Chocolate is THE gift for Valentine's Day--especially for chocoholics. It comes in all flavors, shapes, sizes, and fillings. With a plethora of chocolatiers producing everything from sumptuous treats to delicacies that look more like art than food, there is no end to the possible gifts to give to a chocolate lover (even if that chocolate lover is you). Chances of going wrong with this gift? Slim. That is, unless of course your significant other is on a diet, in which case, go for roses.
How to Give Chocolate As a Gift
* Make sure that the person you plan to give the chocolates to doesn't have any food allergies or specific dietary needs.
** Allergies to nuts, fruits or even gluten may pose a problem.
*** Try shopping for plain dark or milk chocolate without nuts or filling if you think someone might have a nut or fruit allergy.
*** Lucky for people with celiac disease, most chocolate is naturally gluten-free, even the kinds with nuts. When in doubt (or when you can't get a chance to read the ingredients on a given package) stick to solid, plain or nut chocolate and avoid chocolate with fillings since they are more likely to contain some sort of flour as a thickening agent.
** Vegetarians and vegans may only want chocolates without eggs, dairy, or other animal by-products, such as gelatin. Try vegan, lactose-free, or organic chocolate.
** Consider kosher chocolates if you know your honey keeps kosher.
** Thankfully for diabetics, there are a lot of sugar-free options. Some popular gourmet brands are:
*** Chuao: This is a small line of chocolates with a recent sugar-free addition to the collection.
*** Cuba Venchi: A gourmet Italian chocolate company that makes truffles, pralines, bars, and more.
*** Godiva: The popular chocolate maker wouldn't dare leave anyone out of the delicious fun.
* Chocolate doesn't have to be given by the truckload. The rule of thumb should be quality over quantity. Even a small box of fine chocolates is better than a family-sized heart box filled with half-grade sweets. High quality chocolates are usually in nicer packaging too, making them suitable gifts even without wrapping paper.
Chocolate comes in a wide variety of intensities, starting with the most mild, milk chocolate, ranging to the most intense 90% bars of dark chocolate. Part of determining the intensity of chocolate depends on the actual cocoa content. The less cocoa, the sweeter and more mild a chocolate tends to be because it contains more sugar and milk and less of the actual cocoa beans or chocolate liquor.
What type of chocolate suits you?
* Milk Chocolate: Light, sweet, and easy to eat. It combines perfectly with most fillings and nuts.
* Dark Chocolate (55%, 60%, 70% cacao): Rich and decadent. Perfect for true chocolate connoisseurs who actually want to taste the cocoa.
* Bittersweet Chocolate: This is a unique and rich chocolate that is a happy medium between dark and milk chocolate.
* White Chocolate: Delicate and very sweet. Not everyone enjoys white chocolate since it has less of a chocolate flavor. It contains cocoa butter but not cocoa liquor.
Organic Chocolate Brands
It's no wonder that chocolate is the perfect gift for Valentine's Day since it naturally contains theobromine, a chemical compound similar to caffeine. The mood enhancing qualities of theobromine are responsible for chocolate's reputation for being an aphrodisiac. Chocolate also possesses a large amount of antioxidants and may be helpful in protecting the heart--only the dark variety though.