The 6 Best Boxed Chocolates of 2023
We tested eight more boxed chocolates and have three new picks: Valerie Confections Baby Grand Assortment, Melissa Coppel Bonbons, and Dandelion Chocolate Single-Origin Truffle Collection.
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If you’re looking for a truly special box of luxurious chocolates to give someone, you can't go wrong with the 16-piece Recchiuti Confections Black Box. Over the years, we’ve enlisted food experts and staffers to evaluate 36 brands of chocolate in taste tests. And we’ve found Recchiuti's flavors, craftsmanship, and packaging to be nothing short of sophisticated—and, for the right occasion, maybe even a little seductive.
To suit people who have different tastes, we offer a variety of other picks, including ornate little flavor bombs, chocolates that evoke composed desserts, single-origin ganaches, and a vegan, nut-free assortment.
With perfectly executed flavors and an eye-popping array of shapes and textures, the Recchiuti Black Box chocolates were our tasters’ top choice, beating a lineup of new- and old-world boutique chocolates.
This Valentine's Day–themed box contains the exact same assortment as the Black Box. The only difference is the packaging.
Who these are for: Adventurous chocolate lovers and traditionalists alike—those who will appreciate creative riffs on a classic chocolate selection.
Why they’re great: Unlike many of the chocolate boxes we’ve tried, the 16-piece Recchiuti Confections Black Box offers a full sensory experience—which is part of the reason for giving boxed chocolates in the first place. Every piece is memorable. Classic concoctions, such as Burnt Caramel and Piedmont Hazelnut, offer just the right balance of sweet and bitter. Adventurous flavors, like Tarragon Grapefruit or Star Anise & Pink Peppercorn, are never overpowering (a problem we’ve encountered with most other flavored chocolates). One of our favorites, the Sesame Nougat, has the perfect texture of chewy caramel, a little crunch from toasted sesame seeds, and the snap of perfectly tempered dark chocolate.
We found the chocolate itself to be of high quality, with the subtle, long flavor that comes from great cacao. The bonbons aren't too sweet, either. There's just enough sugar to balance out the flavors. Among all of the chocolates we tested, the Recchiuti bonbons come in the most intriguing shapes and designs. No two chocolates are alike. Some have intricate patterns, while others look like little sculptures. As they say, you eat with your eyes first, and the visual variety adds excitement to this experience.
To top it off, the Recchiuti packaging—a matte black box that's sexy, without being excessive or too obvious—is among the most elegant we encountered in our testing. (If this box doesn't appeal to you, Recchiuti sometimes offers seasonal versions with different packaging. For Valentine's Day 2023, there's a Love & Truffles box that's silver with a red ribbon.) The Recchiuti box includes a minimally designed booklet explaining the flavors, with black-and-white illustrations of each chocolate. We found this much easier to decipher than keys for many of the other brands.
The Recchiuti Black Box has become a popular gift among our coworkers in the years since we first recommended it, in 2014. Wirecutter's Annam Swanson told us, "I bought the Black Box for my boyfriend for Christmas ... and wow, were we impressed! Gorgeous packaging ... and every single chocolate was delicious and unique." Editor-in-chief Ben Frumin said that when he ordered a box for his wife, "she declared them unequivocally the best and most stylish chocolates she’d ever had." Though some of the chocolates had been damaged in transit, Frumin said Recchiuti's customer service refunded him and was overall a pleasure to deal with.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Some of the chocolates in this box come in pretty esoteric flavor combinations (more of a caveat than a flaw). Though we don't think any would be offensive, they may be a little "out there" for some people. (Those palates might be happier with the more classic flavors of the Valerie Baby Grand Assortment.)
Pieces per box: 16
Weight: 6.25 ounces
Shipping: Recchiuti ships throughout the US via FedEx. Shipping costs range from $14 for standard to $30 for priority overnight. Although you’ll find Recchiuti chocolates at some individual stores (mostly in California), the website has the best selection.
The toffees, caramels, and truffles from Valerie Confections are deceptively simple, combining classic fillings with beautiful technique—and some unexpected flavor combinations.
