If you are looking for a romantic Valentine’s Day gift, Italian chocolates are among the finest in the world.
“Italians are renowned for using only the best ingredients to create their recipes,” says food historian Francine Segan. The same could be said about their chocolates which rely on the finest regional ingredients.
“Italy was one of the first countries to get cocoa beans from the New World and has been creating fine chocolate for centuries,” says Segan. “The Italians were also the first to create the sublime combination of hazelnut and chocolate into gianduia, which led to so many of our favorites like Ferrero-Rocher and Perugina Baci,” she adds.
To assuage any guilt associated with this sweet indulgence, bear in mind that fine chocolates may be healthy, too, says Genny Nevoso, Executive Director of the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce West (IACCW). She points to a Harvard University study reporting that people who eat chocolate at least three times a month, live at least a year longer than those who don’t.
Ready to meet the challenge? Forbes.com has curated a list of some of the best Italian chocolates that can be ordered online for Valentine’s Day. They make perfect gifts for friends or lovers, all Made in Italy with stylish packaging. You may even want to treat yourself!
With roots in Turin (Piemonte), one of Italy’s chocolate capitals, Venchi chocolates date back more than 140 years All the company’s delectable chocolates are made with high-quality, natural ingredients; many feature hazelnuts and pistachios from the region that will appeal to anyone with a sweet tooth. Embellished with a beautiful flowery garland design, this Valentine’s Day tin has extra dark and milk chocolates, coupling elegance with romance.
Modica is a city in southeast Sicily known for its chocolates. This “antique” tin packaging of the small batch, fair trade chocolates made by Bonajuto reflects the company’s long history, having been made the same way for nearly 150 years (in fact, predating the Industrial Revolution and the birth of smooth chocolates). Bonajuto chocolates are made with only three ingredients: cocoa, sugar and spices (including hot red pepper, first used by Aztec chocolate makers). The textured red pepper chocolate truffles are dense, crystalline and a little spicy.
Available online from Zingerman’s
The third-largest confectionary company in the world, Ferrero Rocher began as a bakery in the town of Alba (in the province of Cuneo in Piemonte) some 70 years ago. These premium chocolates are made with the finest milk chocolate and hazelnuts and they’re easily recognizable because each piece is wrapped in elegant gold foil. The petite, heart-shaped Valentine’s Day tin contains three delightful pieces of Ferrero Rocher, an indulgent gift for your loved ones.
The Ferrero Golden Gallery Signature collection includes a wide variety of delicious chocolates spanning dark, milk, and white chocolate, packaged in an artful signature box. The flavors include Dark Opera, Caramel Leonardo, Biancoretti, Caramel Intenso, Coffee Maestria, Giandujot, Milk Cupola and White Opera.
Available at Target, in stores or online
The 100-year-old recipe for the iconic Perugina Baci Kiss is deliciously simple: fine cocoa and finely chopped hazelnuts blended to obtain a soft gianduia center, topped with a whole hazelnut, and covered with dark chocolate. Each candy is wrapped in silver and blue foil with a romantic message imprinted inside. The creation was sparked by the love affair between the company’s founders, Luisa Spagnoli and Giovanni Buitoni, who passed secret notes to each other at the Perugina plant. The chocolates are made in a hilltop town near the birthplace of San Valentino, just outside of Perugia (the capital of Umbria).
Baratti & Milano
Ferdinando Baratti and Edoardo Milano opened their confectionary in Turin (Piedmonte) in 1858. They garnered such a reputation for the quality of their products that they became the “Chocolate of the Royal Household of Savoy). The regal red and gold Holiday Hatbox is an impressive gift packed with a decadent variety of Baratti & Milano chocolates such as the famous Gianduiotti, the milk chocolate Nocciolatino, a combination of solid milk and dark chocolates, and the dressed to impress Pinguino chocolate.
Available online from Baratti & Milano
These sustainable “Made in Italy” chocolates have been produced in Turin since 1964 but it wasn’t until 2007 that Guido Gobino opened its first bottega (retail shop) in a historic building in the same city, followed by another retail shop in Milan. The makers use high-quality cocoa beans from Venezuela, Ecuador, Sao Tome, and Mexico; PGI hazelnuts from the Langhe; and milk from the Piedmontese chain. Armani has teamed up with the chocolatier to offer two special Armani/Dolci by Guido Gobino Valentine’s Day gifts that are beautifully wrapped in packaging inspired by the Rigoletto wallpaper by Armani Casa. The cremino has a double layer of caramel and the hand-decorated red pralines, a soft dark center with cocoa nibs.
Available online from Armani Dolci and in some Armani shops
Eataly’s Italian Chocolate Lover Gift Box
If you’re not sure which Italian chocolate is his/her/their favorite, the Chocolate Lover Gift Box from Eataly is the perfect solution. It includes a variety of products from some of Italy’s most famous regional chocolate-makers: Venchi, Sabadi, Caffarel, Amedei Tuscany, Antica Torroneria Piemontese and Domori.
Available in stores or online from Eataly
Dolceterra Share The Love
Can’t decide between citrus and chocolates? Want to hedge your bet? These romantic gifts offer the best of both worlds. Imported by Dolceterra, they contain confetti almonds with a hard outer shell (produced in Naples)—as well as Italian chocolates with Cremino fondant, and with gianduiotto and citrus. The fine chocolates are from well-respected brands like Majani (from Bologna) and Baratti & Milano, and are beautifully packaged by Italian artisans.
Available online from Dolceterra
Once you browse the websites, you’ll want to stock up on chocolates for other occasions!