Haven’t gotten that Valentine’s gift for your loved one? New York has more than a few first-class chocolate shops ready to help those out in a last-minute pickle. And there’s no reason to stick to Lindt or Godiva (or the last mangled box of Russell Stover at Duane Reade) when the city has so many more distinctive options. Here are five to impress your sweetie.
Known as the king of chocolate in New York, Jacques Torres has kept his standards consistently high over the years; his shops are still a great bet for chocolate gifts of all sorts. Perhaps the Champagne truffles, above, or a chocolate “puzzle” spelling out “I Love You?” And we’re sure that the raspberry body paint (a raspberry caramel) is quite tasty, but as for whether it’s an appropriate Valentine’s gift … we’ll leave that decision up to you. Multiple locations, mrchocolate.com
A third-generation French pastry chef, Francois Payard has made a name for himself in New York — in chocolates just as much as in his plated desserts. His chocolate collections include such compelling flavors as jasmine tea and seasame-almond praline; or go even more decadent (and why not, it’s Valentine’s Day!) with Champagne truffles. Multiple locations, payard.com
Founded by Kee Ling Tong in 2002, Kee’s has added employees over the years but still runs like a one-woman show; all the chocolates are handmade. And they’re stunners, from the relatively straightforward (ginger with dark chocolate, fresh raspberry truffles) to the much more unusual (smoked salt, lemongrass-mint, blended pepper). Call ahead, as Kee’s can get swamped around Valentine’s. Multiple locations, keeschocolates.com
This creative candy-making operation turns out elegant, whimsical treats for the sweet tooth with a refined palate and a childlike sense of fun. Who could resist a much-improved Snickers bar, the Snacker, with peanuts, caramel, and chocolate nougat; or the King, Elvis-inspired with banana ganache, peanut butter nougat, cookie and milk chocolate? Liddabit makes enticing caramels and dressed up caramel-corn, too. Many markets throughout the boroughs carry its better-known products, but head to the Chelsea Market store for the widest selection. Shop at Chelsea Market as well as many retail locations, liddabitsweets.com
For the Valentine with a soft spot for anything adorable, it’s impossible to improve on the charming chocolate mice and chocolate penguins from this Flatiron shop — they’re so cute, staring up from their wooden box, that they’re almost hard to eat. But the quality of Burdick’s chocolate ensures that you’ll dig in eventually. There’s a whole line of chocolate gifts both Valentine’s-themed and less so, but the animals are their signature for a reason. 5 E. 20th St., 212-796-0143, burdickchocolate.com