Valentine’s Day, at times, can feel like a minefield. It can be difficult to figure out what to buy your significant other. Around here, we find it’s pretty hard to go wrong with a box of exceptional chocolates. We tried some of the best truffles, bonbons, pralines, caramels, and bars around to make your job a little easier and satisfy those in your life with a sweet tooth.
Starting out more than a decade ago by making toffees in Los Angeles with her partner, Stan Weightman Jr., Valerie Gordon has grown her confections company to also create exceptional truffles, chocolate bars, preserves, petits fours, and more. The self-trained Gordon has a knack for harnessing the bounty of L.A.’s farmers’ markets to craft sweets with imaginative flavor profiles. For her Grand Valentine’s Assortment, she includes gilded truffles, caramelia hearts, liquid caramel hearts, hearts made of bittersweet chocolate and toffee bits, golden hearts, and champagne truffles. Right now, Gordon is making some of the most luxuriously silky truffles you’re going to find most anywhere. They feel so rich and decadent that they’re almost a whole dessert in themselves.
Seattle is filled with icons: the Space Needle, Amazon, Microsoft, Jimi Hendrix, and Ken Griffey Jr. Fran Bigelow deserves to be on the list. She started her fine chocolates company in the Emerald City back in 1982 and the company has since grown into one of the country’s great chocolatiers. Everything from Fran’s is exceptional, but what really sets the place apart is their sea salt caramels. At Valentine’s Day, Fran’s Truffle & Caramel Heart Boxes come stocked with an assortment of fine truffles from milk chocolate to raspberry to oolong tea–infused. The highlight of the set is the assortment of caramels, with gray salt sourced from the coast of Brittany, and sea salt smoked over Welsh oak.
Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate
Gabriel Kreuther’s culinary bona fides are legit. In 2018, the chef’s eponymous New York restaurant graduated from one Michelin star to the rarefied air of two. The restaurant shares the honor with 12 others in the city, but his fellow two-star recipients don’t also have an outstanding chocolatier business located next door. In a partnership with pastry chef Marc Aumont, the duo opened their shop in 2016 and now ship nationwide. The Valentine’s Selection comes in 24- and 42-piece boxes, packed with a varying assortment of unique flavors from lemongrass to Mexican hot chocolate to apple yuzu, as well as a special pink mixed-berry yogurt bar.
With the goal of protecting the Ecuadoran rain forest, Jerry Toth cofounded To’ak by cultivating the exceptional cacao trees in the country’s Manabí province. Working with local cultivators, they treat chocolate like vintners treat wine, creating bars that express the terroir of the region as well as the growing conditions of a given year. For those looking to avoid a heart-shaped box this Valentine’s Day, To’ak offers beautifully packaged bars of premium chocolate, like the Rain Harvest 2017, which features notes of pistachio, orange bitters, and red fruits.
Founded in 1926 in a small shop in Brussels, Godiva has turned into a world-striding fine chocolate Goliath. The chocolatier became known for its pralines and dark chocolate mousse, and this Valentine’s Day it offers those combined with a slightly more playful confection. In the Valentine’s Day Assortment Gift Box, Godiva subverts the traditional truffle form by crafting cupcake-inspired chocolates. A chocolate shell is filled with ganache at the base and then topped with a swirl of mousse.