Champagne wishes, chocolate dreams

Love in a box: The aphrodisiac collection at the French Broad Chocolate Lounge. Photos by Max Cooper
Love in a box: The aphrodisiac collection at the French Broad Chocolate Lounge. Photos by Max Cooper

There’s no reason not to go local when it comes to chocolate for Valentine’s Day. Here are (lucky number) seven opportunities:

If you haven't had a chance to yet, drop by Chocolate Gems, located at 25 Broadway in downtown Asheville. The shop’s handmade chocolates include fiery selections like a cayenne-enhanced confection and an ancho-chipotle variety. The shop also offers spiced Mexican drinking chocolates. And on Friday, Feb. 10, Chocolate Gems will offer a wine-and-chocolate tasting beginning at 6:30 p.m. featuring the shop's handmade chocolates paired with selections from the New River Winery, located in Lansing, N.C.

The French Broad Chocolate Lounge once again offers its aphrodisiac collection, which includes confections like the Cosmic Love Potion, made with an elixir that a local herbalist conjured up in a dream (true story). Also included in the box is an Indian kulfi spiked with spices that include cardamom, a cayenne-enhance dark-chocolate truffle and a fig-and-port variety. 10 S. Lexington Ave. http://frenchbroadchocolates.com

The Chocolate Fetish has a number of Valentine's Day specials, including a "Dark Desires" truffle filled with European dark chocolate ganache with a hint of vanilla bean. Chocolatier Elizabeth Foley calls the treat a "simple, dark and pure indulgence." The shop also offers a pomegranate-pink peppercorn truffle, a number of hand-painted chocolate hearts and much more Valentine-friendly fare. 36 Haywood St. http://www.chocolatefetish.com

Raw Shakti Chocolates are handmade in Asheville, and offer an 85 percent-cacao chocolate that's a raw, vegan, gluten-free and diabetic-friendly Valentine's gift. For extra, um, fortitude on Valentine's Day, we recommend the Energy Elixir made with Himalayan pink sea salt, guarana and rhodiola root, all which help to boost your body's energy levels. On Tuesday, Feb. 14, from 5 until 8 p.m., Shakti will join forces with The Wine Studio of Asheville for a wine and chocolate pairing to benefit Slow Food of Asheville. For more about The Wine Studio, visit http://www.winestudioasheville.com. For information on where to buy Shakti chocolate, visit http://rawshaktichocolate.com.

UliMana, another local raw chocolate maker, is offering the chance to get free chocolates on Valentine’s Day. Visit the company’s Facebook page, write a love letter to your favorite UliMana product, and automatically get entered to win.

Black Mountain Chocolates
is a small-scale bean-to-bar chocolate factory in Swannanoa, actually. The company currently offers a 70 percent dark chocolate bar mixed with cocoa nibs for a serious experience for chocolate lovers that would go amazingly well with a rich red wine. You can order straight from the website at http://www.blackmountainchocolate.com.

Another raw chocolate maker, Sinless Raw Chocolates, has moved to Swannanoa. Find more information about them at http://www.sinlessraw.com.

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