Take my word for it: I eat a lot of chocolate. You’re shocked, right? Any time I pay a visit to Publix or Target, I stop by the gourmet chocolate aisle and load up my cart with new-to-me bars or cookies on occasion. Half the time, they’re a home run (see: Trader Joe’s Fireworks Chocolate Bar); other times they’re not (Madécasse’s Sea Salt & Nibs, I’m looking at you).
In honor of the forthcoming Valentine’s Day, I figured I’d give you fellow chocoholics and cookie lovers a rundown of a few of my favorites—as well as a chance to win a sweet prize of your own.
I received a whimsical box of Christmas-themed chocolate bars in the mail even before I went to Seattle over the holidays, and let’s just say that I spent a whole lot of my time there looking for this local chocolate purveyor’s small-batch bars and truffles. (I finally located them in the airport of all places!) Made with natural ingredients, On Dasher! On Ginger! (the holiday edition of Seattle Chocolate Company’s jcoco line) was the best ginger candy I have tasted ever—and you should know that I consider ginger one of the main food groups—and I’m distraught that I might have to wait until Christmas 2016 to find it again. Luckily, Seattle Chocolates has dozens of alternatives that have me all cat-with-heart-eyes Emoji-ing like the Pink Bubbly Bar (with popping candy meant to emulate the feel of champagne bubbles) or the Birthday Cake Batter Milk Chocolate Bar (is this even real life?)—and even an entire section devoted to Valentine’s gifts. I seriously want to try every last bar that this company with the on-point packaging (and the products to back it) makes.
Perfect gift: Truffle Assortment ($11.95)
Goo Goo Cluster
If someone gave me a Goo Goo, I’d love them forever. I should rephrase that: Several people have given me Goo Goos, and in turn I promised to name my next dog(s) after them. That’s how serious I am about these little flavorful clusters. At this point, I don’t have to tell you much about the historic Nashville brand (it’s been around more than a century!) as you’ve probably read it all here before. Its downtown shop just off of Broadway—complete with a fancy new dessert bar opening Valentine’s week—means I never quite stick to my diet as it’s way too easy to pop in for a sample of those Premium Goos. Bonus: The candy company’s collaboration with Southern Living to celebrate the magazine’s 50th anniversary means the Special Edition take on a hummingbird cake is out just in time for V-Day.
photo by Southern Fatty
Perfect gift: Hummingbird Premium Goo Goo ($8.99)
I discovered this health-conscious brand via Instagram, and they promptly sent me a box of products to try (don’t worry, guys, I tried them all out for you). I try to eat Paleo-ish when possible, and I love that Ginnybakes products are all gluten free, non-GMO and vegan (my favorite is the Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bliss in case you were curious). Even better, they have mini-bags of cookies that are just 130 calories and 8 grams of sugar, and I feel pretty guiltless eating a bag after dinner. This is the perfect solution for the loved one in your life who is gluten-sensitive or has dining restrictions—and it’s still 100% delicious, too. You can buy them via their website, but they’re also sold in Wal-Mart stores.
Perfect gift: The Blissed Out Bundle ($24)
I have a confession to make: Sometimes, I’ll wander into Target just to stroll down their premium chocolate aisle and see what catches my eye. A few months ago, that was this San Diego chocolate company, and I’ve been a convert ever since—I have a very unhealthy obsession with the Potato Chip ChocoPod bar, and I’m not even going to try to hide it.
Perfect Gift: Love Child Bonbon Collection ($16.95)
Rachel’s Bake Lab
My sister gave me one of these melt-in-your-mouth cookies that her Semester at Sea friend made, and man were they were divine (uh, sorry, Mom—I might have accidentally eaten yours, too!). I absolutely love all the different flavors Rachel offers in her Etsy store—from red velvet white chocolate to peppermint fudge and even a three-month cookie club membership!—and personally would be happy with a dozen of each if any secret admirer wants to shower me with cookies this Valentine’s Day (*hint, hint, SVV, hint, hint*).
Perfect Gift: a dozen Strawberry Shortcake Cookies ($18)
The Spa at Hershey Hotel
For those who prefer to wear your chocolate instead of eat it, a) I commend you for your self-restraint and b) I’ve got just the product for you! While this isn’t technically chocolate, it does hail from Hershey (Pennsylvania) and has Hershey (chocolate) in it, so it totally counts, right? Meet the signature product line for the Spa at the Hotel Hershey: With cocoa massage oil, cocoa body wash, cocoa lotion, chocolate sugar scrub and more, you can get all blissed out on bath products made from chocolate.
Perfect Gift: Basket of Products from the Spa at the Hotel Hershey (prices vary)
Olive & Sinclair
Is it just me or does my own Music City have some killer artisanal chocolate brands? I’ve been smitten with Olive & Sinclair, Tennessee’s only bean-to-bar company made in East Nashville, and I can’t get enough of the Mexican-Style Cinnamon Chili bar or the duck fat caramels. However, the Cherry Bombs recently made Food & Wine‘s top five candies list for this year, so you should probably just order a tin for yourself while you’re shopping for that special someone. It seems only fair.
