As winter and the pandemic continue on, we strongly recommend some pure cacao goodness to make the days go by until sunnier skies, whether metaphorically or realistically, become d’habitude.
And what more can you ask for than love and chocolates to make this Valentine’s Day and, hell, all of February that much sweeter? Indulge in these French (and Belgian) chocolate treats on this side of the Atlantic without having to travel to Europe. Share with your friends and loved ones, and treat yourself too!
We’ve compiled our favorite chocolate treats available stateside:
La Maison du Chocolat
The Parisian chocolate house La Maison du Chocolat was founded in 1977 by chocolatier Robert Linxe. Today, it has some American locations, including four storefronts in New York City and it is a brand carried by many retailers. The house aims to unleash the most beautiful aspects of cocoa highlighted with natural ingredients and their refined aromas. As a result, it’s like the couture of chocolate, truly elegant and perfectly chic. So how about a heart-shaped box of handcrafted Parisian chocolates for your date this year? The 14-45 piece box dreamed up by French pastry chef Nicolas Cloiseau features ganaches, pralinés, almond pastes, and so much more chocolatey goodness.
La Maison du Chocolat Valentine’s Day Gift Box, $55-$135, available at Food52.com & in stores.
Maxim’s de Paris
For the nostalgic type, consider a chocolate tin from Maxim’s de Paris, the legendary club and Parisian souvenir brand. Maxim’s was founded as a bistro Rue Royale in Paris in 1893 by Mr. Maxime Gaillard. But it really started to earn its reputation of excellence under its next owner, M. Eugene Cornuché. Today it belongs to the the fashion designer, Pierre Cardin, and embodies the essence of Paris. The brand stacks their tins with premium quality gourmet chocolate filed withe hearts of coffee–the perfect after-a-romantic-meal chocolates where you get chocolate and a nice café. The tins can be later be reused as decoration or for gifts of holiday cookies thanks to their lively red façade of dancing men and women.
French Gourmet Dark Chocolate Candies with a Heart of Coffee Gift, $14.99, available at Amazon.com.
Le Chocolat des Français
Et voila, Instagram’s favorite chocolate, according to Forbes, comes with a “bio” status and whimsical wrapper art. Le Chocolat des Français has been one of the most creative in creating solid chocolate bars in collaboration with artists. Consider the chocolate recipient and personalize the bar for them. Perhaps they like a Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg kissing bar or a mustachioed man on theirs. No judgments! Indulge in these beautiful candy bars made in Paris, and if you’re not sure, then order a set to try out all the flavor recipes (ten in total.)
Le chocolat des Français Chocolate Love Box – 4 Pieces, $9, available at store.moma.org.
While there will always be a sweet war between French and Belgian chocolate, we at Frenchly love them equally! Neuhaus was founded in 1857 and also happens to be the inventor of the Belgian praline. Today the brand is also dedicated to what it calls “honest chocolate,” 100% sustainably sourced cacao, natural ingredients, and conscious packaging. When in NYC, their Bryant Park location is a true Charlie and The Chocolate Factory wonderland with rich flavors and beautifully crafted candies. Consider rewarding your lover with this “love letter” the brand has handcrafted for the holiday season.
Love Letter Box, $41.90, available at NeuhausChocolates.com & in stores.
Chocolat Michel Cluizel
The famous chocolatier Michel Cluizel started his brand in 1947 in the small town of Damville in southern Normandy. The son of two pâtissiers, he was sure to take the sweet route, too. In fact, he ended up collaborating with his parents for over 35 years. Today it is a third generation brand with a commitment to high quality. It was one of the first brand’s to prohibit soya lecithin, a natural emulsifier, from all their chocolates, and it continues to study and support sustainable cacao sourcing and chocolate making. Confess your love with Cluizel’s heart-shaped tin with a giant dark chocolate truffle and assorted chocolates and caramelized almonds.
Valentine heart tin, $59, Cluitzel.us.
Who doesn’t love a vintage-style chocolate bar? Chocolat Bonnat is a sixth generation French brand found in 1884 by Felix Bonnat. The brand continues to pioneer the creation of single bar chocolates, a true rarity these days in a mass-produced world. Its greatest achievement is the Cacao Real del Xoconuzo bar, made with one of the oldest cacaos known to man. Treat someone you love to a truly special chocolate bar this Valentine’s Day.