Chocolate Buying Tips
Buy the Best Chocolate for Your Sweetheart this Valentine’s Day
There are so many chocolate choices out there these days – dark, extra dark, free trade, milk, organic, bittersweet, semi sweet … on and on and on. So, since I am a chocolate fan and I’ve been taught a few things over the years about chocolate, I thought I would share a few tips with you about buying chocolate for your loved ones this Valentine’s Day.
Chocolate Buying Tips
1. Stay away from the heart shaped boxes.
Yes, the heart shaped boxes are for chocolate buyers who do not know better. They are filled with mostly processed sugars, fake flavors and really bad chocolate (or really, chocolate flavored sugar). Marketers know we associate imagery with holidays and package these things to trick us into thinking that we have to buy them during the Valentine’s season.
Chocolate used to be as valuable as gold (read more over here at the Smithsonian) and by giving your loved ones the fake stuff in a red heart box, you might as well say “here are some chemicals for you.” Yes, I’m stretching. But really, look for the pure stuff, read the ingredients (if you don’t know what it is don’t buy it), walk away from the Valentine’s Day displays and walk down the chocolate aisle in your local specialty grocery store, or look up a local chocolate shop online and stop in and learn where your chocolate comes from.
2. Buy 60% Cocoa or More
Anything less is just chocolate flavored sugar and cream. If you’re going to buy chocolate, buy chocolate. The higher percentage of cocoa in your chocolate the more it is going to taste like real chocolate. I’m a real fan of the 90% cocoa, but that is something to work your taste buds up to. Start with a minimum of 60% cocoa and go from there. Chocolate over 70% cocoa has actually shown to have health benefits. (Plus!)
3. Explore Sweet/Salt Combos
One of the best chocolates out there is Sea Salt Chocolate. There is something about the salt and sweet combo that is amazing! So look for it and try it out on your own — I promise you will want to share. It is amazing on it’s own and even better on a S’more or used in recipes. You will also see savory ingredients like wasabi, salted nuts, spices and even bacon used in chocolate these days. All of which are amazing.
4. Check Expiration Dates
Before you buy any pre-packaged chocolates, check their expiration dates and storage suggestions. Anything that has been sitting on a shelf for a while will have a white film on it from the chocolate starting to separate and age. Chocolate stored wrong will be not-so-enjoyable to your sweetheart.
5. Keep it Simple
When it doubt, keep it simple. Grab 3-4 of the best chocolate bars you can find, wrap them up in a red bow and give them to your sweetheart. I recommend some simple brands you can get at most grocery stores these days – Green & Black’s, Vosges, Ghirardelli (60% Cocoa and up) and Scharffen Berger. There is nothing better than ending the day with a beautiful piece of chocolate melting in your mouth. Buy them simple, great chocolate and I promise your loved ones will be happy for evenings to come …
Happy Chocolate (I mean Valentine’s) Day!