Who these are for: The sweets enthusiast who relishes the toasty, buttery goodness of an excellent toffee or runny caramel filling.
Why they’re great: Tasting the chocolates from Los Angeles–based Valerie Confections is a master class in simplicity. They appear straightforward—a palette of bittersweet chocolate coatings, some hand-dipped, some molded, nestled in frilly, dark brown candy cups. Varying shapes or spare adornments—such as a whole almond or flaky sea salt—differentiate them from one another. Compared with some of the psychedelically swirled chocolates we tried, like those from Melissa Coppel or Kate Weiser, these seem downright restrained. And their presentation leaves little to hide behind.
This 18-piece box is a fine assortment for lovers of the classics—like deeply toasty almond toffee, a buttery molten caramel bonbon, and smooth, dark truffles with 72% chocolate and Scotch ganache fillings. These chocolates are also sophisticated enough to wow anyone who appreciates a finely rendered confection. What makes them so impressive—especially compared with other, more traditional assortments we tried—is precisely how dialed in the technique is: from the flawless, satiny coatings of the dipped chocolates to the sharp snap of the toffees (which offer an epiphany of what the candy should be). In addition to the more textbook flavors, there are surprises, too. One toffee was laced with fresh mint, an unexpected combination that delighted the tasters. A truffle with a sprinkling of cracked pepper on top and a pepper-infused ganache ignited our palates.
The presentation—a pretty, cream-colored box with gold letters and a gold satin ribbon—is as elegant as the contents. The box feels special, almost like it could contain silky lingerie or jewelry, and it would be suitable for practically any type of gift, be it personal or even professional.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Our main complaint about this assortment is that there is no legend to indicate the filling of each chocolate (this information is not listed online, either). Some people might not mind the guesswork, but for those with allergies or dietary restrictions, it could be a dealbreaker.
Pieces per box: 18
Weight: 10.4 ounces
Shipping: Costs range from $16.95 for standard shipping to $34.95 for express shipping to some locations; overnight options range from $49.95 to $59.95.
Melissa Coppel's marbled bonbons and hand-dipped chocolates are impressively well crafted, with layered fillings that reminded us of a plated dessert.
May be out of stock
Who these are for: Those who appreciate a fine dessert and are entranced by a hypnotically gorgeous presentation.
Why they’re great: These days, chocolates that flaunt swirly technicolor exteriors are a dime a dozen. Quite often, the style outshines the substance, as we experienced when tasting the chocolates from Feve and Kate Weiser. That's not the case with the hand-painted chocolates from Melissa Coppel. The colorful hemispheres are so shiny that you can practically see your reflection in them (one taster dubbed them "space marbles"). But unlike the other chocolates we sampled in this style (which tended to have thick coatings and fillings that didn't match the exterior dazzle), Melissa Coppel chocolates have whisper-thin skins that give way to meticulously conceived fillings.
One chocolate encases peanut butter ganache, a dab of raspberry jelly, and a crouton of brioche toast. Another conceals three equidistant dots of raspberry rose jelly suspended in a silky yogurt ganache. It's worth slicing into the chocolates to see the cross sections, which are shockingly neat and composed. The flavors are balanced and intense, and they come in dynamic waves. (It's no surprise that Melissa Coppel comes from a fine-pastry background, with experience at restaurants such as L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon.) The box also includes a selection of more-traditional, square-shaped dipped chocolates. Though the styles are vastly different, the execution is no less precise and the flavors no less saturated. A crunchy gianduja chocolate was, in the words of one tester, a perfect praline. Another favorite evoked the Mediterranean with pistachio lemon ganache and marzipan.
Like the chocolates, the box is an ombre galaxy of colors—an object of art unto itself. (One taster said she’d keep it long after the chocolates were gone.) The bonbons are carefully packed under a clear plastic shell, which protects each one during transit. Although the box doesn't include a pamphlet listing the flavors, Melissa Coppel does one better: When you pick up a chocolate, the flavor is written in the vacant space.
