Valentine’s Day Chocolate Selection by Estelle

My friend Marina never misses a party. Her dad always told her that since there are so many reasons in life to lament that  you should jump on any excuse to celebrate. I love that philosophy. This year again, I’ll make a point to celebrate Valentine’s Day. I like how the holiday brightens an otherwise dreary month, so on February 14, I’ll squeeze my husband a little tighter, make the kids waffles for breakfast, and organize a chocolate tasting with my friends. While I have not finalized my guest list, I’ve already selected the chocolate bars I’ll unwrap that day. You’ll find them all on the Bar & Cocoa online shop (pretty box optional) so you too can organize you own chocolate tasting party.

As a long time Bar & Cocoa subscriber (you can watch my review of an early box here), I’ve tried many of the bars carried in shop. The ones I picked here are crafted with a high level of skill and care, with that bit of a playfulness that is perfect for Valentine’s Day. That day, I’ll be looking for the sweetness of milk chocolate, the surprise of inclusions, and the comfort of caramel notes. So whether you’ll keep these bars for yourself (we’re not judging) or share them with someone you love, I hope they’ll turn your day into a party.

Amano Artisan Chocolate, Raspberry Rose 55%

French pastry chef Pierre Hermé was granted superstar status after creating the Ispahan, a dessert combining rose, raspberry, and litchi flavors in one delicate pastry. While visiting Paris, Art Pollard, co-founder of Amano, was so blown away by the flavor combination that he created this Raspberry Rose bar when returning to the US. The result? A bar so good it regularly sells out. Luckily, Bar & Cocoa still has the best-selling chocolate in shop, so you can bring a bit of Paris to your Valentine’s Day celebration.

Artisan du Chocolat No 1 Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel

Yes, this bar looks very similar to a certain perfume packaging and yes, it feels every bit as luxurious. This bar was born out of Gerald Coleman’s desire to recreate the experience of a salted caramel chocolate truffle in bar form. Made of bean-to-bar dark chocolate blended with caramel powder, the bar will wow you with its unusually creamy and smooth texture. Real chocolate does not get more indulgent than this.

Castronovo Sierra Nevada, Columbia 63% Dark Milk Chocolate

Don’t let the old-fashioned packaging fool you, you’ll go crazy for this milk chocolate and its dark, almost burnt, caramel notes. Unlike the No. 1 bar featured above, the caramel notes in this bar come from the beans, not from any added flavors. This chocolate will stop you in your tracks and leave you in awe at the wonders of cacao. A touch of milk lends the bar the right amount of sweetness to this award-winning chocolate.

Dick Taylor Fig Chocolate 72%

From the letter-pressed packaging to the intricate mold, you’ll love everything about a Dick Taylor bar. In Black Fig, the maker has paired the citrus notes of a Madagascar chocolate with the sweetness of dried black mission figs. The bar is studded with fruits, so that each bite offers the right balance of smooth and chewy.

Raaka Bourbon Cask Aged 82%

I am usually not a fan of unroasted virgin chocolate, but I do make an exception for Raaka. From the creamy coconut milk to the pink sea salt, I have been of fan every bar I tried from this Brooklyn-based company. This Valentine’s Day, I’m partial to the smoky sweetness of  this bourbon cask aged Belize bar. There’s something sensual about the idea of cacao nibs soaking up bourbon flavor in oak barrels. I think you’ll like it.

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