If you can't decide between flowers and chocolate this Valentine's Day, you may be interested in the latest survey from the National Confectioners Association, which found that Americans on Feb. 14 overwhelmingly prefer chocolate to flowers — 69 versus 31 percent.
Keep that in mind this week as you do your part to contribute to the projected $1.057 billion in candy and chocolate sales for Valentine's Day. When it comes to boxed chocolates, the most popular flavors are caramel, chocolate-covered nuts, cream-filled and chocolate-filled.
Here are six South Florida spots where you can't go wrong.
JP's Chocolate Shoppe (2219 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors, 954-368-5533, JPsChocolateShoppe.com): J.P. Cobleigh and Barry Miller opened their 800-square-foot shop just before Christmas. They source their chocolate and other confections from some of the best chocolatiers across the country, including truffles from Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate in St. Louis and the Art of Fudge in New Castle, Pa. All truffles cost $30 per pound, while fudge costs $16 per pound. They also sell champagne and wine, which can be included in customized baskets.
Dylan's Candy Bar (801 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, 305-531-1988, DylansCandyBar.com): Dylan Lauren, daughter of Ralph, opened her first candy emporium in 2001 in New York, which more than 2.5 people visit every year. The year-old Miami Beach location, packed to the rafters with multicolored confections, seems equally popular. Valentine's Day brings gummy bears, chocolate bars and chocolate-dipped strawberries. The store will host a dipping event from noon to 8 p.m. on Valentine's Day, when the Belgian-chocolate-dipped berries will be available for $5 each, or six for $25.
Hugo and Victor (The Webster, 1220 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 305-538-9601): Hugues Pouget and Sylvain Blanc opened what they call the "pastry boutique of their dreams" in the Left Bank of Paris in 2010. Their first American shop opened in January inside the luxury retailer called the Webster. Along with seasonally inspired pastries, beautifully packaged chocolates are also a specialty. For Valentine's Day, they've created a $32 notebook chocolate box, which contains four sesame pralines, four hazelnut pralines and four salmon pralines.
To the Moon Marketplace (2205 Wilton Drive, Fort Lauderdale, 954-564-2987, ToTheMoonMarketplace.com): This emporium of every nostalgic candy you can think of also stocks some very fine chocolate. Consider the 1-pound, heart-shaped box of all-natural, gluten-free chocolates from famed St. Louis chocolatemaker Bissinger's. To the Moon is also the only South Florida store carrying a new line of chocolates from Kohler Co. Yes, the same Kohler that makes kitchen faucets. Dark Chocolate Hearts have raspberry ganache centers with subtle hints of champagne and cognac. They cost $9.99 for a box of four, or $18.99 for nine. They're also available at KohlerChocolates.com.
Chocolates by Mr. Roberts (505 NE 20th St., Boca Raton, 561-392-3007, ChocolatesByMrRoberts.com): Mr. Roberts — aka Heinz Robert Goldschneider — worked with current owners Michelle and Steve Zander for six months before selling his business to the couple in 2007. Goldschneider passed away four years ago, but the Zanders have maintained the founder's strict European standards at the chocolate shop he opened in 1982. Truffles are a specialty, with 28 varieties in milk and dark chocolate. Be sure to include a hazelnut praline truffle topped with crushed violet petals in your order. A 1-pound box of truffles costs $38. A half pound costs $20.
A Flair for Fudge (754-444-0585, AFlairForFudge.com): Hilary Saporta's online-only fudge shop has been operating for almost three years. The Fort Lauderdale fudgemaker's specialty is unexpected flavors such as Cuban coffee toffee, Key lime pie, wasabi and ginger, and guava and cream cheese. She even does black-bean fudge. For Valentine's Day, Saporta is offering special samplers. They cost $25 for 20 pieces, with four pieces each of her top five flavors; or $10 for a 10-piece sampler. Become a member of her Fudge Fan Club to find out where she's offering tasting events. Orders for Valentine's Day must be received by Feb. 9 and ordered by telephone.
jtanasychuk@SouthFlorida.com or 954-356-4632