Fine Chocolate; a Consumer Reports Chocolate Ratings and Reviews
There is something about chocolate that makes it so desirable, so passionate and sometime sensual, so perfect for a romantic relationship. It is its smoothness, its color and its deliciously insane taste. It is its association with luxury extravaganza, with special moments and loved ones. Chocolate is, no doubt, one of the best gifts for Valentine’s Day.
But fine chocolate is hard to find. Fine chocolate is like aged wine, except that this chocolate is better when is fresh. Fine chocolate is expensive. But not so expensive that you cannot afford it. As a matter of fact, for its quality, it may be actually cheaper to get a box of the finest chocolate than any other gift.
So great is the demand for good chocolate for Valentine’s Day that the Consumer Reports has made a tradition of tasting different kinds and rating them. Below, are some brands of chocolate and assortment recommended, along with a short description, price and seller information.
The ratings take in consideration taste, flavors, price per oz., shipping costs. From 32 sample tasted for this year, (Jan. 2013), they choose only 12 and divided them in two categories: “CR Best Buy” and “Recommended”.
The Consumer Reports Best Buy chocolate:
Candinas - “ultrasmooth chocolate, dark or milk, with caramel, hazelnut, liqueur flavors and hints of fresh cream and butter”.
Comes in boxes of different sizes and costs $3.06/oz but the shipping is high. It is made by the company with the same name, located in Wisconsin. Its founder, says the company’s website, had studied the art of making chocolate in Switzerland. Buy online from candinas.com.
Jacques Torres: Jacques’ Choice - mild, dark and white, ultrasmooth chocolate with key lime, caramel, coffee, nut butter, chili pepper fillings.
They are located in New York where they own several shops. If you are in the area you should stop in one of them. Their products look fabulous. They say they use only natural ingredients for their chocolate.
The box chosen by the Consumer Reports costs $4.13/oz. But the appeal of the chocolate inside is priceless.
John & Kira’s Every Flavor Collection - “dark chocolate squares with fresh ingredients, flavored with coffee, raspberry, ginger”, mint, star anise and others. They get their ingredients from farmers from around Philadelphia.
To be honest, I haven't seen anything more seductive than John and Kira’s squares. And the price is right, with only $3.76/oz and a fair shipping price. Their chocolate is available online through the company’s website and in some specialty stores, shops and farmers market in and around Philadelphia.
L.A. Burdick Large Wood Box - “tiny bites of sophisticated and subtle flavor combination with intense chocolate”.
At $4.06/oz, their chocolate comes in a wooden box, a different packaging concept with the reusability in mind. The chocolate is hand crafted into pieces and placed inside the boxes, ready to be shipped. They have few location in Massachusetts, New York, New Hampshire. Their website, burdickcholate.com, is packed with information, from chocolate description to shipping and cocoa beans.
Fran’s 36 Piece Assorted Truffles Collection - milk and dark ultrasmooth chocolate, with chocolate fillings of hazelnut, liqueur, fruits and cinnamon. “Great for truffle lovers”, says Consumer Reports.
At $4.17/oz, they have a beautiful assortment of boxes of truffles, specially wrapped for Valentine’s Day.
Fran Bigelow, the chocolatier behind these truffles, has been named one of the best in the US and her artisan chocolate business has been regarded as the first to inspire a “renaissance” of chocolate art in America.
Fran’s has two location in Seattle, Wa, and one in Bellevue, Wa, but the products can be ordered online.
And here are the “Recommended” ones”
La Maison du Chocolat: Coffret Maison Dark and Milk - Ultrasmooth dark chocolate with chocolate based filings of hazelnut, fruits, cinnamon and liquor.
This fine chocolate is the most expensive tasted and rated by Consumer Reports, at $6.81/oz.
First opened in Paris, La Maison du Chocolat had opened other shops in Tokyo and London but anybody can buy online. Their website, lamaisonduchocolate.com that has a very distinct design and promises to ship its fine chocolate almost everywhere in the world.
Vosges Exotic Truffle Collection - if you want to try something new that this box is for you because it has unusual fillings like curry, paprika and wasabi, along with more traditional ones, wrapped up in smooth chocolate, with hints of fresh cream.
At $6.25/oz it puts it in the second position after the La Maison du Chocolat.
For Valentine day you can choose from Noir Truffle, Champagne and Chocolate, Exotic Collection or Aphrodisiac Gifts. Vosges sells its products through speciality stores around the country and online. To find out where to buy it in your area, simply go to their website and click on store locator.
Christopher Elbow - unusual combination such as buttery caramel with a blend of chili-mango or balsamic vinegar characterize this ultrasmooth chocolate.
It cost you only $5/oz to impress your loved one, with a box of the most artistic truffles you’ve ever seen.
Christopher Elbow has worked with world class chefs before discovering his love for chocolate. He opened his own company and now he sells his speciality chocolate through speciality retailers throughout the country and from his website.
Woodhouse Assortment - dark, white and milk smooth chocolate with many flavors that “explodes from the first bite”.
This chocolate costs $5.63/0z and comes from Napa, Fl.
The company is own by the Anderson family with a shop in the same location. But their products are available through woodhousechocolate.com.
And if it happens to visit their online shop, click on the link that says Chocolate Index, at right top of the page to get a glimpse of the many kinds they sell.
Other Consumer Reports reviewed chocolate brands are:
With so many delicious fine chocolate to chose from, your Valentine should be thrilled to have such a gift. But before ordering anything yet, here is a tip that I learned from my own experience:
1.make sure you do not get dark chocolate so someone who loves milk chocolate and
2. carefully review the allergy information, avoiding to give peanuts filled truffles to someone with peanut allergy.