The 24-piece box is generous, and if you aim to impress, it would make an excellent gift. These bonbons would also be lovely trotted out at the end of a dinner party, for a show-stopping finale. (The chocolates also come in a 12-piece box and a 12-piece vegan assortment, which we’re curious about but haven't yet tried.)
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Though our tasters unanimously recognized the execution, skill, and high-quality ingredients of the Melissa Coppel chocolates, not all of the flavors were equally successful, and a few tasters found them too sweet, intense, or "over the top." This quote from a panelist sums it up: "I think they’re incredible; they’re not for me." For a quieter bonbon, try our picks from Valerie Confections or Dandelion Chocolate.
Pieces per box: 24
Weight: 19.3 ounces
Shipping: Two-day shipping costs $15.
The two-tiered Richart Initiation box offers a chocolate experience that's as aesthetically pleasing as it is palate-teasing.
Who these are for: Food enthusiasts who would enjoy exploring a wide array of flavors or tasting the nuances of different single-origin chocolates side by side.
Why they’re great: As the name suggests, the Richart Initiation box is intended as an introduction to the universe of flavors and techniques in the French chocolate maker's arsenal. Each box contains 16 miniature chocolates and 16 thin chocolate squares (called "ultra-fines"), packed in separate layers. As tiny and delicate as the chocolates are, they aren't meant to be wolfed down. The precision of the fillings’ flavors and the complexity of the single-origin wafers both demand appreciation. This is the perfect gift for someone who enjoys guessing the ingredients in whatever they’re eating and someone who finds taste to be a fun game of discovery.
The quirky packaging enhances that sense of wonder. Each level of the two-tiered box pulls out like a drawer, revealing a mosaic of neatly arranged chocolates. The top layer holds a tidy grid of diminutive one-bite bonbons, adorned with colorful patterns that (with the help of a legend) tell you what's inside. The bottom layer contains a quadrant of glossy chocolate tiles. These tiles have a pleasing snap when you bite into them, releasing waves of flavor as they melt on your tongue. (The tiles don't require a flavor key: The cacao content and the beans’ origins are "printed" on each tile in an eye-catching graphic, with tasting notes on the reverse side, en Français.)
The Richart Initiation box is a true sampler, and the filled chocolates represent the following diverse categories: fruity, citrus, floral, herbal, spicy, roasted (including caramels and pralines), and balsam (ganaches that are single-origin or flavored with botanicals like vanilla and tonka bean). What struck us was how true the promised flavors were and how much punch was packed into each bite. "What kind of sorcery do they use to get such outsize fruit flavor into their fruit ganaches?" asked supervising editor Marilyn Ong, who observed that the raspberry ganache chocolate tasted "like 10 raspberries died" to make just one bonbon. That excellence was consistent across flavor categories. The citrusy yuzu caramel coulis was intensely fragrant, the filling fresh and runny. The thyme-praline (made with hazelnuts) was an unlikely yet balanced combination, with flavors that were both fully expressed and harmonious.
Though the Richart Initiation box contains a rainbow of flavors, the chocolates themselves are practically identical in appearance. For someone who enjoys a variety of sizes and styles yet still craves a thrilling gastronomic experience, the Recchiuti chocolates would be a better choice.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Compared with the coatings on some other chocolates we tasted, the Richart bonbons’ coating was a bit thick in ratio to the filling. But the filling flavors are so intense that they still shine through. For some people, the intensity of the flavors may be overwhelming, especially if the chocolates are eaten in quick succession. This pick probably isn't for someone with a more conservative palate.
Also, the Richart Initiation box is precious but petite. If you wish to upgrade to a larger version, the next size up contains 49 filled chocolates and 36 squares and is more than double the price. What this box lacks in heft, however, it makes up for in pleasure. Finally, at about $180 a pound, these chocolates are the most expensive of our picks, and even more so when you factor in the additional cost of shipping directly from France (unless you spend $90 or more, in which case shipping is free). But we think the vibrancy of these chocolates makes them a worthy splurge for a special occasion.
Pieces per box: 16 filled chocolates, plus 16 dark and milk chocolate wafers
Weight: 4.68 ounces
Shipping: Richart ships from France to the US and Canada. Our pick costs $24 to ship to the US, with free shipping on orders over $90.
Dandelion Chocolate's truffles, crafted by a superb San Francisco bean-to-bar chocolate maker, demonstrate the subtlety and distinct terroir of excellent single-origin chocolate.
Who these are for: The friend who can tell the difference between chocolate made from Tanzanian beans and Ecuadorian ones (or the one who thinks they can) or someone who wants to learn how.
Why they’re great: It only makes sense that one of America's premier bean-to-bar chocolatiers would put out outstanding truffles that showcase the nuances of single-origin chocolate. Each bonbon is a uniform, Brutalist cube filled with ganache made with chocolate sourced from one of five distinct locales, from Madagascar to Belize (a bonbon's coating is the same single-origin chocolate as the filling). Though these truffles are all ostensibly the same flavor (chocolate), what's remarkable is that they taste discernibly different. A pamphlet supplies evocative characterizations of each one, complete with harvest date. One might wonder how much the power of suggestion dictates the experience (does the Maya Mountain, Belize bonbon really have notes of "European drinking chocolate and strawberry coulis"?), but the proof was in the fillings. Our panelists found the chocolates to be true to their descriptions, sometimes uncannily so. The Maya Mountain, Belize truffle was indeed bright and fruity, with prominent strawberry flavor. And it was entirely unlike the Ambanja, Madagascar truffle, which sang with the promised essence of pineapple.
As for the texture, our impressions were mixed—one panelist praised the thin, well-tempered exterior and moist, fudgy filling, while another found the shell to be waxy and the ganache "buttery but solid, like butter pulled out of the fridge." Everyone agreed that the cubes’ uniformity and heft were wildly appealing. We also appreciated the gold patterns on the chocolates’ surfaces, which were useful for identifying flavors (and mimic the box's decorative sleeve). The box itself is understated, with a natural tone and dark brown interior and with square cutouts that hold the chocolates securely in an attractive grid. The presentation is equal parts rustic and sleek, suitable for all kinds of gift giving.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: For people who seek variety in their boxed chocolates or a flashier selection, these truffles—all subtlety and ganache—aren't it. For a cornucopia of caramels, creamy fillings, and pralines, you’d be better off with our Recchiuti pick. For a flamboyant box with a rainbow of flavors, try our Melissa Coppel pick.
Pieces per box: 15
Weight: 6.4 ounces
Shipping: Shipping is free.
The Amori di Mona chocolates are elegantly executed, with subtle flavors and complex textures, and the presentation is beautiful. Vegan and free of common allergens, these are a great option for those with dietary restrictions.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $35.
Who these are for: One of the few boxes we’ve found for those with allergies or other dietary restrictions who don't want to worry about cross-contamination or an unexpected nut.
Why they’re great: Forrest Gump reminded us that "life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get." But for the allergy-ridden among us, it's imperative to know. And this often means that treats like boxed chocolates are off the table for folks who have severe nut allergies or other intolerances. During our 2021 testing, we found that the chocolates in the 16-piece Amore di Mona Assorted Mignardise Red Gift Box were the best-tasting of all four allergen-free options we tried. They are vegan and made in a facility free of gluten, soy, dairy, tree nuts, and peanuts.
The chocolates are slender and rectangular, and they can be eaten in a bite or two, which is typical of a mignardise, or bite-size dessert. There's not a lot of variety in shape or texture to these bonbons, but the box does include four pieces each of four different, satisfying flavors: Caffe, Frutta, Maple, and Sel. The Caffe had a strong taste of coffee; the Frutta contained pieces of dried fruit; the Maple tinged that chocolate a bit sweeter; and the Sel was sprinkled with the perfect amount of sea salt (great for those who like a salty-sweet combo). Each chocolate was expertly layered, with a ganache center, crisped brown rice, and either dried fruit or flavored caramel. And all were enrobed in a nice, thin layer of dark chocolate. This made every bite texturally complex. The appearance of each piece is differentiated only by the simple and elegant garnishes, such as sea salt or chili flakes.
The Amore di Mona chocolates come in an attractive box with a branded ribbon and peep-through top. These bonbons can be romantic when necessary—for Valentine's Day or an anniversary—but they don't scream love with a capital L the way drugstore boxed chocolates often do. If you’d like to go with a themed choice from Amore di Mona, the company offers different options, including heart-shaped boxes. It also has assortments with more or fewer chocolates, depending on your needs.
One of our vegan staffers, supervising editor Tracy Vence, received a box of the Amore di Mona chocolates as a gift, and she said it was a special treat that her family enjoyed for a long time. She also gave extra points for the delivery: "Everything arrived intact—which is saying a lot for shipping chocolate to Atlanta in September, when it's regularly above 85 degrees Fahrenheit."
Flaws but not dealbreakers: This assortment includes just four flavors, with almost no textural variation from one flavor to the next. The Amore di Mona selection doesn't come close to the thrilling array of shapes and textures found in the Recchiuti boxes, nor does it offer any particularly surprising flavors like you find in the Richart or Melissa Coppel boxes. Compared with coatings on our other picks, the chocolate coating on the Amore di Mona chocolates was sweet and had a waxiness to it; some testers thought the puffed rice tasted a bit stale.
If you’re looking for a nut-free option with a wider, more traditional range of bonbons, the Vermont Nut-Free Grand Assortment—detailed in the Other good boxed chocolates section—is a better choice. But we found Amore di Mona's chocolates to be of better quality.
Pieces per box: 16
Weight: 8 ounces
Shipping: For orders under $35, shipping is $9; for orders $35 to $150, it's $12; for orders over $150, shipping is free. This chocolate is also available in certain stores throughout the US, including some Whole Foods locations.
If you’re looking for an upscale but conservative box: La Maison du Chocolat's Coffret Maison Dark and Milk Chocolate offering was a previous pick for anyone seeking a premium yet tame chocolate selection. The fillings are chocolate-heavy, and they don't range beyond pralines and a couple of fruit-infused ganaches. And the packaging, reminiscent of brown pebbled leather, is luxurious but understated. In our latest test, we found that when it came to flavor and texture, these chocolates were outclassed by our current picks.If you like a variety of flavors, but with a more subtle approach: The L.A. Burdick Signature Chocolate Assortment, which came in a wooden box, was well received. The square chocolates house a mix of French-inspired ganaches—including plenty of boozy options, like Macallan whisky and green Chartreuse. But they’re flavored with a lighter hand than some of our picks. These are safe, middle-of-the-road chocolates that are probably suitable as professional gifts. L.A. Burdick is based in New Hampshire, with stores in New York City, Boston, and Cambridge, Massachusetts, and it is best known for its chocolate mice, which are undeniably cute.
If you’re drawn to pretty packaging and colorful bonbons: The Knipschildt Chocolatier Large Signature Collection didn't win top honors, but it was popular with some of our tasters. This chocolatier is based in Norwalk, Connecticut, and it has quite a following in the surrounding region. Its textured, handmade paper packaging is some of the prettiest.
If you’re looking for a vegan option: La Maison du Chocolat's Fruit Naturally Gift Box contains 16 pieces of dark chocolate, filled with an assortment of five vegan dark chocolate fruit ganaches. The citrus ones—the lemony Andalousie and the orange-y Chiberta—are perfectly fine, but they’re a little overshadowed by the vibrancy of the sweet-tart black currant, the zingy passionfruit, and the raspberry (which is packed with fresh flavor). The texture of the ganache doesn't appear to suffer without dairy; it's still smooth and creamy, and it melts nicely on the tongue.
If you’re craving more variety from a nut-free (but not completely allergen-safe) box: The Vermont Nut-Free Grand Chocolates Assortment is an assorted offering in the true meaning of the word—there are plenty of different shapes and flavors. This selection mirrors boxes of chocolates that people with nut allergies may have coveted but ultimately had to abstain from. These bonbons tasted good but weren't as well made as the Amore di Mona chocolates. And though the Vermont chocolates are produced in a 100%-nut-free facility, many are made on equipment shared with products containing gluten/wheat, soy, eggs, and dairy. If you’re looking for more of a classic-box-of-chocolates experience, these could deliver. But we recommend that you check the allergy information page before purchasing.
Lesley Stockton, a senior staff writer on Wirecutter's kitchen team, originated this guide. Aside from her personal affinity for bonbons and truffles, she tasted many different chocolates as they crossed her desk when she was working as a food editor at Martha Stewart. She learned how to quickly spot the difference between inexpensive and high-quality chocolates by looking for a perfect temper, examining ingredients, and, of course, tasting.
Haley Sprankle loves chocolate, but chocolate doesn't always love her. With a severe allergy to peanuts and other nuts, she was thrilled to help find an allergen-friendly boxed-chocolates option for this guide.
Senior editor Marguerite Preston, supervising editor Marilyn Ong, and editor Gabriella Gershenson (who tasted chocolates for the 2022 update) are all on Wirecutter's kitchen team. They have decades of accumulated food journalism experience among them, and each of them possesses a healthy sweet tooth.
Gabriella has been overseeing the guide since 2023. Her food writing has been featured in many publications, including The Wall Street Journal, for which she wrote a comprehensive guide to hot chocolate (subscription required) and a defense of milk chocolate. For the 2023 guide, Gabriella led a tasting panel of eight chocolate boxes, with several members of Wirecutter's kitchen team: Lesley, Marilyn, staff writer Mace Dent Johnson, and updates writer Ciara Murray Jordan. Senior staff writer Rachel Wharton (a seasoned food writer) and staff writer Ayanna Redwood-Crawford (an avid home cook) also joined.
Chocolate preferences are very subjective, and that's something to keep in mind when you’re giving an edible gift. One person may prefer a fruitier chocolate, while another may prefer something with nutty or floral notes. The options out there can be staggering, and the key is to look for a chocolatier that uses the best ingredients available.
High-quality chocolate, made from the best cacao beans, is the first thing to check for. Next is the filling. When a confectioner makes the conscious decision to produce high-quality chocolates, it will forgo preservatives and artificial flavors and instead use natural fruit, nuts, butters, spices, and herbs. The end result is something that isn't as shelf-stable as Russell Stover or other drugstore chocolates. Preservatives in those drugstore offerings affect the flavor of the candies. When you pit long-life brands against more-perishable, high-end chocolates in a blind taste test, the differences are glaringly clear.
When we spoke with Eric Case of Valrhona Chocolate for the first edition of this guide, he made a point of differentiating filled chocolates from chocolate bars: "Chocolate and chocolates. Chocolate is something made from a bean, to give to someone that then creates a bonbon, or a confection, or a candy. ‘Chocolates’ are all kinds of things that happen to use chocolate in the ingredients, but they also have marzipan, toffee, nuts, or fruit." Because of these additions, the shelf life of a quality box of chocolates is (generally) much shorter than that of a bar.
High-end chocolates run an average of $2 per piece, but shipping can really drive up the price. If you’re able to find some of the favorably rated chocolates in our lineup at a local gourmet market or specialty store, you’ll save on shipping (which can be upwards of $15 per order). Look on a chocolatier's website to find a list of local retailers.
In selecting which chocolates to test over the years, we’ve polled colleagues and friends in the business and sought advice from Mark Bitterman, owner of The Meadow. Articles such as this guide to Valentine's Day chocolates (subscription required), by G. Daniela Galarza of The Washington Post, also provided useful leads. For our 2023 update, we researched recent winners of the Good Food Awards and the International Chocolate Awards to inform our choices. We’ve also taken into account availability and usability of online stores because our goal is to find the best chocolates available to most people.
Overall, we’ve tasted 36 brands of chocolates since 2014. We conducted our original tasting of 11 different boxed chocolates with a panel of nine friends and food experts. In subsequent rounds, we tasted with smaller panels composed of Wirecutter kitchen team members and other staffers, who’ve all brought their varied culinary backgrounds to the table.
In each round (except in 2021 and 2022, when tastings had to happen individually due to the pandemic), we cut the chocolates into pieces so that more than one person could taste all of the offerings while also avoiding palate fatigue. Though this may sound like a silly problem, it can be quite frustrating when your taste buds become overstimulated and fail you mid-tasting. In an attempt to minimize this, we encouraged testers to pace themselves and cleanse their palates with saltines and club soda.
