The Superbowl is over! Thanks goodness. Frankly if I saw one more post about recipes for half time snacks I was going to go long and never come back. Not that I haven't been busy. I've been eating chocolate, consider it a warm up for Valentine's Day. There is a lot of not so good chocolate out there, and I'd hate to think you'd end up with some by mistake. What you need is someone you can trust to try before you buy. In this regard, let me be of service. Without further ado, here are my chocolate picks for Valentine's Day.
1st–New and Notable
Art Pollard of Amano Chocolate is a mad genius when it comes to chocolate and while a bit wacky, under the surface he is a true perfectionist. He's won just about every award there is to win for his chocolate bars, and his latest introduction are boxes of chocolate confections. They are insanely good. They have a wonderfully delicate texture. Each flavor I tried was better than the next. The flavors are elegant and include ingredients like honey, cardamom, black pepper, key lime, and tangerine. Oh so good! But unfortunately in very limited production. If you can get your hands on a box, they are truly for a chocolate connoisseur. Do not waste them on anyone undeserving. While one chocolate is very rich and satisfying, you will find it hard to keep your hands of the rest. Only the highest quality ingredients are used, not even lecithin makes it into these gems. The 12 piece box is $24.99.
Michael Recchiuti is a very talented chocolatier who makes some chocolate confections that might cause you to swoon. His chocolates are not fussy, but always beautiful. Top of the list are his burnt caramel chocolate. Very few things taste better when burnt, but Recchiuti takes caramel just to the edge, making it less sweet but richer and more sophisticated. The texture is velvety and luscious. A box full of these is good for the indecisive. Every chocolate is the same. This season his Hearts & Arrows box is so pretty it will charm the pants off of your beloved. Which, I believe, is the point of this holiday. The 9 piece box is $25.
3rd–Up and Coming
Socola chocolates is a fairly new chocolate company started by sisters Susan and Wendy Lieu. There chocolates are not nearly as refined as the ones from Recchiuti or Amano, but the Aphrodite's Delight box includes some very lovely flavors. They make a burnt caramel which tastes more like ganache, with a touch of sea salt, a very good raspberry pate de fruit covered in chocolate and my favorite, the "sweetheart sammee" filled with strawberry jelly and some freshly ground peanuts. It's what a peanut butter and jelly sandwich might taste like, in heaven. The chocolate coverture is a bit more brittle than I prefer, and these chocolates are more about the filling than the chocolate, but I still enjoyed them. 12 pieces for $25.95
Vosges chocolates and their creator, Katrina Markoff are masterful when it comes to marketing. But when it comes to chocolate, I'm on the fence. Sometimes I like Vosges chocolates, and other times I think they miss the mark. The Sweet Coquette collection, at $48 for 16 pieces, it's by far the most expensive. The packaging is stunning and the flavors are all intended to be aphrodisiacs. The story behind each flavor is very interesting, but the results are mixed. The idea of an oyster flavored truffle is intriguing, but ultimately the result is overly sweet. The flavors are referred to as "parfums" which is interesting, because some have so many floral notes that they end up tasting like perfume. Flavors include absinthe, cinnamon, rose water, guajillo and pasilla chillies. If you are enchanted by the aphrodisiac stories and like intensely flavored chocolates, this might be the chocolate for you.
All chocolates were provided as either samples or as gifts. I tasted some chocolates that I would not recommend, and chose not to review them.