Perfect Gift: V-Day Mexican Style Heart ($12.99)
While I think any of these treats would make amazing gifts, Seattle Chocolates has kindly offered to send a prize to a randomly chose reader. All you have to do is answer this question: Who would you give your chocolate bundle to if you won?
Contest CLOSED: Congrats to Brooke for winning some delicious Seattle Chocolates!
Note: Some of these products were gifted to me in the past, while others I purchased at the store. No companies paid to be featured in this post; I simply wanted to round up some of my favorite treats for Valentine’s Day—you know, do the hard research for you since I’m naturally sweet like that and all.
I would give it to meee….My husband doesn’t like candy!
Mine either! What is it about men and sweets?? I mean, I guess more for us, right?!
(I will happily take all of SVV’s sweets.)
I would give them to my husband because he always shares with me–what a sweetheart!
Couldn’t get the widget to work. I’m not going to lie. I’d totally keep them all. And maybe share. Maybe.
Good to know. Will use random number generator for this one instead 😉
(I wouldn’t share either!!!)
When it comes to chocolate it’s hard to share, but, I would share with Bill because he’s a chocoholic too. They all sound delish.
Yeah, I definitely have a no-sharing policy when it comes to chocolate 😉
If this were for straight up sugary candy, I’d gift to my husband, but I am totally more of a chocolate snob than he is…sooooooo I’d keep it for myself 😉
I fully support that!
Definitely my husband! He has a massive sweet tooth. But hopefully he would share with me 🙂
It is obscene the amount of Chauo chocolate my hubby and I eat – I LOVE the firecracker bar, but there are so many good ones. In Seattle, Fran has my heart. Her dark chocolate sea salt caramels are delicious and I would buy a box of three every week at my grocery store in Berkeley but I have been to her shop in Seattle as well. She had two chocolate “sous chefs” not sure it is the same in the chocolate world who opened up a small chocolate shop in the Heathman hotel in Portland (which happened to be across the street from the bank I worked for at the time) they do flights of hot chocolate that are to-die-for, you don’t want to leave the shop and I didn’t without buying $100 worth of local chocolate bars! I haven’t heard of the Seersucker sea salt dark chocolate ganache, I will have to look into that one!
Ahhhh I haven’t had the firecracker bar—now I must try it (that’s my favorite of the Trader Joe’s bars). Totally forgot about Fran, too—Microsoft gave us a box last year, and they are so freakin’ good. Obviously, you should detour through Nashville on your road trip so that we can experience Seersucker together!!!
I would share them among my grand children
You’re a nice grandmother!!!
hey girl – Love the post! I love, love, love chocolate! I would have to have it all to myself(but my husband would probably steal a piece or two ha,ha)
If I won some chocolate, you better believe SVV would not get more than a bite 😉
Yum! This post makes my mouth water! I’m a huge fan of Colts Chocolate Grahams from your neck of the woods. If I won I would try to share with my husband.
I still haven’t checked them out but I just drove past their store today and was thinking I definitely need to!
I would give them to my husband 🙂 thanks!
You’re a better wife than I am! 😉
I would give it to my grandmother Effie because she would in turn share it with me… hahahaha #honesty
Grandmothers are the best at giving back gifts to the giver 😉
I would share them with my husband and three teenage daughters! I’d probably give a little extra to the husband to get some brownie points!!
Mother of the year! You’re more generous than I am 😉
I would gladly give them to my husband, Sean, who is SO awesome that he would share them with me! I might also give them to my mom who would share them with me over a bottle of wine. So pretty much anyone that I knew would share them with me…
I think chocolates for wine is a fair trade(/share) 😉
I would keep some and give some. That’s allowed, right? 🙂
Oh yeah, girl, it is! I wouldn’t judge if you kept it ALL for yourself 😉
I would send it to my friend in Australia as part of a package I plan to send him for his birthday ?
Sweet friend! What else is in there?
A variety of things. Wireless speakers from skullcandy. I love this brand they have great warranties. Green Chile beef jerky. Pop rocks, there’s a whole story that goes behind with that. A travel kit because he’s always traveling. And I’m thinking about sending him a copy of the Grisha trilogy. I really want him to have a great birthday.
Thanks for some great ideas! Between my guy and me, we’re serious about sweets!
This is why we’re (virtual) friends 😉
Would share with my husband and son. Love Colts Chocolate in Nashville too, you should visit them if you have never been!
I haven’t been there but they’re right next door to my yoga studio so maybe I should swing by there after class tomorrow 😉
If any of them are nut-free, I’d share with my mom. The rest I would share with my husband!
Call me selfish, but if I win chocolate, I’m hoarding it all!
I live a few blocks from the Bloomer Chocolate Factory in Chicago – which means if the wind is blowing in the right direction, all I have to do is open a window and breathe in the sweet smell of cocoa. Yum!