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Valentine’s Day chocolates for the romantic foodie

Source: Fantom-xp.com

“Chocolate, coffee, men. Some things are better rich.” I laughed aloud when I first read this declaration off a small plaque by the cash register at the Danish Pastry House (sadly, I cannot take credit for this slogan). I wholeheartedly agree that chocolate and coffee are better rich, and a man need only have the wealth (and intuition) to occasionally buy me rich chocolate and coffee to please me.

We have entered the month of February, which means that Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. While this day is often received with mixed emotions, I have always been rather fond of the fact that regardless of whether it is filled with joy or heartbreak, excitement or bitterness, it tends to include the consumption of chocolate.

In my opinion, Hershey’s Kisses as Valentine’s Day gifts are cute but rather corny and cliché. And after all, chocolate is better rich. In the spirit of the approaching holiday, I took it upon myself to undergo the arduous business of sampling different types of chocolate in an attempt to determine which are good alternatives to more standard Valentine’s Day purchases. So if you are looking for something delicious to impress your sweetheart or commemorating the holiday by treating yourself to something delicious, here are some suggestions:

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Bapchi makes small and large chocolate bars that come in a variety of unconventional flavors. I was not adventurous enough to try the one that included sesame seeds and wasabi, so I opted for the miniature “Caramel Toffee Bar,” which was a milk chocolate bar (45% cacao) containing small bits of toffee, walnuts, and pecans. The bar was as salty as it was sweet and slightly textured as a result of the mix-ins. The salty/sweet combo was immensely satisfying, to my surprise, and the chocolate epitomized the melt-in-your-mouth phenomenon, despite its crunchy components. However, the bar was arguably not worth $2.79, as it was roughly the size of my index finger.

In search of something more exotic, I tried a round of Taza “Mexican-style stone ground” orange and cinnamon flavored chocolate. As the description promised, this dark chocolate was grainy and contained a lovely balance of sweetness, citrus, and spice. Though its distinctive flavor could make the chocolate overwhelming if eaten in one sitting, the bar was a refreshing change of pace.

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I was also drawn to a small, individually wrapped dark chocolate truffle made by Venchi because it was entitled “crème brûlée.” The bittersweet shell covered in even-more-bitter dark chocolate bits wonderfully offset the ultra-sweet caramel inside. The truffle in no way embodied the custard dessert, but that discrepancy certainly did not lessen my enjoyment.

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My personal favorite was “The Espresso Bar” by Zoe’s Chocolate Co. The description printed on the simple, cardboard label, “For the coffee lover, deep, dark Swiss chocolate marbled with real Italian espresso-flavored white chocolate,” fails to illustrate this flavorful masterpiece. The white chocolate swirl emulated a well-done cappuccino and was a creamy compliment to the rich, but not overly sweet, dark chocolate base. No description could do this bar justice, and the only solution is to try it!

-Alison Sikowitz

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