© Alessandra BulowWhen a new batch of chocolates arrives at Food & Wine's office for taste-testing, the staff goes into a frenzy. For Valentine's Day, our editors had the difficult task of sampling traditional heart-shape-boxed chocolates that you can find right in your neighborhood drugstore. It wasn't all pretty, but here are some of the top picks. While boxed chocolates are a no-brainer for the holiday, the judges also revealed some of their favorite unique bars that can be tied with a ribbon for a more personalized gift--from gorgeously-wrapped single-origin chocolate to potato-chip-filled bars, which are perfect for Valentines who love candy that's salty and sweet.
Dove Silky Smooth Select Chocolates Heart Box
Description: Milk chocolate and peanut butter truffle hearts, dark chocolate hearts, caramel hearts
Staff comments: "I think these are really good. The peanut butter truffle hearts are yummy. The shell-to-filling ratio and textures are perfect. Good balance between chocolate and peanut buttery goodness. Crowd-pleasing. Nice and creamy chocolate with a good mouth feel." $15 for 8.13 oz. heart-shaped tin, dovechocolate.com
Hershey's Pot of Gold Premium Collection Red Pillow Pattern Heart Box
Description: Assorted truffles, nut clusters and caramels
Staff comments: "Caramel texture is nice and smooth. The almond crème is sweet, creamy and pleasant. Pecan caramel cluster is good too-caramel is very soft but nice if you like very sweet chocolate." $10 for 8.9 oz heart-shaped box; hersheys.com.
Green & Black's Organic Ginger Bar
Description: Dark chocolate bar with organic crystallized ginger
Staff comments: "The thick slices of crystallized ginger add zing." $3.50 for 3.5 oz; greenandblacks.com.
Godiva Nut and Caramel Gift Box
Description: Assorted chocolate-covered caramel and nut pieces
Staff comments: "I especially like the gooey caramels. The praline fillings are delicious, creamy and nutty. Chocolate is creamy and has nice depth of flavor." $32 for 10.6 oz; godiva.com.
Chuao Chocolatier's Potato Chips in Chocolate Bar
Description: Milk chocolate bar with kettle cooked potato chips
Staff comments: "This is a brilliant idea. Two of my favorite things: the salty, crunchy chips contrasted with creamy milk chocolate." $6 for 2.82 oz; chuaochocolatier.com.
Scharffen Berger 62% Cacao Dark Chocolate Nibby
Description: Dark chocolate bar with roasted cacao beans
Staff comments: "The cacao nibs add an awesome crunch." $5 for 3 oz; scharffenberger.com.
Veruca Chocolates Box
Description: Handmade filled-chocolate truffles in assorted flavors like hazelnut-cinnamon, lavender-vanilla, burnt caramel ganache and dulce de leche
Staff comments: "Wow these are terrific. The flavors are strong and straightforward. Lavender-vanilla is floral but subtle enough." $40 for 18 piece box; verucachocolates.com.
Mast Brothers Chocolates, Assorted Bars
Description: Gift-paper wrapped single-origin dark chocolate bars named after the sources of the cacao beans like Papua New Guinea, Moho River, Sambirano Valley, and La Red de Guaconejo
Staff comments: "These are for the intrepid chocolate taster who really, really likes dark chocolate. They're interesting and certainly showcase the tangy, tropical, jungle-y, terroir-driven flavors of chocolate. They are all so distinct! La Red is really tobacco-y, but good, and the Papua New Guinea is so smoky-like whiskey!" $8 for 2.5 oz; mastbrothers.com.
Suzanne's Chocolaterie's Chocolate Bars
Description: Elegant slim dark chocolate bars filled with caramel crunch, hazelnut praline and coconut crème
Staff comments: "The caramel crunch bar is amazing and so smart with the super light, airy honeycomb--love it. The delicate chocolate shell is smooth, has a deep, rich flavor, a nice snap and a great bitter finish." $5.50 for 1.5 oz; suzanneschocolaterie.com.
More from Food & Wine:
Best Hot Chocolate in the U.S.
Best Ice Cream Spots in the U.S.
Valentine's Day Recipes