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How We’re Celebrating Valentine’s Day: With Santa Barbara Chocolate Co!

When it comes to Valentine’s Day, one food comes to mind: chocolate. Heart-shaped boxes of chocolates and truffles of all kinds of flavor combinations. From chocolate-covered nuts to chewy caramels to taffy of all fruity flavors, it’s like a cornucopia of sweetness. But instead of getting chocolates from the drugstore, which is—let’s be honest—good but not super memorable—why not up the ante with a bit more quality chocolate? One that doesn’t just taste just chocolaty and sweet, but rather something that’s luxuriously rich and velvety? The kind of stuff that you can sit around and say you pick up hints of this and that in? (We kind of love doing that—both in jest with our pinkies up and in all seriousness.) So this year, we’re skipping the crinkly red paper and cheesy heart-shaped containers that are nestled in next to the giant roses and talking stuffed animals, and going for a few offerings from Santa Barbara Chocolate Co.
A little gem on the Central California coast, this company combines fresh ingredients from California with the highest quality, all-natural cacao. Gluten-free, fair trade, GMO-free and organic, this is certainly a sweet treat that you can feel good about buying. And it’s hella quality. Like, OMG-I-didn’t-know-chocolate-could-be-this-good quality. First, we tried the California Collection ($29), a one-pound box filled with walnuts dipped in dark chocolate, orange nougat, crisp toffees, butter cream truffles, dark-chocolate cranberries and more. It was good. Not life-changing, good, but, like, really good.
Up next, we tried this. A whole freakin’ three-pound bag of 72 percent dark chocolate that is awesome for melting and baking—and also, as my husband and I learned over the course of a few months–a really, really nice way to end a meal. Just a little piece (they kind of look like little chips) here and there. Dangerously good. (And how cool is it to know the exact rain forest the cacao is from?!)
The final life-changing hurrah though? Hands down the chocolate bars ($19 for a set of four). There aren’t enough exclamation points in the world to explain my love of these. We tried the Upland Bar (milk chocolate), the Dune Bar (milk chocolate mocha), the Willow Bar (dark chocolate) and the Marsh Bar (extra dark chocolate). I’m not a huge fan of milk chocolate usually, but this stuff was like butta. So smooth and creamy and melty and wonderful. And the Dune Bar, which adds mocha to the milk-chocolate mix? Well, it was so good I got angry. Which is always a good sign. And the dark chocolate varieties were some of the best I’ve had. Ever.
In addition to being EFFING delicious, these bars also come wrapped in gold. And when I first opened one my immediate thought was, “I got the golden ticket!”
And, indeed, I did get the golden ticket. Because every bite of these is winning. Big time.
What do you look for in a chocolate? Quality? Taste? Organic or fair-trade-ness? And will you be eating any chocolate today for Valentine’s Day? Do tell! —Jenn

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