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EAT ME: A Valentine’s Day Dark Chocolate Gift Guide: PART 1

Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching and for a good number of you out there, you probably have already started thinking about what to get your sweetheart. For me, there is no better way to say Happy Valentine’s Day than with chocolate. Especially dark decadent chocolate! Dark chocolate is the best way to say, “I love you” (or so I thought.)

Companion photos for the guide. Not all products have photos or there are more products pictures, but due to space allotted could not be in this slide show. Please refer to the hyperlink attached to the product for details.
Eat Me!
GI Michael Schmidt

I know there are many people out there who share my passion for the aphrodisiac that is dark chocolate. I decided that it was time for me to put together a gift guide filled with the best dark chocolate delights from the very best chocolatiers. I put a call out over the Internet to see what response I would get. Within an hour, I had chocolate makers from around the country singing the praises of their tasty treats saying, “Include me in your gift guide!”

But chocolatiers were not the only ones sending me their information. Liquor companies, beauty aides and cosmetic companies, candle makers and popcorn products, along with many other companies, were touting their product as the perfect pairing for dark chocolate or telling me how their product had dark chocolate somehow incorporated into it. I knew I was on to something I had not even thought about. Like a runaway train, my gift guide took on a life of its very own.

You need not search any further if you are having trouble finding the perfect gift for your Mr. or Ms. Right. Take a look inside, as I am sure you will find something that will surely fit your sweetie, as well as your wallet.

I had over 100 manufacturers contact me, each willing to send me samples of their fine product(s) to taste or test. Needless to say, I am 10 pounds heavier as I did sample every single chocolate item sent to me. (What I must do in the name of journalistic integrity!)

I also tested all the non-edible products that included coffees, teas, books, sheets, and cologne and even sheets. After all was said and done, I selected 49 product companies for my gift guide. This is not to say that the remaining manufacturers had bad products - not at all. They just did not have a product I thought had that unique character to be considered as a special gift on Valentine’s Day.

This gift guide is so large that I had to break in up into two parts. What you are reading now and the products that are featured represent Part One. The other parts will immediately follow, so check for it to have the complete guide.

Remember, Valentine’s Day is a symbolic holiday. Therefore, think about what you are going to give you beloved in a special and way unique to the both of you. Your card and your gift represent how you feel about your significant other and the relationship you share. What I have put together here gives fresh ideas to same old, same old.

Let’s start first with the chocolate! Your sweetheart will melt over these fun gift chocolates. Who doesn’t love the taste and feel of luxurious dark chocolate floating on the tongue and gliding down the throat? Your honey can’t get any sweeter than these fine candies:

Funley’s Stix in the Mud make the perfect something sweet for your sweetheart this Valentine’s day. Stix in the Mud are whole grain cookie bits covered in pure milk chocolate or a milk/dark chocolate blend. They come in Original, Caramel and Peanut Butter. NO preservatives, NO artificial ingredients and GMO free!

Xocolates Aynouse from Formaggio Kitchen features rustic, simple and pure chocolate made using ancient Spanish techniques. Based in the town of Agramunt, Spain, all chocolate is stone-ground using a blend of three origins of cacao beans (Africa, Venezuela and Ecuador). This chocolate is dark and intense with a grainy sweetness and an earthy backdrop of flavor.

Marich’s Premium Chocolates are heaven on earth. Caramel Hearts are the perfect way to say I love you! This delicious treat is made with caramel and comes in creamy milk and rich dark chocolate. Marich’s Chocolate Strawberries are sure to make your Valentine smile. This scrumptious treat is made with dried strawberries in dark chocolate and a silky strawberry white chocolate. Marich’s Triple Chocolate Toffee is made with premium toffee covered in luxurious milk, dark and marbled dark and white chocolate. A 4.5oz box of each confection costs only $5.00.

Moonstruck Chocolate will teach you more about amore than Cher ever learned in the movie. These handcrafted, artisan chocolates are the gift that will make your sweetheart's heart melt.

