It’s Valentine’s Day! Being a big fan of artisan chocolates, I ran a quick poll on Backyard Bite’s Facebook page to see what sorts of chocolate/ chocolatiers are on people’s radar these days. The results were somewhat expected and also delightfully surprising.
As a kid, I loved Hershey’s, Crunch and Nestle brands. They are of course, a good introduction to the world of chocolate for your average kid. They were perfect then for my young unrefined sweet tooth and my meager allowance budget. However, these chocolate brands are the equivalent to taking your beau to a Sizzler or an Olive Garden for V-Day. They are predictable and generic.
As I got older, my taste buds became more refined, as well as my obsession with darker chocolates – especially artisan, hand crafted chocolatiers and chocolate makers.
In my Facebook poll, my friends gave shout outs to their favorites like the easily available classics such as Leonidas, Lindt and Ghirardelli. A teacher of mine mentioned the popular and funky, hand-made dark chocolate company, Dude, Sweet Chocolate based out of Dallas (thanks, Andrew!) which offers the “Love Potion”, a vodka and coffee infused chocolate sauce as well as some of the tequila and bourbon varieties. (Yum! Pass the bourbon chocolate, please!)
As for me, whenever I’m stumped for Valentine’s Day gift ideas or just want to give someone I love something casual, cool and tasty, I give of course, some really good chocolates. Without further adieu, here is my Top 10 list of gourmet Chocolate ideas – for Valentine’s Day (or any day really!)
1. Coracao Confections – Truffles to die for. Gluten free, dairy free, soy free, killer-delicious, raw cacao truffles that are made by a bay area native who’s committed to making you fall in love with these good-for-you chocolates. I love their caramel bar and espresso ganache truffle. It’ll will be hard to restrain yourself from eating the whole box in one sitting!
2. Cocoagraph - I ordered a picture of my abuela and myself and sent the custom chocolate picture over to my special lady. This trending chocolate company allows you to snap and send your favorite photos to be made into custom edible chocolate polaroids. Perfect for gifting that special someone with an edible memory.
3. Moonstruck – I first sampled this Portland based chocolatier a few years back, instantly admiring them for their intricately decorated chocolates and handcrafted truffles. I was happy to learn recently that they sell their chocolate bars at my local Whole Foods!
4. Mast Brother’s – These bearded chocolate makers make making chocolate look easy. (Say that 5x fast!) Based in NYC they are available locally at Monsier Marcel locations (3rd and Fairfax farmers market, 3rd St. Promenade & Beverly Hills).
5. Compartes Chocolatier – Chocolate = Art. I started following this Westwood based chocolatier simply because of their artisan crafted chocolates were so cool and beautiful. Perfect for someone with an eye for design or art. These are so unique looking, you may have trouble eating them for fear of parting with such beauty!
6. Teuscher Chocolates – Good truffles and legit dark chocolate will run you roughly $2-4 a piece at this Swiss chocolatier. With chocolates imported directly from Zurich, Switzerland, this chocolate boutique is definately all about the quality, not the quantity. I used to work around the corner from Teuscher and would grab a mid-day truffle or I’d drink one of their gourmet hot chocolates to warm up in a sweet way. Speaking of hot chocolate…
7. Spazio Café – Gourmet drinking chocolate is this Euro cafe’s specialty! Get your sweetheart a gift card to this newly opened Italian café in Santa Monica. Along with decadently flavored espressos, you have 18 different varieties of gourmet sipping chocolates to saver and swoon over as well. It’s a perfect sip of chocolatey heaven for any chocolate lover. I liked the hazelnut and banana flavored hot chocolates!
8. Madame Chocolat – Hasty Torres, the wife of Jaques Torres, the famed New York based chocolatier a.k.a, “Mr. Chocolate” creates decadently beautiful creations. Forget chocolate hearts – get your lover some high-heels! – of the chocolate variety that is.
9. Christopher Elbow – This is a popular company based out of Kansas City which combines “modern culinary artistry” and “traditional hand craftsmanship” in their chocolate creations. I got a really cool box of colorful chocolates as a gift from my beau upon returning from a business trip in San Francisco (they have a satellite location there). These chocolates were a lovely, tasty and beautiful chocolate treat and are definately a fancy-pants (or should I say, fancy-”elbow”) chocolatier. Spy their website and drool.
10. Choffy, The Chocolate Coffee - This chocolate and coffee hybrid uses 100% Premium organic cacáo beans and supplies you with longer lasting energy without the crash or negative side effects of caffeine. It’s brewed just like a cup of coffee in a french press. Watch the video to see Choffy in action. Read more about it, here.
Want more chocolate? Watch my recap from the Chocolate Invitational, a festival of chocolate, from this past year by clicking, here.
Happy Valentine’s Day!