Americans buy 39 million pounds of chocolate each year specifically for Valentine’s Day—and most of us wait until the last minute. Feb. 13—today—is the top chocolate shopping day of the year. If you’re looking for something fancy for your sweetie, our reviews of boxed chocolates can help you find something special. But sometimes simpler is better. And if that’s what you’re after, our taste testers have advice on plain chocolate bars and single-serving squares that you can pick up at most supermarkets—good news for you procrastinators.
If you’re looking for dark chocolate, three earned an excellent Rating from our testers: Trader Joe’s 72 percent Cacao 3-pack (minibars), Godiva 72 percent Cacao, and Chocolove Organic Fair Trade 73 percent Cocoa.
If you prefer the milky, caramelized flavor of milk chocolate, Godiva Milk Chocolate 31 percent Cacao, Trader Joe’s 3-pack (minibars), and Dove Silky Smooth Milk Chocolate all rated Very Good.
Single-serving chocolate squares
To test these items, we enlisted the help of consumer volunteers. Last Christmas, we set up a booth at two holiday markets in New York City and asked people passing by to take part in a blind taste test comparing dark and milk versions of two single-square chocolates—Dove Silky Smooth Promises and Hershey’s Bliss. More than 550 shoppers took us up on the (oh so difficult) challenge.
More people said they liked dark chocolate better than milk chocolate, but about 15 percent of people said they didn’t have a preference. More than half (58 percent) of the dark chocolate tasters gave top marks to Dove Silky Smooth Promises compared with 42 percent for Hershey’s Bliss Rich & Creamy Dark Chocolate. Milk chocolate lovers also gave Dove a slight edge: 55 percent preferred it to Hershey’s Bliss Smooth & Creamy Milk Chocolate. About 14 percent of people liked both brands the same.
So which one will satisfy your Valentine? Our professional tasters descriptions might help:
Dark chocolate. This category was where our tasters noted the most difference. Hershey’s Bliss Rich & Creamy Dark Chocolate tastes like dark cocoa while Dove Silky Smooth Promises Dark Chocolate has an intense dark chocolate flavor with a slight fruity note. In terms of texture, Dove was a little smoother than Hershey’s.
Milk chocolate. Hershey’s Bliss Smooth & Creamy Milk Chocolate has a milky, cocoalike flavor that’s equally balanced with a caramelized flavor. Dove Smooth Promises Milk Chocolate tastes more chocolatey than cocoalike and it’s slightly smoother and sweeter.