Consumer Reports tests chocolates to find the best tasting ones for your money

CLEVELAND - Americans spend more than $700 million on chocolate for Valentine's Day, according to the National Confectioners Association.

But what's the best tasting chocolate for the money? Consumer Reports taste testers have sampled more than 30 boxes of gift chocolates to help you.

One of the priciest is Richart Petits Collection Intense Ballotin. It goes for $67 plus shipping. But it wasn't the best. The chocolate coatings are chalky, and some of the fillings reminded the taste testers of soap.

Far better, but still pricey — the Norman Love Confections 25-piece Signature Gift Box, with ultrasmooth chocolates and unusual fillings. It costs $49, and with shipping you'll pay more than $60.

But Consumer Reports also found some very good chocolates that cost far less. And you can get them in stores, so you won't have to pay for shipping.

-Godiva Gold Ballotin 36-piece box, $40, especially if your valentine likes really sweet chocolates.

-Ferrero Collection Fine Assorted Confections, just $11. The truffles are flavorful, and the crisp wafer coatings and nuts add interesting texture.

-See's Assorted Chocolates, around $17 a box.

Consumer Reports says chocolates are best when eaten fresh. Most last for only 10 days to three weeks, another reason to enjoy them right away.

Northeast Ohio is home to several excellent chocolate manufacturers you can support this Valentine's Day.

Malley's Chocolates is a Cleveland area institution.  With over 17 locations, the family run company has been in business since 1935. Malley's offers a full range of chocolates and offers hand-dipped chocolate strawberries, a Valentine's Day favorite.

In Akron, Harry London Gourmet Chocolates offers over 500 different chocolate creations. In business for 84 years, Harry London churns out the chocolate in its facility near the Akron-Canton Airport. Over 80 thousand pounds of white, milk and dark chocolate roll off the conveyor belt into pretty boxes.

And Willoughby is home to Brandt's Candies. In business since 1948, the Brandt family has special chocolate recipes passed through generations. Each piece of chocolate is hand-dipped and hand-packaged.

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