Three Things to Know When Buying Chocolates for Your Valentine


A red, heart-shaped box filled with sinfully rich chocolates is always welcome on Valentine's Day!

By FamilyTime

 If you want to give your Valentine chocolates this year, but you are not sure how to find the best, read on.

1. Look for Quality
High-quality chocolates are sold in the United States. This wasn't always the case - Europe had the corner on quality chocolates for years and many of the best are still produced there. Luckily, these are imported to our shores.

Both small and large manufacturers make quality chocolates. These rarely are sold in the corner convenience store. You will have to go to a chocolate shop, gourmet store, or fine department store to find them.

You can also order quality chocolate over the Internet. This is perhaps one of the best ways to insure you will get freshly made, top-notch chocolates.

2. Understand Quality
Artisan chocolates are made by hand using fine couverture chocolate and other first-rate ingredients.

Couverture chocolate contains an especially high percentage of cocoa butter - the rich and indescribably seductive fat present in cocoa beans. The best chocolates have more than a little extra fat added during processing.

Most fine chocolates are made with bittersweet couverture. This is not to say that you can't find excellent milk and white chocolate truffles and filled chocolates. You can. But once you develop a taste for bittersweet (or "dark chocolate"), you may very well come to prefer it.

3. Pay Attention to Freshness
Chocolates are best when freshly made, which is to say no more than a few weeks before purchase. If you are fortunate enough to live near a chocolate shop that does a brisk business (and most do around Valentine's Day!), you can be quite certain the chocolates are fresh.

When you enter the shop, scrutinize the chocolates on display. If they show any sign of chocolate bloom - appear to be dusted or streaked with a powdery white cast - turn on your heel and walk out. The chocolates have been improperly stored.

If the chocolates are glossy and fresh looking, chat with the proprietor. Does he make his own chocolates? If not, how often are they shipped? When did those in the display cases arrive?

If you decide to buy pre-packed boxes, which are usually extremely pretty, ask the shop owner when they were packed. Otherwise, pick and choose among the varieties available. This is an exercise in indulgent excess!

Finally, don't be surprised if the chocolates you buy cost between $30 and $35 a pound - or more! Although you can find very good chocolates for $10 or $15 less, this is generally the price of quality.

Even half a pound of the very best is a lovely way to say "Happy Valentine's Day"