Yes, chocolate is the go-to choice for Valentine’s Day. But going and getting the same thing you got last year probably won’t cut it, and you’re not sure where to look. Give one of these a shot to mix it up this year:
Mayana Chocolate: 16-piece Collection, $37/box+ $15 ground shipping, online or in store only (upper left)
Daniel Herskovic’s collection is a rather fun trek through experimental flavor profiles. He touches on some of the classics, from a buttery fleur de sel to caramel with cacao nibs, but the good stuff is when he goes for new ideas. The lime and raspberry stood out with a clear raspberry taste along with lime, neither overpowering or falling prey to the cloying fake raspberry taste we sometimes tolerate even in good chocolate. The earl grey with lemon and passionfruit (pictured) taste like both, clearly and strongly. It’s a great way to get your feet wet and see how far chocolate can go, especially with a great glass of wine.
Poco Dolce: Bittersweet Chocolate Tiles, 24 tiles for $45, online or at specialty stores (upper right)
One of my favorite confections right now are the burnt caramel toffees from Poco Dolce – bittersweet chocolate thickly enrobes a smoky, burnt caramel toffee center, with flecks of salt. If you’re not a fan of darker chocolate, you won’t like these, but the tiles range in flavor from almond to ginger, so there’s something for everyone. Two of the tiles make a lovely snack for one, so a little will go a long way.
Wild Ophelia: Four bars for $13, online or at Whole Foods and other specialty stores (lower left)
Wild Ophelia is the sister brand to Vosges Haut-Chocolat, the brand that tends to go for caramel with fun ingredient pairings. If you’re a fan of adding bacon to chocolate but not with caramel, grab one or more of these brightly colored boxes, which cover a vicarious trek through Americana from Salted Chowchilla Almond (41% milk chocolate and almonds) to New Orleans Chili (70% dark chocolate, spice, and red pepper). I’m a fan of the Southern Hibiscus Peach, which is floral and fruity, but there’s even a rather awesome jerky flavor. Go be creative.
Nature’s All Foods: Dark Chocolate Strawberries, $6.99 for a 2.8 ounce bag at Whole Foods
I was originally supposed to be highlighting this brand for healthy snacking for February, as it’s also National Snack Food Month. Then I ate a few. They’re organic, Non-GMO certified, fair trade freeze-dried strawberries coated in chocolate, sweet and addictive, like eating rather awesome candy. Yes, it’s not as sexy a present as a box of chocolates, but get these, some hot fudge, and a pint of your sweetheart’s favorite ice cream, and have a night in.