A gift of dark chocolate made with Peru's finest organic cocoa from Lake Champlain Chocolates comes presented in a handsome gift box covered in hearts, flowers and classic Valentine messages. A tempting taste of romance, each bite of organic dark chocolate reveals notes of juicy red berry, a sweet kiss of fragrant vanilla and a seductive, smooth finish ($6.00).

Vermont Nut Free Chocolate offers a whimsical variety of special treats including "Sweetheart Toffee Crunch Bark,” a rich crunchy, buttery toffee coated with a thin layer of delicious milk or dark chocolate (10oz, $13.95), “Cupid Heart,” a chocolate heart with an adorable cupid centered on top (4.25oz., $6.85), Mini Hearts (4oz., $6.25), and Heart Shaped Truffles ($13).

Rose Bar comes from Righteously Raw Chocolate. Blended in this decadent truffle are sensational layers of tastes beginning with sumptuous dark raspberry and delicious sweet beet and ending on notes of rich chocolate and fragrant rose (Retail $5.49 - $5.79). Or try their Coconut Macaroons - made utilizing some of the most righteously nutritious superfoods on the planet, these unique coconut macaroon truffles give you everything you could ask for. (Retail $7.99 - $8.49).

Alter Eco Truffles reinvented those round colorful, twist-wrap truffles you see at grocery store checkout counters everywhere, using health-boosting coconut oil, organic ingredients, fair trade chocolate, and even compostable packaging. Launched in October 2013 with two classic flavors: Black (Dark Chocolate) and Velvet (Dark Milk Chocolate). SRP is $7.99 (10-pack).

Show some animal love when you buy The Forever Mocha bar from Rescue Bar, a striking and velvety pastiche of dark chocolate, coffee and hazelnuts. Peanut Butter Pit Bull is a crispy peanut butter bar enrobed by dark chocolate. Rescue Bar reminds people that dogs and cats love you for life.

Hotel Chocolat promises pure chocolate luxury with their award winning 70% house dark and signature 40% milk chocolate. Try Love Me Do Balsamic Caramels, six deviously delicious soft caramels paired with cocoa balsamic vinegar ($8.00); Love Notes, 12 irresistible chocolate hearts with romantic hidden messages ($32.00); and Straight From The Heart, an amazing, large heart-shaped rigid box, beautifully adorned with gold foil containing 36 glamorous chocolate pralines, real champagne truffles, smooth caramels and other delights ($94.00).

Dark and lovely is the handmade chocolates that are made low heat to preserve the health benefits of raw cacao using only the highest quality “superfood” and organic ingredients, Raw Chocolate Love is chocolate as it should be: 100% pure, raw, and jam-packed with antioxidants that nourish mind, body and soul. Flavors include Dark Almond Love, Cinnamon Pecan Love, Dark Coconut Love, Dark Mint Elegance, Double Dark Love (85% Cacao), Sea Salt Love, Dark Peanut Butter Love, Fresh Orange Blossom, Dark Orange Love (85%), and Dark Espresso Love.

Torn Ranch offers unique, mouthwatering sweets, from decadent truffles to chocolate-dipped fruit to dark chocolate bars, all created with a custom blend of ethically-sourced and sustainably-farmed cocoa beans and infused with unique natural flavors such as fine wine, rich coffee, aromatic teas, and tree-ripened fruit. One bite of these and you will be in heaven. The raspberry with coffee is my favorite. I could eat these all day.

The 9 Piece Gift Set by Maggie Louise Confections is an assorted mix of artfully elegant confections hand-crafted from the finest, freshest ingredients, wrapped in gorgeous lavender, black and gold. Flavors include: chocolate caramel with sea salt, dark chocolate vanilla bean, peanut butter milk chocolate, malted milk ball and dark chocolate coffee. SRP $20.25 per box; hand painted hearts are SRP $2.50 each.

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