Taste Test Tuesday: Valentine’s Day Chocolates, Westchester-Based And National

How do Westchester’s chocolatiers match up against the national brands? Find out in our first ever Valentine’s Day chocolate box challenge.

We’ve all either received or given a box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day (if not, our condolences), but with so many choices out there—from national brands to our own local chocolatiers—it’s hard to know where to get that perfect box of sweets that will have your sweetheart gushing. So we challenged three Westchester-based chocolatiers to give us their best assortment to pit them against two national brands. Fifteen editorial and art staffers judged each from 1 to 5 in four categories: packaging (scroll down to see them all), interior visual appeal, variety/assortment, and taste (20 would be a perfect score).

Blue Tulip Chocolates

Score: 16.7
48 pieces; $90*

A few of the flavors: Earl Grey truffle, pistachio truffle, hazelnut-ganache-covered rice crunchies, dark chocolate heart with French sea salt

Diane Holland runs this new-on-the-scene, small-batch chocolate shop that uses local creams, French butters, and chocolate from Belgium, France, and Venezuela. The scores across all categories (especially the “inventive, beautiful, hand-crafted look” of the chocolates) helped Blue Tulip finish as the hands-down favorite. Comments included praise like “subtly flavored and excellent,” “great flavor, raspberry in raspberry truffle isn’t too overpowering,” “delish!,” “rich,” “had a gourmet feel to it, very good,” and “best chocolate ever!”

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137 Purchase St, Rye (914) 481-4840; bluetulipchocolates.com

Godiva

Score: 14.9
36 pieces; $50

A few of the flavors: almond praline, Mandarin orange, milk ganache bliss, cinnamon blush

This premium international brand sold at over 10,000 retailers came in a solid second, despite the fact there was a second plastic tray beneath the chocolates tray—a packaging trick to add artificial heft to the box. Boo, Godiva! But the visuals inside (“nice assortment,” “classic and awesome”) and the “phenomenal taste” that was “smooth and rich” won over most. A few holdouts stated they “looked better than they tasted,” and that it was “pretty average milk chocolate” and “too sweet.”

godiva.com

Chocolations

Score: 11.2
24 pieces; $42

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A few of the flavors: milk truffle, blood orange truffle, caramel-cherry bonbon, 72% dark onyx truffle

Low scores for the packaging (”tacky” wrote one taster) hurt the overall score for this Mamaroneck chocolatier that wins the Best Of Westchester Readers’ Pick for Chocolate Shop nearly every year. Other opinions showed a mixed bag: “pretty, looks hand-crafted,” “Nutella heart was delicious,” “nicely textured filling,” “too many of the same looking chocolates,” and “not a good aftertaste.”

607 E Boston Post Rd, Mamaroneck (914) 777-3600; chocolations.com

Imagine Candy

Score: 10.6
32 pieces; $37.40

A few of the flavors: espresso truffle, raw coconut haystacks, Italian orange peel, Grand Marnier truffle

Presentation also marred this Scarsdale candy shop’s score. Many tasters thought the box was “too tightly packed” and “messy” with “not enough color variety.” Imagine Candy fared better on the tasting portion, though: “dark chocolate truffle strong but tasty,” “continental truffle was soft and creamy,” “good sweet/bitter balance to dark bonbon,” “salted caramel had pleasing texture but not strong flavor,” “taste was okay, not bad but not great.”

22 Harwood Ct, Scarsdale (914) 723-7887; imaginecandy.com

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Russell Stover

Score: 8.97
24 pieces; $10.99

A few of the flavors: maple nut cream, butter cream caramel, chocolate truffle, molasses chew

Sold at 70,000 retail outlets in the US and Canada, the commentary for this childhood Easter-morning favorite included “artificial yes, but tasty not awful,” “looks mass produced,” “maple nut way too sugary,” “yuck, sticking to my teeth,” “the plastic exterior wrapping makes me think of a bargain bin,” and “reminds me of bubble gum in chewiness and taste.”

russellstover.com

*Except for the writer, the cost of the boxes was not known to tasters prior to the challenge. 

 


Looking for more great ways to share your love. Visit our Complete Guide to Valentine’s Day in Westchester.

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