Chocolate is an appropriate gift for (almost) all occasions. It is easy; it is universally appropriate, unless you are looking for a present for a dog; it is ideal for hostess gifts, cheer-up gifts, thinking-of-you gifts, Valentine's Day gifts (tread carefully), no-reason gifts, and I-forgot-to-buy-a-present gifts; and it is festive, yet impersonal. Chocolate may be the one gift you can give to your lover, your mother, your 9-year-old nephew, and your boss.
From candies to fudge sauce, here are 10 highly giftable (and relatively shelf-stable) chocolate treats to keep in your stash.
- 4-Pack Topping Gift Set, $20 for four 10-ounce jars at Sanders: We've recommended it before, and we'll recommend it again: Sander's Hot Fudge Dessert Topping (the name is not its selling point) makes an ideal hostess or thank-you gift. While I am partial to the dark chocolate hot fudge, it comes in multiple flavors. It's inexpensive, it scales (give a single jar; give a set), and it is an indulgence people rarely buy for themselves.
- Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Sweetheart Smidgens, $11 for 14.5 ounces at Gertrude Hawk: This is not the fanciest chocolate in the world, nor is it is the most sophisticated, but it is delicious, with the perfect level of mouth-melt. I love the bunny-shaped ones, but because it is February, we will have to make do with the hearts.
- Aztec Elixir Drinking Chocolate, $15 for eight ounces at Vosges: Behold! The virility secrets of the Aztecs, packed into a single pretty tin! Vosege's deluxe take on the ancient Aztec chocolate drink, xocatyl, is made from chili-infused ground cacao beans, Mexican vanilla beans, and Ceylon cinnamon.
- 11 pc. Mendiant, $16 at La Châtelaine Chocolat Co.: An appealing alternative to the classic bar, these quintessentially French chocolate discs from Montana feature rich chocolate topped with a sprinkle of candied fruits, nuts, and fleur de sel.
- X Kelly Wearstler Bijou Chocolate Bar, $13 for three ounces at Compartés: No, chocolate bars won't last in your closet forever, but this slab of dark chocolate was too gorgeous not to include. Encrusted with multi-color sugar crystals, it is the only gift on this list that literally sparkles. And the wrapping's not too shabby, either.
- Chocolate Caviar, $25 for two ounces at Eli Zabar: Delightfully unnecessary, this tiny caviar jar is filled with "little chocolate granules" meant to be sprinkled on anything that needs a chocolate sprinkle (and probably some things that don't).
- Dragee Sampler, $29 for 12 ounces at Recchiuti Confections: These aren't just any chocolate-covered nuts. Recchiuti prides themselves on their dragee panning technique — that's the method of coating nuts and fruit with chocolate — and they're particularly concerned with ensuring a perfect nut-to-chocolate ratio.
- Hot Chocolate Pops by Ticket Chocolate, $17 for three at Mouth: Seasonally appropriate and kid-approved, these pops are designed to transform hot milk into molten chocolate. Each pack comes with a trio of festive flavors: peppermint, peanut butter cup, and salted caramel.
- Cadbury Selection Box of 10 Full Size British Chocolate Bars, $18: Perfect for Anglophiles and ideal for taste-testing, this variety pack of 10 decidedly un-fancy British chocolate bars will save your recipient a trip across the pond.
- Wine & Chocolate Lovers, $30 for three 5-ounce bars at Scharffen Berger: Wine and chocolate make excellent companions, and this five-bar set from Scharffen Berger (reportedly Julia Child's preferred American brand) is designed with pairing in mind. In addition to the chocolate, it comes with a wine tasting guide, although sadly it does not come with wine.