There's chocolate and there's CHOCOLATE. For Valentine's Day, you want the latter. Here are the ones that win our hearts.
For the young at heart: Lip-shaped milk- and dark-chocolate lollipops are whimsical, but the hand-poured, -painted, and -wrapped treats also appeal to chocolate purists. $2.99 each for the small, $3.79 for the large at area Balducci's stores.
For serious food lovers: Bethesda-based Barbara Norman, aka the Blue Moon Chocolatier, has a new array of sweets. Among them are a lush pink-Champagne truffle; a white-chocolate truffle scented with real truffles; wafer minicones filled with raspberry-infused ganache and swiped in dark chocolate; and chocolate hearts with glazed fruit and roasted nuts. $7 to $58 at Periwinkle (202-364-3076) and Dalton Brody (202-244-7197) in DC, Bradley Food & Beverage in Bethesda (301-654-6966), River Falls Market in Potomac (301-765-8001), and Finewine.com in Gaithersburg (301-987-5933).
For artistic types: A large chocolate heart filled with chocolates, including white chocolate filled with white-chocolate cinnamon ganache. Jacques Poulain, a former pastry chef at Kinkead's and the Willard Hotel, airbrushes abstract designs on the hearts in shades of red and pink. $24 at the new Cacao in Olney (301-774-5300).
For the health conscious: Large chocolate-covered strawberries in flavors like white chocolate with shredded coconut and dark chocolate with dark-chocolate curls. $32 to $75. Order in advance from Chocolate Chocolate in DC (202-466-2190).
For jet-set fashionistas: One Thousand and One Nights–seven varieties of chocolate from all over the world–include chocolate-cloaked lemon and orange slices, and green-chocolate-dipped almonds that look like olives. $60 a pound, including custom packaging in one-to-three-pound keepsake jewelry boxes and fabric chests, at Crème de la Crème in DC (202-333-7773).
For the slightly naughty: A box of X-rated truffles: "Seduce Him" are made with cardamom, anise, and cinnamon, while "Seduce Her" feature dark-chocolate ganache with jasmine and ginger. $26 for ten truffles (five of each) at area Godiva stores.
For the House & Garden set: Lavender creams, rose creams, and rose-infused and lavender-pistachio truffles are among the flavors in the 24-piece truffle and creams box, made with real rose petals. $30 at Kingsbury Chocolates in Alexandria (703-548-2800).
For the Francophile: Intense French chocolates from Jean Claude Panel are fashioned with hazelnuts, praline, and pear and plum brandy. $30 to $50 at La Cuisine in Alexandria (703-836-4435).
For the romantic: Boxes fashioned from silk and paper flowers and filled with nine truffles are flown in weekly from Belgium. $15.95 at Leonidas Chocolates in DC (202-944-1898).
For trend watchers: National Cathedral School grad Rachel Schifter Thebault, who started Tribeca Treats in New York, offers fantastical truffle combos such as the Orvieto and grappa ganache with dried currants. $40 for 30 pieces. No less delicious are almond marzipan and dark-chocolate mint crunch (www.tribecatreats.com).