Chocolate, says former craft chocolate-maker Suhayl Ramirez, has been a gifted sweet for centuries; offered as a form of welcome in Aztec and Mayan cultures, given at court in Europe, and shared as a gesture of love in the Victorian era. That ritual has clearly persisted, with chocolate given on all kinds of occasions around the world still today. Every Christmas of my childhood, for example, my mother would give me Godiva chocolates, and the gold box—ensconcing luxurious sweets—still sends my heart aflutter.
There are, in my estimation, few finer things to be given than a bundle of bars or truffles delivered, perhaps by surprise, directly to your door. Whether your favorite chocolate lover prefers dark and complex, creamy and spreadable, or in-your-face flavors, there’s a gift out there for them. But well-crafted, delicious treats abound, so finding just the right thing can feel a bit dizzying. Here, we’ve rounded up the best chocolate gifts for the person in your life who can’t go without—these are our seven favorites.
Features to Keep in Mind
When it comes to delivery, gift-givers should consider the temperature. “Heat/sun and light are all enemies of chocolate,” says Mary Luz Mejia, journalist, chocolate aficionado, and International Institute of Chocolate and Cacao Tasting Level II Certified Chocolate Taster. High-quality chocolate, she says, should be shipped with ice packs and sent out to recipients as quickly as possible (in other words, if you’re looking to purchase chocolate as a gift, make sure you time it correctly). Look for chocolates that are appropriately packaged and shipped for delivery.
Ingredients & Flavor
“Chocolate” is a broad term describing a variety of products that are all produced differently and often contain different ingredients. At its core, chocolate is a natural product made from three ingredients: chocolate liquor, made from ground and roasted cacao beans; cocoa butter, which is the natural fat present in the beans; and sugar. “When we talk about percentages, we’re referring to how much cacao solid is in a product, in relation to any other ingredients,” says Ramirez. “The higher the percentage, the more cacao in the chocolate, and the darker the chocolate will be.”
With more cocoa content, she says, there is less room for other ingredients, like sugar. Flavor profiles in chocolate can vary, depending on where the beans come from, the grinding process, and the other ingredients present. Still, Ramirez says, percentages can offer some insight into flavor. “Dark chocolate with a high cocoa content will have a tendency towards bitterness and can be quite tannic,” while she defines milk chocolate as possessing “a creamier mouthfeel” and more sweetness. Depending on the bean, says Mejia, “you can get flavors ranging from caramel/dulce de leche, honey, raisins, dried fruit, or nuts.” But the way chocolate tastes, she says, depends on the cacao used.
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Raaka Chocolate Organic Chocolate Library Gift Box
Variety is the spice of life, and this chocolate collection, available in sets of three or eight, offers no lack of it. Flavors like Cabernet Sauvignon, bananas foster, and green tea offer something a little more sophisticated than the typical bar of milk or dark chocolate. These bespoke food gift baskets, if you will, come with detailed booklets about Raaka’s sourcing and overall process.
Best Value: Phillip Ashley Chocolates Signature 6-Piece
For less than $30, treat your special someone to a set of elegant, handcrafted chocolates. These fair-trade confections are works of art, jewel-toned and packed up in a gift-worthy black box. Flavors change depending on the season, but here’s what doesn’t: These sweet masterpieces are a steal at this price.
Best Truffles: Godiva Chocolatier Patisserie Dessert Truffles
Established Belgian chocolatier Godiva shows why experience matters with their expertly crafted 24-chocolate dessert truffle selection. Some of the outrageously delicious flavors in this collection include strawberry crème tart, tiramisu, Black Forest cake, crème brûlée, and vanilla dulce de leche. The baby blue box is a work of art in and of itself—certainly the best gift box for a truffle enthusiast.
Best Vegan: Hu Dark Chocolate Bars
There has never been more exciting vegan chocolate options from which to choose. We love the Hu Dark Chocolate Bars collection, which includes eight bars that are paleo, vegan, organic, and soy-free. They also have no emulsifiers, gluten, or even refined sugar, using unrefined coconut sugar instead. (But please take note: the use of coconut sugar means they are more susceptible to melting when shipped to warm locations.) The octet features an assortment of exquisite flavors: crunch mint, almond butter, cashew butter, hazelnut butter, 70 percent cacao dark chocolate, salted dark chocolate, vanilla crunch, and hazelnut butter-orange vanilla.
Best Packaging: Harlem Chocolate Factory Golden Brownstone Gift Set
Founded in 2015 by Jessica Spaulding and Asha Dixon, Harlem Chocolate Factory’s six-bar gift set includes individually wrapped chocolate bars crafted in the shape of a Harlem brownstone—bow window and all—and then dusted in gold. Each set comes with two 72 percent chocolate bars, two 38 percent milk chocolate bars, and two 31 percent white chocolate bars. The finishing touch? Boxes and bars are adorned with iconic images of Harlem, a welcome piece of art among all that snail mail.
Best Chocolate Spread: Venchi Suprema Dark Chocolate Spread
A step up from Nutella, this rich spread is perfect for gilding toasted sourdough, drizzling on ice cream, or eating straight from the spoon. Made from a combination of hazelnut, dark chocolate, and extra virgin olive oil, this compelling treat is creamy and just a bit fruity. Made in Italy, it uses natural ingredients, little sugar, and no artificial ingredients. Better yet? It’s even gluten-free.
Best Novelty: Ticket Chocolate DIY S’Mores Kit
Did someone say campfire? For those recipients who love a throwback, or have a penchant for the ooey-gooey, this kit from Ticket Chocolate makes towering s’mores fit for kids and adults alike. The sustainable sweet company, based in the San Francisco Bay Area, makes four versions: classic, peppermint, dulce de leche, and chocolate. Each one comes with two packages of all the ingredients, and the graham crackers and marshmallows are homemade, too, for the ultimate snack.
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