Chocolate is showing no signs of losing its status as a Valentine’s Day staple, but it is taking on new and exciting forms for the holiday.
“In my mind it is all about romance,” said Theresa Anderson, owner of Swan Chocolates. “When [you] think about a romantic dinner, candlelight — chocolate is naturally decadent and sinful … so when celebrating a holiday when you are all cozy and cuddly, it kind of comes together.”
Swan Chocolates in Merrimack and Nashua recently released its Sweet Romance collection, filled with toasted hazelnut crunch, chocolate-drenched strawberry, sinful hot chocolate and pink champagne toast (as in “cheers,” not bread) truffles and solid white, milk and dark chocolate hearts. The sinful hot chocolate truffles are a new addition at Swan and are adorned with white chocolate hearts and sparkles with an edible luster dust.
“It adds a little shimmer and allows us to dress things up,” Anderson said of the luster dust.
The case that holds the Sweet Romance collection is a brown limited-edition cigar-style box made in Nepal. The purchase of the boxes, Anderson said, sustained a village in Nepal for three months.
Swan Chocolates also recently began offering its Goddess Collection of truffles and the Key to Your Heart, in time for the most romantic day of the year.
The Key to Your Heart is a key made of one quarter pound of chocolate and covered in gold luster dust. The key is packaged in a long thin gold box with a red ribbon tied around it, with a skeleton key and tag reading: “Key to Your Heart” on the bow.
Long gone are the “old-school” red velvet heart boxes adorned with doilies at Van Otis in Manchester, as the shelves are filled with more modern cases to hold treats for your sweetheart: chocolate boxes, filled or waiting to be filled, now come in metallic, satin and covered in a variety of patterns. The shop also sells guy-friendly boxes decorated like tuxedos and collared shirts with ties. Boxes are able to hold one quarter of a pound to seven pounds, which go for $200.
At both Swan and Van Otis, champagne comes covered in chocolate. The champagne bottle is shrink-wrapped, then dipped in chocolate. Customers are instructed to cut the wrap off at the neck of the bottle, and if it’s chilled, the chocolate will fall off to be eaten in chunks. Van Otis accepts orders for custom messages to be written in chocolate on the bottles, as well as on blank chocolate hearts, and the bottles at Swan are pre-decorated with sparkling edible champagne-flavored paillettes to give the appearance of bubbly spilling out.
Lakisha Jones, floor manager at Van Otis, said she hopes that another one of the store’s adult-centric gifts — chocolate cordials made with Zorvino wines — turns out to be a best seller this year. They are sold at the shop in chocolate raspberry port, Cranzeeno, Bacca Z, Fragole strawberry and brandy flavors.
Swan also sells a black Muscat dessert wine, its label adorned with a heart, as well as a Framboise that pairs well with dark chocolate, Anderson said.
For children, Swan sells the Krispy Heart, a chocolate-dipped heart-shaped cereal treat on a stick, and Van Otis sells chocolate-covered cereal treats and marshmallows.
Chocolate mold rose pops in milk, white and dark chocolate, all hand-painted with colored luster dust to add green to their leaves and red to their petals, fill a display at Swan. At Van Otis, chocolate rose pops are wrapped in red and pink foil and come on fake stems, and cloth roses sprout from chocolate flower pots.
Real long-stemmed roses can be ordered at Swan Chocolates and will be ready for pick-up on Friday, Feb. 11.
Roses are not the only long-stemmed item sold at Swan, as the shop offers chocolate-dipped long-stemmed strawberries that fill the palm of your hand — more than 5,000 were sold at the store last year. Van Otis sells chocolate-covered jumbo strawberries and cherries, and with 24 hours’ notice Van Otis can also build a chocolate strawberry tree of 50 dipped berries fused together with chocolate.
Fondue chocolate for homemade dipping or to fill a chocolate fountain is available at Swan.
A tower of three red metallic boxes, wrapped and packaged together, is filled with a variety of sweets for Valentine’s Day. The largest box contains Van Otis’ famed Swiss fudge, another has
Chocolate-covered Oreo cookies and the smallest one has a ¼-pound bag of assorted Valentine’s Day candy, including conversation hearts, jelly beans, gummy bears and cinnamon hearts, which are also sold in individual bags.
Glass jars on the shop’s counter are filled with pink and red foil-wrapped chocolate hearts; Jones said the shop sells between 70 and 90 pounds annually of just the red alone.
The best part of being able to fill the needs of someone seeking a gift for their Valentine, Jones said, is helping them to start a tradition.
“We have one customer that comes in every year to fill a heart box he purchased for his Valentine 15 years ago and it’s falling apart … we are able to help make people’s experience with the holiday one to enjoy, one to remember,” she said.