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Valentine's Day ... a taste panel decides ...


Gifted Gourmet
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If you don't make your own candy, and I'll presume that many of us fall into that group, even though we are gourmet-ish and consider buying ready-made chocolates a tad too simplistic, there are many types of chocolate candy which are more than presentable for the confection-laden Valentine's Day ...

Apparently, someone at Money magazine (a no-brainer now that I come to think of it) has collected a panel of women who range in age from 20 to seventy who would participate in a chocolate taste test specifically, Valentine's Day sweets ... taste and the presentation of the candy was important here and, of course, monetary value ... :hmmm:

Money CNN

Of the choices that were available to the tasters:

Harry & David Grand Collection

Vosges Haut-Chocolat: Exotic Truffle Collection

Godiva: 36-piece Gold Ballotin

Whitman's: 32-ounce Sampler

Target: Choxie Signature Collection

While there are no major surprises here, what chocolates would you have added (to these choices to make things more interesting)? :rolleyes:

Or are these options satisfactory enough?

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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The results were, I think, pretty predictable. I'm sure they were only testing brands available everywhere in the US, but if you add limited availability chocolates, I'd go with See's Candy. Not only do they have a variety of ready-to-go boxes, but if you go into one of their stores, you can design your own box, which is really great. My uncle used to give us gift certificates for a 1-lb. box for Chirstmas, and it was great to be able to get a pound of exactly what we wanted, rather than get a pre-packed box that always seemed to contain something that no one wanted.

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If I could pick, I'd probably go with an assortment of signature bars from Chocolate Bar...but that's just me. :wink:

I got a few boxes of Godiva at the holidays, and I have to agree - too sweet, though some of the fillings were quite good, particularly the raspberry.

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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particularly the raspberry.

Indeed! The raspberry Godiva filling is by far my favorite of their offerings, and to be honest I don't usually like fruit fillings.

My chocolate tastes are fairly simple, though, and I've really come to appreciate the average cashier checkout Ritter Sports which are so popular in Germany (and now readily available in the US! I noticed loads at Trader Joes last time I was home). The milk chocolate is fine, but I also love all levels of their dark chocolates, as well. mm..

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The results were, I think, pretty predictable. I'm sure they were only testing brands available everywhere in the US, but if you add limited availability chocolates, I'd go with See's Candy. Not only do they have a variety of ready-to-go boxes, but if you go into one of their stores, you can design your own box, which is really great. My uncle used to give us gift certificates for a 1-lb. box for Chirstmas, and it was great to be able to get a pound of exactly what we wanted, rather than get a pre-packed box that always seemed to contain something that no one wanted.

I'd have to agree with Jaz, I'd gladly take See's over Godiva any day. See's is one of the things I miss about living in California.

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okay, okay! I am ordering a See's Valentine's box for myself ... and I will personally vouch for the sublime differences ...  :wink:

Might I ask why they are so incredibly reasonably priced?  :rolleyes:

That's a good question. I've read they use E. Guittard chocolate too. If you're ever in Cali and walk into a See's, they'll hand you a sample without you having to ask for one.

My favorites are scotch mallow, coconut buttercream, and california brittle. I think I might need to order myself a box.

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For another taste test of chocolates, see this report from NPR's website. Among their winners:

The  Madagascar and Ocumare bars from Amano Chocolate are wrapped in gold foil and taste "almost perfect. I want more!" says one tester. A warning: It's bitter and dark. If you don't like the "weirdly sour" taste of dark chocolate, stay away.
and
The gray and smoked salted caramels from Seattle-based Fran's are what you want to get someone you really, really like. They received a unanimous seal of approval from our staff, who couldn't resist the odd combo of sweet and salty flavors. "Could this be the perfect chocolate?" asked one tester.

Which reminded me how much I like Fran's caramels -- I highly recommend them if you can find them.

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I can only guess that See's prices are so low because they pour the coating rather than molding the chocolate (Im not sure that's what they do. As I said - a guess). They are a different beast than Godiva. I like them very much. I also like the paper-thin molded shells and light fillings of the chocolates my dad brought me from Bruges.

Locally, we have Chuao Chocolatier, who would love to become nationally known.

I wonder why a Ghiradellhi sampler wasnt on the list? (Not a fav of mine, but certainly one for many people).

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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Oh you silly kids.....talking about chocolate somewhere other than the Pastry forum? You'll never get the right answers. Here's some help:

Pish-Pish Confections

Christopher Elbow

Garrison

DePaula Confections

See's is just fine but they make very sweet chocolates and although they do use Guittard chocolate it is not the Etienne line. As a true California girl, I have eaten many pieces from See's but can't manage it anymore.

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I ordered a box of the Christopher Elbow Valentine's Day Assortment for my wife and she has called me 4 times today since opening them to tell me how beautiful they are! When I asked if she tasted any yet, she said they were too pretty to eat!! Check 'em out at www.elbowchocolates.com

Bob R in OKC

Bob R in OKC

Home Brewer, Beer & Food Lover!

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I never have been able to figure out the appeal of See's. Is it a nostalgia thing? Godiva isn't bad--about the best available where I am, which is too bad.

I bought my husband a box of chocolates from Costco this year, and they look pretty good. I haven't tried any yet--if they're good, I'm going to buy my own box. Silly husband; he's finally realized that flowers are good, but hasn't quite caught on to buying chocolates for me yet!

I just baked some brownies and the scent of chocolate is permeating the house at the moment. They may be simple but they sure are good. I may have to make some truffles, now that I've read this thread.

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