate bars for the past several years. Recently, I discovered they make and sell bonbons. Pastry Chef Rebecca Millican utilizes their great chocolate and the freshest ingredients to make very excellent bonbons.
Where to purchase: 6-piece box for $11.99, 12-piece box for $24.99, and up Only through their website, as linked above.
Chuao Chocolatier is the first Venezuelan Chocolatier based in the United States and Southern California’s premier artisan chocolatier founded in 2002. Unusual chocolate flavors like their Firecracker (chocolate pod-shaped bars that’s filled with popping candy) is their specialty. Chuao’s Valentine’s Day premium collection is their Elegancia Jewelry Box, a two-tiered, 32-piece collection of assorted chocolates that would satisfy any chocoholic’s craving.
Christopher Elbow Artisanal Chocolates
Christopher Elbow’s bonbons are the most eye-catching bonbons I’ve seen by far. And yes, they are as delicious as they are beautiful. Frankly, if you have to ask me which of his 25-flavor assortment is best? I cannot choose one. Every flavor is vibrant on your palate and they are not saccharine sweet that I can easily eat the entire box in one sitting. Even though, I know I’m asking for diabetes but I think it’s worth it.
Where to purchase: Since Mr. Elbow’s boutiques are only in Kansas City, Missouri (where he is from) and in San Francisco, our only way to obtain his amazing bonbons are only through their online store (the link is above).
Several years ago, when the annual Chocolate Show in New York City used to be exciting, I remembered trying Coppeneur Chocolate and liking their chocolates. I thought it’s about time to refresh my memory and have a couple of boxes from their Calgary, Canada online shop. Of their collection, my favorite was their alcohol-infused bonbons (or truffles, as they call it). These are not suitable for children to consume since they do pack a boozy punch at every bite. Their non-alcoholic pralines are great as well but what makes Coppeneur different from the others that I’ve tried besides the fact they are Canadian chocolates, is that they are the only ones that really have an alcohol-infused collection. If you are into single origin and single plantation bars, they also very good.
Where to purchase: For their bonbons, go to their online store (link above). You may get their single origin and plantation chocolate bars at The Meadow (link) on Hudson Street.
Oh, I know most of you chocolate snobs are turning your backs on me now because I’m writing about Godiva. But you have to give them credit for being the “inspirational” brand for chocoholics (as they are for Starbucks with coffee). They were, for me at least, my gateway back then into high-end chocolate obsession. I do admit to an occasional Godiva chocolate slips past my lips every once in a while. Anyway, their chocolates are still good, though a tad sweet than my preferences these days. The Lady Godiva 2011 Limited Edition Gift Tin ($65) is a beautifully designed tin by New York artists Kurt Huggins and Zelda Devon. This opens to three tiers of their bonbons, caramels, and pralines. Their 12-piece Valentine’s Day Edition assortment ($25) includes their signature truffles and seasonal truffles decorated with hearts to reflect on the Valentine’s holiday: Chocolate Mousse in a milk chocolate shell, Chocolate Soufflé enrobed in dark chocolate, and Passion Fruit in white chocolate.
Where to purchase: You may use their Store Locator to find your nearest boutique (though I know there are many in Manhattan and in NYC, in general) or at their site, as linked above.
This chocolate company from San Francisco, makes me envy San Franciscans just because they have an easier access to their chocolates! I adore everything from Recchiuti from their signature Black Box (16 pieces, 6.25 ounces; $44) of inspirational, well balanced bonbons; their Caramel to the Third Power (C3) (24 pieces, 6 ounces; $35) for the richest caramels (they have different flavors from butterscotch, fleur de sel, etc.) kissed with a layer of chocolate. Their Champagne truffles (6 ounces; $25) are a great expression of the Schramsberg Blanc de Noir sparkling wine, as you eat this truffle, you can almost feel the delicate effervescence and floral notes of this wine against their creamy dark chocolate base. (As you might recall, I have mentioned the Schramsberg house in my Christmas gift wine guide and admired their sparkling wines).
Where to purchase: The Black Box is available in NYC at Dean & Deluca, while other collections have to be ordered online.
If you want something much more local, you can look to Tumbador over in Brooklyn. Tumbador makes a great balanced bonbon yet intense in flavor. This holiday season, they are featuring the flavors in their Seven Deadly Sins Collection: Envy (exquisitely tart, sweet and floral from the passion fruit filling), Wrath (toasted almonds that are barely sweetened, in a very good way; it’s almond praline), Lust (pomegranate; a lovely balance of sweet and tart), Greed (amazing 75%, dark chocolate without being bitter in its relatively high cacao percentage), Sloth (cajeta; think dulce de leche; sweet and caramel-ly), and Pride (Cassis Champagne; a tart from the currant with a touch of acidity from the Champagne used). There is an additional bonbon piece to this collection; Gluttony (a large square bonbon that is made of 55% dark chocolate ganache, topped with edible gold flake).
Where to purchase: Bonbon prices start at 18-piece for $26, and up Only through their website, as linked above.
For more photos of the chocolates listed above, please flip through my slideshow below: