Valentine’s Day is this Tuesday, so I hope you’re planning to spend some quality time with the one you love. I’m going to try and doing a little baking for Charlie since chocolate chip cookies make him feel loved more than anything. But if you’re pressed for time or the oven & you just don’t get along, I wanted to be a resource for some last minute gift ideas. Here are some of my personal chocolate favorites that you can hopefully find in your neck of the woods.
I love this bar–Chocolove XOXOX’s-Almonds and Sea Salt in Dark Chocolate. I can’t tell you how many of these I’ve eaten since discovering this brand…and I won’t tell you!! Chocolove is made right here in the USA (in Boulder, CO) with Belgian chocolate. Dark, rich, and full of almonds. If you open up my fridge and look in the secret hiding place, this is the bar you’ll find, if I haven’t eaten them all. And the best thing is that you can get these at grocery stores. Publix and Kroger both carries the Chocolove brand and you can also find them at World Market, so don’t panic! You’ve got options at this late date. They have plenty of flavors to choose from, too-Cherries and Almonds in Dark Chocolate, Hazelnuts in Milk Chocolate, Ginger in Dark Chocolate (love it), Orange Peel in Dark Chocolate (love it, too), Pretzels in Milk Chocolate, etc. The price is low and the quality is high. You will get XOXOXs when you give this chocolate.
On to caramels. Many of you may know that I hosted a radio show for much of last year on the legendary 650 AM WSM. One of the perks of the job was that guests brought food and I happily received all of it 🙂 A young artist from Michigan brought these treats to the studio. Her name is Allie Louise and she is a talented singer who has great taste in chocolate! I took one bite and immediately thought “this is the best caramel I’ve ever tasted” and I meant it. Sanders Chocolate began way back in 1857 in Detroit, so they’ve been making candy and confectionery treats for a long, long time. I don’t know if it’s the quality of the dark chocolate or the perfect salty flavor of the sea salt that make these things so delectable, but whatever it is, I love ’em! Cracker Barrel has the milk chocolate version and Costco Business Centers has an exclusive big jar of the dark caramels. I prefer dark chocolate so they are my favorite, but the milk version tastes great too. If you happen to live in the Detroit area, there are 8 Sanders Chocolate & Ice Cream Shoppes in Southeastern Michigan and 2 on Mackinac Island…now that is the one I want to visit! Thank you, Allie for introducing me to these little chunks of chocolate/caramel heaven…they really are as the company says- “Chocolates worth sharing.”
If you live in Nashville, you probably know about Olive & Sinclair Chocolate. If you don’t, happy to share this Music City favorite! These bars are handmade in East Nashville and you can get them at many Whole Foods around the country. I got a bar in a gift basket a few years ago and loved it. Charlie and I then sought it out and it’s been a go-to gift idea to ship around the country for a “Best of Nashville” theme or just to keep a bar in the fridge for when you gotta have some chocolate. The cinnamon chili version is my favorite–sweet and chocolatey when you first bite into it and then the chili part kicks in at the end. The wrapping alone is a cool, retro piece of artwork. They have lots of variety–Sea Salt, Coffee Bean, Buttermilk White, Bourbon Nib Brittle, etc. Nashvillians can get them at the Green Door Gourmet in West Nashville, FIDO’s also has them, and I’ve also seen them at the gift shop at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and of course, Whole Foods in many parts of the country. The Olive & Sinclair website is always open for business, though you won’t have them by tomorrow 🙂
And I’m finishing up with a Charlie Kelley favorite! He found these at World Market and says it’s the adult version of the chocolate orange that you use to get in your stocking at Christmas time.