If homemade Valentine's treats just aren't your thing, no matter how easy, you can still show that it's the thought that counts. Stores abound with boxes of truffles at this time of year (even at CVS!), but there are plenty of options for classy, inexpensive Valentine's goodies.
There options from around Boston can be picked up last minute, but even more importantly - they are unique. Truffles that are cuter than stuffed animals, high-end Italian chocolate, and even cocoa flavored pasta - you can't go wrong with these one of a kind picks. If you are looking to drop a little more money for something really special - but still won't give your credit card too much of a work out - check out the bonus buys listed at each location.
Chocolate Cherry Cookies
Canto 6 Bakery & Cafe, Jamaica Plain
There is a rumor that the secret to Canto 6's delicious pastries is real lard, but whatever they use is so good it doesn't matter. Nowhere in the city boasts better French-style baking. For Valentine's Day, get a half dozen of the gooey, chocolate-packed Chocolate Cherry cookies ($1.75 each). The bitterness of the cherries perfectly pairs with the sweetness of the chocolate for a cookie that will seduce your date for you.
bonus buy: Inferno truffles, playing off of the Dante reference in the bakery's name, are handmade and every bit as sinful as they sound.
Salumiera Italiana, North End
Perugina is *the* chocolate brand in Italy. As Italian as Hershey's is American, and equally well-known, Perugina's chocolate bars are, arguably, the perfect bar chocolate ($2-4/bar). Their chocolate is incredibly smooth and will absolutely melt on your date's tongue (or wherever else chocolate is ending up this Valentine's Day). Even the bittersweet and other high cocoa content content bars retain an unbeatably soft texture, without the bite dark chocolate can sometimes pick up.
bonus buy: Though the price is heavily padded with import costs, the mini-panettones, fatto a mano (handmade) in Italy, are unlike any dessert you will find in the U.S.
Sweet, Back Bay and Harvard Square
With an old-fashioned pop shop look and classic movies constantly running in the background, Sweet exudes old-fashioned class. Though the selection of mini cupcakes can change from day to day, you really can't go wrong with anything on the menu. The quality of the food 100% lives up to the classiness of the locale. For Valentine's Day, they have Red Velvet featuring Bensdorp Dutch cocoa and Strawberries and Cream with Madagascar vanilla bean sweet cake. A box of four minis will run you $7, or pick up an assortment of 10 for $16.50. Even the boxes are so nice your sweetheart will want to save them.
bonus buy: If your significant other has a furry friend as the other love of their life, pick up a bunch of Sweet's pupcakes.
Hotel Chocolat, Back Bay
Hotel Chocolat staff greet you with the graciousness and poise that you would except at a high-end hotel, offering you large tastes of chocolate, asking if they can show you around, and if this is your first visit. But this is just a store, not a hotel, though the well-decorated interior may have you a bit confused. Resist the huge chocolate boxes near the entrance and welcoming salespeople and make a beeline for the back of the store, where the real value resides. Along three walls in the back are Selectors, large bars of chocolate and mini boxes of massive truffles clocking in at $8 each or $18 for three.
bonus buy: Penne with pure unsweetened cocoa is not something you will find in even the most specialty pasta store, but they have it here $12.
Penguin and Mouse Truffles
L.A. Burdick Handmade Chocolates, Harvard Square
Cute and chocolate - two words not often able to describe one object, but quite aptly fit the penguin and mouse truffles at L.A. Burdick. Rich, delicious, adorable and artistic would also fit the bill. These truffles are the equivalent of getting chocolates and a stuffed animal, all in one. So charming to look at that you don't want to eat them, but such high quality chocolate, that you really only need to eat one at a time. Favor sized boxes start at $3.50 for one mouse or peguin, up to $11.50 for four.
bonus buy: The insanely rich hot chocolate is what causes out-the-door lines at Burdicks, and they have packages available for purchase as well.