What's the best chocolate for your money?

February 9, 2012 2:59:11 PM PST
Americans spend more than $700 million on chocolate for Valentine's Day, according to the National Confectioner's Association. But what's the best-tasting chocolate for the money?

Consumer Reports testers have sampled boxes and boxes of chocolates to tell you which ones are the best for your money -- especially when it comes to those luxury brands. And since most of us don't have a big budget, we also taste test a couple of boxes of chocolate we found at the dollar store.

Freshly made chocolate covered strawberries, luscious truffles, heart-shaped candies... What should you get your valentine? At a Godiva store, customers have nothing but love for chocolate. But this is how Consumer Reports' taste testers feel after they finish testing chocolate.

"You feel completely nauseated, you have a bellyache, and you really don't want to eat anything for the rest of the day," said Erin Gudeux with Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports evaluated more than 30 boxes of gift chocolates. One of the priciest is a Richart Petits Collection Intense Ballotin. It goes for $67 plus shipping. But it wasn't the best.

"The chocolate coatings are chalky, and some of the fillings reminded us of soap," Gudeux said.

Far better, but still expensive -- the Norman Love Confections 25-piece signature gift box, with ultra smooth chocolates and unusual fillings. It costs $49, and with shipping you'll pay more than $60.

Gudeux said, "The good news -- our testers found some very good chocolates that cost far less. And you can find them in stores, so no shipping!"

Among them is a box of Ferrero Collection fine assorted confections for just $11.

"The truffles are flavorful, and the crisp wafer coatings and nuts add interesting texture," Gudeux said.

And a Godiva box is a very nice choice -- the gold ballotin 36-piece box for $40, especially if your valentine likes really sweet chocolates.

If you can't afford $30 or $40 on your Valentine's Day chocolate, look no further than my favorite stops, the dollar stores, where we found Queen Anne Chocolate for 99 cents. We found this same product online for 8 bucks. At the 99 Cents Only store we also found other name brand chocolates like Palmer's and Baron Chocolate for 99 cents a box. But the real test is the taste. I liked it and other shoppers declared it tasty too.