Because boxed chocolates are meant to be given as gifts, we thought the presentation should be a factor in judging, so we always presented the chocolates in their boxes.
We were mixed over New York City–based Chocolat Moderne's Mixe Moderne Box, a selection of dark and milk chocolates packed in a luxurious brown quilted box. The main critiques were of the chocolate shells (too thick) and the centers (too sweet). The one we enjoyed unanimously was the Raspberry Rendez-vous, a sweet-tart mix of chocolate ganache and raspberry pâte de fruit. Chocolat Moderne does offer a vegan selection, which we haven't yet tasted.
We were charmed by the vintage-style branding of the Videri Bonbon Box. The 16 chocolates within varied from unremarkable to enjoyable. Our box had a gingerbread caramel that captured the warm, spiced flavor, whereas an orange ganache lacked complexity. An earthy sorghum filling, a nod to Videri's Raleigh, North Carolina, roots, was overpowering. One taster who's a Raleigh native thought this could be a nice gift for a North Carolinian.
The colorful Feve Assorted Chocolates box was like the coarse cousin of the refined Melissa Coppel selection. The Feve chocolates possessed similarly flashy colors and vibrant-sounding flavors (such as yuzu and strawberry-lemon), but the fillings were muted, and the coatings were too thick. Several panelists also commented on the "schmutzy box" (the plastic peekaboo sleeve had smears of chocolate on it).
What drew us to Arrowhead Chocolates’ Deluxe Arrowhead Assortment, apart from its multiple Good Food Awards, were its traditional-style fillings, such as orange jellies, nut clusters, and marzipan. The first candy we tried—a hunk of chocolate-coated honeycomb that tasted like the best toasted marshmallows—showed such promise. The one that followed was utterly stale and took this box out of the running.
The Exquisito Chocolates’ Artisan Collection was fun at first glance, with its splatter-paint flourishes. But upon closer inspection, some of the chocolate coatings looked dusty and battered. The box lacked a flavor key, so we turned to the website's product page to see what was in each of the 12 chocolates. The descriptions sounded exciting on paper, but the fillings were bland, and the coatings had a waxy texture.
The Michel Cluizel Chocolate Truffle Milk & Dark box was previously an alternate pick in this guide. But in our 2022 tasting, these chocolates didn't impress us as much. This one is less adventurous than the Recchiuti box, with primarily plain ganache or praline truffles. They were a bit too sweet, and we found that some tasted stale.
The Christopher Elbow Chocolates were our top pick for 2014. In a blind tasting, one panel voted these their favorite chocolates. But in subsequent tastings, the chocolates came across as too sweet, and the flavors seemed a little heavy-handed. Though these chocolates are absolutely beautiful—they resemble baubles and jewels—they were pushed out of the top spots by more-compelling picks.
Fran's Gray & Smoked Salt Caramels are rumored to be some of Barack Obama's favorite confections. Although they were nice, we didn't like them enough to rank them among our favorites. The chocolates were on the sweeter side, and everything we tasted had a slightly burnt flavor.
The Woodhouse Chocolate Traditional Assortment didn't make a big impression with our first panel of tasters, but nobody ranked them last, either. This Napa Valley, California–based chocolatier's bonbons come in natural chocolate shades of brown and white, and they’re nestled in a robin's-egg-blue box.
John & Kira's Every Flavor Chocolates were big on flavor but ultimately pretty boring. All of them were the same shape, size, and texture, with the only difference being the flavors of the ganache filling. We didn't think these would make a great choice for a gift. Instead, they’d be better for setting out at a dinner party while guests are lingering over coffee.
We found the Neuhaus Classic Ballotin's packaging to be more exciting than actually biting into the chocolates. The shells were too thick, and the fillings were sugary and average. As for that packaging: The chocolates come in a box wrapped in shimmering paper, and it feels like Christmas morning when you’re opening them. Neuhaus, a Belgian chocolate company, has been around since 1857.
