Chocolate Roundup

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and – strictly for research purposes of course! – I’ve been sampling various chocolates I received or bought (guilty!) around Christmas.  Not being one to look a gift horse, even a herd of them, in the mouth, here’s a rundown of what I’ve enjoyed.

They were all good, and two of them, the Donna & Company and Thomas Sweet, were even made in New Jersey.  Norman Love is from Florida, my sister-in-law’s cousin (a serious foodie) orders them each year, and I have to say they are exquisite. This year’s gift was of single-origin chocolates, a past year it was filled chocolates with outstanding flavors. Thomas Sweet chocolates were more of an old-fashioned assortment, and I love that they include crunchy chocolate-covered honeycomb, one of my lifelong favorites. I had a lot of fun with the wide selection in that box, and they are surely a quintessential Princeton gift.

Readers know that I’ve always loved New Jersey’s Donna & Company’s three lines, the Tuscan inspired Donna Toscano (what you see below), CocoaBee (incorporating NJ honey and bee pollen), and the newest, Fundamental, made with just three ingredients (no dairy, no soy). You’ll find them at Brick Farm Market, and at the Slow Food indoor market at Tre Piani on Saturday January 11. Her Valentine’s collection is just becoming available, the flavors are Rose Heart, Absinthe, Vanilla Grapefruit, Hibiscus Caramel, and Passion Fruit.

You’ll notice another photo here, of Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Collection, which I snagged one fall day, one for a friend, one for me to try. These are actually pretty good for the very modest price, the two-layer box was a mere $6.99 (and maybe no longer on the shelves.) While there’s a discernible difference in flavor/intensity between these and the higher end products, there’s plenty of bang for the buck here.

Trader Joe’s is also known for their 1 pound box of Belgian chocolates at Christmas, which, at $9.99, which makes a nice hostess gift. But this all-dark collection, which is made in Ireland, is higher quality. So, if you’re a young romantic on a real slim budget, by all means go to Trader Joe’s and see what they’re offering for Valentine’s Day.  (I well remember those days, but, hey, back then at least I could buy a small lobster for $1.25 at the supermarket in Cambridge!)

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