Special box chocolates for Valentine's Day

    If you're going to spend $50 to $125 on a box of chocolates, it should be as special as your Valentine

    Published: February 2014

    In tasting dozens of products (such a chore), we found 15 that left our tasters using such words as "amazing," "ultrasmooth," "exceptional," and "artistic." Among them are three that are new to our annual tests: Recchiuti, Xocolatti, and zChocolat. The Ratings show only the excellent choices among the products we tried.

    Shop smart. Bear in mind that you generally have to buy the candies online, and it's shipping that can kick their cost into the stratosphere. (With shipping charges excluded, eight are CR Best Buys.) In answer to a question about high shipping costs, Jacques Torres' website cites the candy's "time and temperature-sensitive nature" and the need for chocolate to arrive "tasting just as fresh as it does when it leaves our shop." Here are ways to get the most for your money.

    Woodhouse box chocolates $32
    • Don't assume that all pricey chocolates are excellent. Maggie Lyons, at $54 per box including shipping, was just fair, with chalky, gritty, hard pieces (one tasted like cough syrup) and chocolate that was slow to melt in the mouth.
    • Don't buy by name. Norman Love's FM Artisan chocolates look like Norman Love's Confections but weren't as good.
    • Try to buy at a walk-in store. Some sellers—among them Christopher Elbow (pictured at top), Norman Love, and Vosges—sell at least some of their products in boutiques.
    • Try Ferrero Collection Fine Assorted, $1.25 per ounce, or See's Assorted, $1.06 per ounce. Although neither scored high enough to make our cutoff, they were very good. Ferrero is widely sold in stores; See's is in more than 200 See's shops in the U.S.
    • Get discounts. Sign up for a company's newsletter or mailing list.

    Bottom line. Quality is exceptional in all of the rated choices, but styles and flavors are quite different. Consider the recipient's tastes as you read our descriptions. And make sure that he or she checks the shelf life: Some products last just 7 to 14 days. Although the candies may go to waist, you won't want them to go to waste.

    For more food Ratings and reviews from our experts check our Food & Drink Guide.

    Editor's Note:

    This article also appeared in the February 2014 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

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