Nothing against Mr. Russell Stover, but if your Valentine this year happens to be a gourmand, you might want to invest in a package of chocolates that you didn't pick up at CVS alongside a loofah and some DD batteries. So-called for their resemblance to the fungus, chocolate truffles have other characteristics in common with their mushroom namesake: they're rare, indulgent, and yes, often expensive. A truffle is characterized by its spherical shape, which traditionally guards a rich, cocoa-coated center of chocolate ganache, liqueur, nougat, toffee, or nuts.
As anyone who has ever walked through the Near West Loop on a hot summer day knows, Chicago is home to Blommer Chocolate Company. While they may not be as aggressively fragrant, there are plenty of other local confectioners, artisans, and chocolatiers who make one heck of a tasty product. The price tags for these high-end chocolates can be steep; some large boxes of truffles retail for hundreds of dollars. But often the cost correlates with quality ingredients, whether that means Valhrona cocoa or Dom Pérignon cream. Of course, if you agree that money can't buy love, there are a few under-$10 options on our list as well.
So where are you picking up sweets for your Valentine? Do you drop the big bucks or pick up a heart-shaped Whitman's sampler? Click here to look at the slideshow of some of our favorite options ».