Jacques Torres Chocolate's Assorted Bonbons offering consists of pralines, ganaches, and caramels. The box is pretty, and we thought the truffles and filled chocolates were attractive. But the chocolate itself had no complexity, and the flavor died on the tongue.
The Vosges Exotic Truffle Collection includes a bacon bar that was beloved by many people we talked with, but the assorted chocolates weren't as well received. Vosges is famous for its round truffles with exotic, unexpected combinations, such as wasabi with black sesame and even Taleggio cheese with walnuts. The funniest comment we heard: "Cumin?? That's a mean trick!"
The Kate Weiser Chocolate Artist Collection is aptly named: Each shiny bonbon is a canvas for multicolored, Jackson Pollock–esque splatters. Although the look and the flavors are ambitious, the candies ultimately punched below their weight. The chocolate casings were thick. And they overpowered the fillings, which promised complexity—with components like cherry pâte de fruit and almond gianduja—but delivered muted flavor.
The No Whey Everything Good Collection is a nut-free option made in an allergen-free facility. But ultimately all of the flavors were too perfume-y, and the chocolate came off as waxy.
The Godiva Dark Chocolate Gift Box is another that came up in our comments section. These chocolates were Lesley's favorite in high school, but since then, the quality seems to have gone downhill. And we truly believe these chocolates wouldn't hold a candle to our picks.
The John Kelly Chocolates 12 Piece Signature Handcrafted Chocolate Collection came recommended in the comments section by a reader. The box felt reassuringly heavy in the hand, but the chocolates themselves were intimidatingly huge—each one is about the size of half a Snickers bar. The majority of these were overly sweet, and most of the fillings were thick and pasty, like old-timey fudge (to be fair, the company describes its chocolates as "truffle fudge," which feels accurate).
The See's Assorted Chocolates box was one of the value picks in our first tasting lineup. The chocolates tend to be bigger, enough for two bites instead of one, with a mix of dark and milk chocolate around old-fashioned nougat and nut-caramel fillings. The assortment may be a nostalgic standby for devotees, but it can't compete with the more-boutique chocolates out there. Still, these pieces were far and away better than the Russell Stover chocolates.
Speaking of Russell Stover, this chocolate, along with Whitman's, received poor scores from our panelists. Tasters commented on how artificial-tasting the samples were, and they generally disliked them as a whole.
If a chocolatier takes painstaking care to use only the finest ingredients, without any preservatives, the ideal window for consumption is two weeks from the day the chocolates were made (you can also go by the time frame provided by the chocolate maker). Your best bet is to buy as close to the day you’ll be giving them as possible.
If you receive a huge box of chocolates and can't finish them in two weeks, you can store them in the refrigerator for up to one month. After that, the flavors of the creams and ganaches can turn stale. When storing chocolates in the refrigerator, be sure to wrap the box very well in plastic wrap, and seal it in a zip-top bag. Prior to eating chocolates, let them come to room temperature before unwrapping, to avoid any condensation.
This article was edited by Marguerite Preston.
Mark Bitterman, owner of The Meadow, interview
G. Daniela Galarza, Valentine's day chocolates: How to order online (subscription required), The Washington Post, January 31, 2022
Good Food Awards
International Chocolate Awards
Gabriella Gershenson is an editor on Wirecutter's kitchen team. Since the early aughts, she has been covering food for publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Time Out New York, and Saveur, and she is a James Beard Award nominee. She considers herself an honorary Canadian but will not take sides in the Montreal–versus–New York bagel debate.
Lesley Stockton is a senior staff writer reporting on all things cooking and entertaining for Wirecutter. Her expertise builds on a lifelong career in the culinary world—from a restaurant cook and caterer to a food editor at Martha Stewart. She is perfectly happy to leave all that behind to be a full-time kitchen-gear nerd.
Haley Sprankle was an updates writer at Wirecutter covering kitchen gadgets and financial content. She loves French bulldogs, French tucks, and french fries. It's a wonder she hasn't been to France yet, but it's next on her to-do list.
by Ellen Lee, Caitlin Giddings, and Wirecutter Staff
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