San Francisco seems to be in the midst of a chocolate revolution. Whether it's making their chocolate from beans to bar (inside their shops!) or creating chocolate confections that highlight local ingredients, the chocolatiers in the City by the Bay are really upping the cocoa game.
So I'm not promising that giving your honey some chocolate will make you a total Valentine's Day Champion, as is obviously the goal of this day, but it's a better bet than ever before. Whether you want to go old school with a beautiful box of chocolates or try something that only a true chocoholic could love, check out some options below.
Classic Chocolate Boxes
If you're looking for a locally made but still super-luxe present (because these days isn't most of San Francisco?), then stop by Recchiuti in the Ferry Building. Their melt-in-your mouth truffles tend to feature bold but balanced flavors (think Lemon Verbena or Star Anise & Pink Peppercorn). Unless you're part of the cult following devoted to their Burnt Caramel Truffles (which come in a box of $26/9 pieces), I'd recommend going with an assortment like the Amour Box ($85/14 ounces) which contains a variety of flavors. Obviously you have to be willing to pay a premium, but taste-wise, you're unlikely to go wrong.
If you're looking for something a little less pricey, head over to one of the CocoaBella shops. They have a few locations around town, and it's always fun to go into the stores and make a custom box from the beautiful displays. CocoaBella doesn't make their own chocolates, but ask about Bay Area chocolatiers—they always have a few local artisans that they're highlighting.
If you're into design, Christopher Elbow in Hayes Valley is your box of chocolates. The chocolates come in interesting colors, shapes, and painted designs. Most of the flavors work, too—if you could use a note of the tropics, try the tangy and sweet Passionfruit Caramel. ($20/9 piece box.)
If you have truffles in particular on your mind, try XOX Truffles in North Beach. The irregularly shaped brown nubs are admittedly not as visually appealing as a box of decorated chocolates but they sure do taste good. Bonus: about half the flavors include booze. Spicy Cayenne Tequila anyone?
For Your Nutty Valentine
If your Valentine likes nuts, the chocolate covered almonds or hazelnuts from Charles Chocolates will pretty much blow their mind. The confections are made the old fashioned way, i.e. slowly covered with chocolate in a process called panning. One batch takes 3 hours and 120 pounds of chocolate to make. ($12.00/bag)
For the Chocolate Purist
For those interested in serious chocolate, head straight to Dandelion Chocolate in the Mission. All their chocolates go from beans to bar in the store, but the fun-to-watch factory is not just a party trick. Each single origin bar has a specific character (which the bar's label explains) and all are odes to pure, dark chocolate.
If you want a date idea and present wrapped into one, take a tour at the TCHO chocolate factory on the Embarcadero. It's cool to see how Valentine's Day's signature treat is made, plus you (surprise surprise) end up in the gift shop, where you can pick up some of their legitimately tasty bars.
Anything We Missed?
Have other favorite spots for chocolates in San Francisco? Chime in below!
About the author: Carrie Vasios Mullins is the editor of Serious Eats: Sweets. She likes to peruse her large collection of cookbooks while eating jam from the jar. You can follow her on Twitter @carrievasios