Monday, May 5, 2008

Chocolate for Mother's Day: Think Pink!

Just as newborn girls are given mounds of pink dresses and onesies, on Mother's Day we moms are treated to pink cards, pink flowers and yes, even pink chocolate. I've spent the last couple days searching online for the best Mother's Day chocolate gifts (aside from the SF Gourmet Chocolate Tour, of course!). For the past two weeks, I've been getting emails from local and national chocolate companies touting new products or special offers or just simply reminding me why chocolate is the perfect gift for Mom. When I visited most of these web sites, I was a little disappointed by the lack of creativity. After all, this is Chocolate's last big holiday before a long, long summer of quiet sales.

For example, visit a See's right now and you'll be assaulted by Pink. Their Mother's Day Keepsake Box ($14.95) is shiny pink, wrapped in pink ribbon and topped with a giant pink and purple flower. The chocolate assortment includes 4 pink foil covered milk chocolates. Perfect for grandma maybe, but not for the modern Mom.

Here are my three favorite chocolate Mother's Day gifts, followed by a couple honorable mentions.
1) The Chuao ChocoPod Purse
I love this gift because it involves a fashion accessory no woman can get enough of and chocolate. Did I mention the purse is not even pink? Chuao says the mini purse is inspired by the Louis Vuitton Multicolore Murakami design, and indeed it looks stylish enough for a Gossip Girl episode. The purse is filled with 3 "ChocoPods" in banana, passion fruit and strawberry. I've never tried Chuao "ChocoPods" and as an adamant non-dieter, am wary of their description: "slim, 60 calorie, 11-gram bars." But it's very clever marketing that I'm guessing would be successful in Southern California. At $4.75 the ChocoPod Purse is a bargain, and deserves to be combined with something else, like their "ChocolateSmarts" cards or their "Elegancia Jewelry Box."
Chuao (pronounced chew-WOW) is a chocolate company founded in 2002 by two Venezuelan brothers in San Diego. The name comes from the renowned cacao-producing region in central Venezuela. Here in the Bay Area you can find their chocolates at Cost Plus, Whole Foods, Bristol Foods and even Safeway.

2) Vosges Mother's Day Hat Box
Given Katrina Markoff's penchant for purple, I can't expect her Mother's Day offerings to take leave entirely of the pastel world. With a fun nod to an old fashioned ideal of motherhood, Vosges takes a beautiful hat box and fills it with sweet chocolates whose names are meant to appeal to women. (No wasabi or bacon in this one!) For $95, Mom will enjoy Caramel Toffee and an Exotic Caramel box, plus Bianca Couture Cocoa (white chocolate with lemon myrtle and lavender). The hatbox also includes the new Les Fleurs du Chocolat Collection, which will save you money on flowers too. Each truffle is topped with an organic flower petal: marigold, nasturtium, rose and orchid.

Katrina's description of her inspiration is worth repeating simply for her colorful adjectives:
"I had conjured up an image of a free-spirited lady who traveled the globe seeking out the avant-garde, obscure, traditional and elegant. She would embody a classy-yet-edgy style all of her own, a little quirky yet polished at the same time. Then I saw a pile of vintage hatboxes at the Broadway Antique Mart and thought: ah, perfect. The Vosges Haut-Chocolat boîte à chapeau is meant to evoke this lovely lady, her luxury, her travels, her individuality."

3) Recchiuti Burnt Caramels
The product itself is nothing new. Michael Recchiuti has been making his signature burnt caramels for a long time, and they get re-packaged nearly every holiday season with new designs. But this is one design I love! The colors are stylish yet understated - pale green, white and brown. There is a modern silhouette of a flower on one, but no curlicues or ruffles, thank you. The 8 piece collection sells for $19.00.

If you're still not satisfied, I'd also recommend the Charles Chocolate Mother's Day Collection. This $60 edible chocolate box is filled with peanut butterflies, fleur de sels and Poire Williams caramel - many topped with a tasteful pink flower motif. Each Mother's Day gift comes with a free letterpress greeting card. For a more traditional chocolate gift, Joseph Schmidt offers the Floral Vase Box for $35. It's shaped like a bouquet and has some flavors that would make the French faint: peanut butter & jelly, orange sherbert and double latte.