Any Chocolate from Kee's Chocolate ($2.50 each)
Though you won't find any good old fashioned chocolates at Kee's, their unique creations (often a blend of Asian and Western flavors) are so full of love and deliciousness that they'll win over even the most die-hard chocolate purists. A single bite releases a flow of subtly well-balanced flavors blended with a decadently creamy, yet surprisingly light and silky, chocolate center.
For those with savory tendencies, the Black Sesame truffle brings a wonderfully toasty flavor and crunch to a slightly bitter dark chocolate, while the Sesame and Chili truffle gives a nice sprinkling of heat to counter the sweet chocolate and nutty white seeds. Fruity options abound, but we gravitated towards the Yuzu chocolate, which uses this zesty, aromatic citrus to add tartness to an otherwise sweet white chocolate ganache. Then there's the sweet-tooth friendly Tiramisu truffle, java-themed Cappuccino and Mint Mocha pieces, nutty chocolates, boozy ganaches, and floral flavors...we could go on. Or you could just go buy some for that special someone (and make them share).
Truffles from Vosges Haut Chocolat ($2.50 each; $40 for "La Collezione Italiana")
For the experimental chocolate lover in your life, give the gift of these Italian-inspired truffles from Vosges Haut Chocolat. The "Polline di Finocchio" is the one of the more savory options, combining dark chocolate with aromatic anise that leaves a pleasantly lingering curry-like flavor. A slightly sweeter choice, the "Olio d'Oliva" is a nice balance between the buttery richness of white chocolate with the strong flavors of green olives and extra virgin olive oil. The "Balsamico" packs a more conservative flavor; dark chocolate mellows out the aged balsamic vinegar, as hazelnuts round it all out for a surprisingly sweet-and-sour bite.
Ganaches from Maison du Chocolat ($2.25 each)
With lusciously smooth centers, the ganaches at Maison du Chocolat are offered in a wide variety of flavors, making them a deliciously safe bet for any kind of chocoholic. For the more traditional types, go for the simpler options like the "Quito," a silky dark chocolate ganache encased in a crunchy shell, or the denser, more robust "Caracas." A sweeter, creamier milk chocolate version can be found in the "Sylvia." To please the fruit lovers, the citrus-inspired pieces are the tastiest options. The orange liqueur mousse of the "Valencia" adds a sugary zing that contrasts sharply with a dark chocolate shell, while the "Andalouise" offers a more delicate bite with lingering hints of lemon. And though you won't find too many options for the heat seekers, a cinnamon-infused ganache gives the "Cannelle" a very gentle, but satisfying, kick of spicy-sweetness.
Salted Caramels from Nunu ($12 for a box of 6)
We like salted caramels which announce salt's presence without overwhelming the burnt sugar flavor. Nunu's do just that, with a slightly chewy caramel that's not too sweet and won't stick to your teeth. The chocolate coating has a delicate snap that melts nicely on the tongue.
Nougatines from Neuhaus
A Neuhaus specialty, and still made by hand, nougatines are another expression of the friendly relationship between chocolate and nuts. These crunchy, sweet treats are made with a sheet of toffee-like candy (a blend of nuts and sugar), which is then cut, folded, and filled with cream before getting a final coating of chocolate. With filling flavors that include raspberry, chocolate ganache, vanilla, and hazelnut, Neuhaus has got you covered when it comes to the nut fanatics in your life.
Chocolate Bars from Jacques Torres Chocolate ($6 each)
What chocolate bars lack in style, they make up for in quantity, and when it comes to these Jacques Torres bars, you'll be wanting more than one bite. Made with ancho and chipotle chiles, the "Wicked Bar" melts on your tongue into a subtly spicy dark chocolate, leaving behind a mild, lingering tingle. But when it comes to spiciness and flavor, the "Gingerette Bar" packs a bit more of a punch. This super dark chocolate is peppered with bits and pieces of crystallized ginger, making for a pleasantly fragrant, and occasionally intensely spicy, bar.
Gourmandises from Maison du Chocolat ($18 per box)
These slender treats, in dark and milk chocolate variations, are what grown-up Twix might taste like. The delicate sticks have a base of nutty praline biscuits—almond, hazelnut, and coconut—and rich fillings of almond or hazelnut praline cream.