Food & Wine
When a new batch of chocolates arrives at Food & Wine's office for taste-testing, the staff goes into a frenzy. For Valentine's Day, our editors had the difficult task of sampling traditional heart-shape-boxed chocolates that you can find right in your neighborhood drugstore. It wasn't all pretty, but here are some of the top picks. While boxed chocolates are a no-brainer for the holiday, the judges also revealed some of their favorite unique bars that can be tied with a ribbon for a more personalized gift--from gorgeously-wrapped single-origin chocolate to potato-chip-filled bars, which are perfect for Valentines who love candy that's salty and sweet.
Dove Silky Smooth Select Chocolates Heart Box
Description: Milk chocolate and peanut butter truffle hearts, dark chocolate hearts, caramel hearts
Staff comments: "I think these are really good. The peanut butter truffle hearts are yummy. The shell-to-filling ratio and textures are perfect. Good balance between chocolate and peanut buttery goodness. Crowd-pleasing. Nice and creamy chocolate with a good mouth feel." $15 for 8.13 oz. heart-shaped tin, dovechocolate.com
Hershey's Pot of Gold Premium Collection Red Pillow Pattern Heart Box
Description: Assorted truffles, nut clusters and caramels
Staff comments: "Caramel texture is nice and smooth. The almond crème is sweet, creamy and pleasant. Pecan caramel cluster is good too-caramel is very soft but nice if you like very sweet chocolate." $10 for 8.9 oz heart-shaped box; hersheys.com.
Green & Black's Organic Ginger Bar
Description: Dark chocolate bar with organic crystallized ginger
Staff comments: "The thick slices of crystallized ginger add zing." $3.50 for 3.5 oz; greenandblacks.com.
Godiva Nut and Caramel Gift Box
Description: Assorted chocolate-covered caramel and nut pieces
Staff comments: "I especially like the gooey caramels. The praline fillings are delicious, creamy and nutty. Chocolate is creamy and has nice depth of flavor." $32 for 10.6 oz; godiva.com.
Chuao Chocolatier's Potato Chips in Chocolate Bar
Description: Milk chocolate bar with kettle cooked potato chips
Staff comments: "This is a brilliant idea. Two of my favorite things: the salty, crunchy chips contrasted with creamy milk chocolate." $6 for 2.82 oz; chuaochocolatier.com.
Scharffen Berger 62% Cacao Dark Chocolate Nibby
Description: Dark chocolate bar with roasted cacao beans
Staff comments: "The cacao nibs add an awesome crunch." $5 for 3 oz; scharffenberger.com.
Veruca Chocolates Box
Description: Handmade filled-chocolate truffles in assorted flavors like hazelnut-cinnamon, lavender-vanilla, burnt caramel ganache and dulce de leche
Staff comments: "Wow these are terrific. The flavors are strong and straightforward. Lavender-vanilla is floral but subtle enough." $40 for 18 piece box; verucachocolates.com.
Mast Brothers Chocolates, Assorted Bars
Description: Gift-paper wrapped single-origin dark chocolate bars named after the sources of the cacao beans like Papua New Guinea, Moho River, Sambirano Valley, and La Red de Guaconejo
Staff comments: "These are for the intrepid chocolate taster who really, really likes dark chocolate. They're interesting and certainly showcase the tangy, tropical, jungle-y, terroir-driven flavors of chocolate. They are all so distinct! La Red is really tobacco-y, but good, and the Papua New Guinea is so smoky-like whiskey!" $8 for 2.5 oz; mastbrothers.com.
Suzanne's Chocolaterie's Chocolate Bars
Description: Elegant slim dark chocolate bars filled with caramel crunch, hazelnut praline and coconut crème
Staff comments: "The caramel crunch bar is amazing and so smart with the super light, airy honeycomb--love it. The delicate chocolate shell is smooth, has a deep, rich flavor, a nice snap and a great bitter finish." $5.50 for 1.5 oz; suzanneschocolaterie.com.
More from Food & Wine:
50 Best Bars in America
Best Hot Chocolate in the U.S.
Best Grilled Cheese in the U.S.
Best Fried Chicken in the U.S.
Best Burgers in the U.S.
Best Pizza Places in the U.S.
Best Ice Cream Spots in the U.S.
Valentine's Day Recipes
Food & Wine
SUPPER CLUB PICK
My after-school snack was a sacred ritual. I sat on the carpet in my parents' bedroom at a low table, the television turned to "I Dream of Jeannie," and ate a peanut butter and honey sandwich cut into neat squares. I wasn't fussy about crusts. I just loved the sticky pairing of creamy peanut butter with syrupy golden sweetness drizzled from a honey bear in diagonals across the soft white bread. Nothing else--save for maybe apples and peanut butter in a pinch--could have made for as sweet an