Best Valentine’s Chocolates

By Ariana Santoro

There are only a few days left before Valentine’s Day and you’ve forgotten a gift for your loved one. Not everyone can afford the price of gourmet chocolates. Let’s face it – we’re all a little strapped for cash right now.
For the budget conscious, the local grocery store carries everything you need to melt your lover’s heart and to excite his or her taste buds. It’s time to ditch the Hershey’s Kisses. They may be cute and perfect for making a sweet pun,, but they in no way approach the crème de la crème in this selection.
When it comes to the solid grocery chocolates, the milk and dark varieties of the same brands conveniently ranked the same on my taste-o-meter. Listed below from worst to best are your main contenders.
6 – In last place we have the British confection Cadbury, which is too sweet for a truly sophisticated chocoholic. One bite will leave your mouth begging for a quick rinse.
5 – Hershey’s classic bar is chalky and also has a funky aftertaste. You shouldn’t feel compelled to stick with well-known names like Hershey when better quality is just a shelf away. And please, save your palate by kindly passing over Hershey’s Bliss.
4 – For the environmentally friendly, Wild Harvest makes organic milk and dark bars from freely traded beans. Both are very dry but have no aftertaste. Unfortunately, neither has the incredible chocolate flavor either. So if you must indulge in fairly traded goodies, head over to Trader Joe’s.

3 – Trader Joe’s carries Swiss chocolate made from fairly traded beans, but their silky smooth texture doesn’t make up for the pronounced aftertaste.
2 – While Trader Joe’s “classic” bars are comparable to the Hershey’s in presentation, their composition is better. These bars are smooth, have no aftertaste and don’t melt nearly as fast. The store doesn’t release information about suppliers, though. Since they’re known to change without warning, the chocolate you taste now might be different the next time you try it.
1 – Now for the winner – and a surprising one at that – Dove has the best all around texture and taste. It manages to be sweet and smooth without coating your mouth with goop. It only costs 50 cents more for a bag of foil-wrapped heats (solid or filled) than a bag of Hershey’s mistakenly named Bliss. If you’re looking to make this chocolate gift-worthy, buy an assorted bag of these treats for less than five dollars to fill a unique container.
As for the filled chocolates, Lindt offers the smoothest selection in this group but may not be satisfactory to a true chocoholic. Their bars are wafer thin and therefore only manage to provide minimal satisfaction. Still, they have a number of intriguing flavors. My favorite in their selection is “intense orange.” The name may seem a little fierce, but the flavor added by slivers of almond and orange in no way overpowers the dark chocolate taste.
The spherical shape of Lindor’s truffles is novel but somewhat difficult to handle. Even so, the hard shell and creamy fillings are definitely satisfying if you’re looking for a taste that’s rich and sumptuous. As an added plus, the individual packaging makes it easier to gift than most bars.
The winner in this category is Ghiradelli. Want something a little more exotic than the staple milk chocolate and caramel combo? Try their raspberry filled dark chocolates.
The bottom line? Steer clear of big names like Hershey and Cadbury. If you have to get your chocolate from the grocery store, the best to gift and easily the best tasting are individually wrapped, bite-sized bits. Happy munching!