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Valentine's Day: Gift ideas for 2014

Love & Chocolate
Love & Chocolate
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Here we are again, Valentine's Day is fast approaching and you need ideas to keep the "happy" in Happy Valentine's Day, don't you? Did you know that chocolate was once used to secure sexual favors from women? Things really haven't changed all that much. I suggest you buy some chocolate - go now!

Forget champagne and flowers go for chocolate, chocolate, chocolate

Jerry Swain is the founder of Jer's Chocolates. He's also an all around great guy and one of my favorite chocolatiers (yes, I have favorites!). Jer's one pound box of chocolates is the perfect gift for your Valentine and a wonderful way to sweeten any day. Love can come in all sizes, and so do Jer's New Valentine’s Day Gift Boxes. Choose from quarter, half, and one pound gift boxes as a sweet way to celebrate with your sweetheart.

Enjoy one of Jer's blends of all natural, gourmet 38% Milk Chocolate, 72% Dark Chocolate, and 35% White Chocolate in Wafers! This decadent ethically sourced chocolate can be used in recipes or enjoyed right out of the package. These heavenly chocolates will satisfy the cravings of any chocoholic! Great for snacking, cooking, baking, or pairing with wine! www.jers.com

Go the luxury route

Armani/Dolci and Neuhaus Chocolates are guaranteed to woo the chocolate lover of your affections in style.

Belgium chocolatier, Neuhaus - the creator of the praline - presents Heart to Heart by Neuhaus. These luxurious chocolate assortments contain classic pralines alongside new Dark Chocolate with Raspberry and Milk Chocolate with Caramel Fleur de Sel ganache flavors presented in a heart shaped leather box. The medium leather box includes customizable 30-piece assortment of new and classic praline and ganache flavors for $65. Larger and smaller boxes are also available. www.neuhauschocolates.com

Armani/Dolci is celebrating Valentine's Day with an exquisite collection of dark chocolate offered in an assortment of sizes and shapes. Options range from gifts of affordable luxury to true and sweet indulgence. The special romantic packaging is sure to impress. The heart shaped gift box contains a set of four chocolates embossed with the Armani logo for $18. A personalized card can be included in the packaging. The 16-piece Praline Set features an assortment of refined dark chocolate pralines prepared with prime quality ingredients and ancient recipes from Piedmont's chocolatier tradition. Stand out flavors include a saffron cream, coffee glanduja, blueberry cream and Italian chili pepper for $38. http://armanidolci.com

Go for dinner and cocktails

Planning a dinner out? You will need a place with a great Valentine's cocktail. Check out NYY Steak in Midtown Manhattan. Just one block from Rockefeller Center, NYY Steak is rich with New York Yankees history and design, this 200 seat, three-story space features a custom made Signature Wall adorned with 86 autographs of legendary Yankee players. NYY Steak is also home to a cocktail guaranteed to spice up your Valentine's celebration - The Closer!

Created by Mike Koresch, here's the recipe for The Closer:

1.5 oz Godiva Chocolate
1.0 oz. Absolute Vanilla
.25 oz. Kahlua
.25 oz. Frangelico
Top with Luxardo Maraschino Cherry juice, Grand Marnier and egg white infused foam. Garnish with dark chocolate shavings and a chocolate covered strawberry.

Yes, I would say that is a closer! www.nyysteak.com

Go Green - Shop the Frog

How lovebirds spoil one another this Valentine's Day can have a tremendous impact on the planet - good or bad. Chocolate is a favorite Valentine's Day gift for many, but few realize that cocoa is farmed on over 18 million acres of tropical land and provides a livelihood for some 40 million people. Choosing sustainably produced chocolates is a simple way to spoil your loved one without spoiling the planet.

It's really easy, just look for the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal on chocolates - the seal of the green frog! The Rainforest Alliance works with people whose livelihoods depend on the land, helping them transform the way they grow food, harvest wood and host travelers. Rainforest Alliance works to bring responsibly produced goods and services to a global marketplace where the demand for sustainability is growing steadily. Find out where you can shop the frog for your chocolates here: www.rainforest-alliance.org/green-living/shopthefrog

Go for Pig Poop

OK, I realize this might not sound all that romantic, but hear me out. There are two food groups that most people absolutely love - bacon and chocolate. They are food groups, right? Chef Lawrence Rosenberg thinks so and he has created a line of chocolate and bacon products to encourage decadent indulgence!

Bacon Bites has it all. There are Chocolate Bacon Roses, Bacon Bars, Bacon Chocolate covered Twinkies, Bacon Chocolate covered Oreos and even a Bacon Chocolate Voodoo doll - for those ex-lovers no doubt. And then there's my favorite - Pig Poop!

Pig Poop is all the bite size, broken, bacon exposed and damaged pieces of the delicious chocolate covered bacon. It is delicious, but not so pretty so Larry named it Pig Poop! www.baconbites.com

However you choose to celebrate Valentine's Day, I wish you love and chocolate - in all its forms. Happy Valentine's Day!