Magazine article USA TODAY

Sweets for the Sweet

Magazine article USA TODAY

Sweets for the Sweet

Article excerpt

Valentine's Day is looming and, sure, you could wait till the last minute and then pick up a prosaic heart-shaped box full of second-rate candy, as usual. Or, you could take advantage of all the goodies just a phone call away and let your letter carrier become Dan Cupid.

Chocolate's aphrodisiac-like reputation always has made it the treat for lovers. Combine sheer intensity of the chocolate experience with an inspired name and you have Chocolove (1-888-246-2656), a Boulder, Colo., firm that produces chocolate to die for. With cocoa liquor, sugar, and cocoa butter as the predominant ingredients; wrappers adorned with X's and O's to symbolize kisses and hugs; a love poem printed inside the wrapper; and imported Belgian chocolate (arguably the world's finest), Chocolove's cedar presentation box of eight 3.2-ounce bars is the ultimate chocoholic's delight. The cocoa content is indicated on each, beginning with the 33% in its Pure Milk bar and escalating ever upward: Milk+Beans (40%), Pure Dark (55%), Dark+Beans (60%), Rich Dark (65%), two Strong Dark (70 and 77%), and, finally, Baking (100%), designed for cooking purposes. The beans, by the way, are crunchy cocoa beans. Accompanying each box is a pamphlet on "Enjoying Chocolove Chocolate," which rivals the Kama Sutra for sensuous descriptions. The boxed gift set is $32, including shipping, and worth every penny.

Superb Austrian chocolate is featured in Vienna Delights from Niemitz U.S.A. Inc., New York (1-212-333-8662). Resembling Mallomars in concept, with a dark chocolate coating over a mousse-like filling sitting on a wafer, Vienna Delights put their American cousins to shame, so light and airy that they virtually melt in the mouth. All four flavors -- Choco, Vanilla, Cafe Creme (coffee), and Banana -- are intense, with the latter avoiding the cloying after-taste artificial fruit flavors usually produce. Dark chocolate or coconut-covered, they are available in packages of 20 or 40 from about $12 to $20.

Less traditional are the confections from Savannah's Candy Kitchen, Savannah, Ga. (1-800-443-7884). Specialties include Gophers (round chunks of pecan covered with caramel and topped with either dark, milk, or white chocolate), Divinity (succulent vanilla meringue capped with a large pecan half), and Pralines (pecans held together by a sticky hardened syrup created from rich cream and butter). …

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