Her favorite has long been Moritz Ice Cubes, which melt in your mouth to release a velvety chocolate hazelnut. Decades ago, she’d also surprise me with Russell Stover French Mints -- a chocolate smudge from one is still evident on page 14 of “Fifty Famous Fairy Tales,” the first book I ever bought.
Today, if the sky were the limit, I suppose I’d choose Godiva or Leonidas or Cova over most anything else I’ve tried. (Though I’ve lately been hearing about Mexican chocolates…) But I do have limits, both financial and caloric, so, with a nod to Mom, I’ve been on a mission to find a delicious everyday chocolate.
It seems like wine. A white wine is easy to drink and it’s quenching -- like a milk chocolate. But if you’re willing to try a little harder, to pay closer attention, there’s -- as with red wine -- a deeper and more satisfying payoff from dark chocolate. And it pays after a piece or two, not a handful. I’ve always preferred Mounds to Almond Joy, and thought (like their commercial said) that it was about the nuts. But now I think it’s about the dark chocolate. So I focused my mission to finding an everyday dark chocolate.
For a year, I sampled bags and bars of plain, high-quality product: Dove/Mars (too sweet), Hershey (too bitter), Starbucks (too pricey), others that were literally forgettable. My favorite? Ghirardelli 60% Cocoa – rich and smooth and 4 bites per 55-calorie, 25¢ square.
I know science is still out on exactly where the “health benefits” from chocolate’s flavonoids kick in -- at a product that’s 60% cocoa? 70%? 90%? Let me just add a caution that cocoa has a surprising amount of fiber -- enough in those higher-% products to, um, startle an unsuspecting colon.
Besides, I learned to love chocolate as a treat, not a medicine.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Mom.