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)
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)
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)
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)
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.