Friday, January 28, 2011


It's time to redefine Valentine's chocolates, and scrap the tacky foil and lace red heart box, for a much more chic and personal one. If you've ever wondered how cool it would be to create your own candy bars, look no further than Choccreate!

Momma Told Me: The best candy bar is subjective.

What is your all time, favorite candy bar? Does it have coconut in it? Or perhaps nuts, caramel, or nougat? Shopping for Valentine's chocolates for your sweetie can be a little challenging, and unfortunately, I'm not about to make that any easier. It's bad enough there are 3 main types of chocolates, but then when you add cocoa percentages, and filling or toppings, my sweet tooth aches from conceptual overload. It's for this exact reason people either hate, or love the traditional Valentine's gift of a box of chocolates (hold onto the box notion for a moment). For me, it's always been a bit hairy, having to weed out all of the 'pesky' impostors for good chocolate. My grandparents would always give me the $.88 mini boxes, which tasted just awful, full of aromatic cremes. My father, he'd get me a bod twice the size of my head, and I become so overwhelmed I'd inevitably start chucking random chocolates in my face!

In 2007, after her mother passed away, Choccreate's creator sought to spread the joy and warmth her mother had given each year during the holidays. With custom candy bars topped with nuts, fruit, and decorations to match the season, her Momma would bring smiles to everyone through a love of chocolate. Taking the emotion and spark of individually designed chocolates, the company set out to provide a unique customer experience superior to any other.

Featuring the finest of German milk, white, and dark chocolate as a base, Choccreate offers a unique line of their own zany creations, as well as a custom ordering system. Buyers can select from healthy pre-designed bars, or Zora's personal foodie favorites, for fast processing and easy shopping. Surprisingly, the pricing on these custom treats is actually much lower than comparable services. Instead of charging by weight, or using a complex price level chart, Choccreate shows the price to add each topping before you ever even click. I don't have to browse 'ingredient tiers', or do fancy math, the cart updates immediately, and the price is always visible before adding! This just may be my favorite feature!

To customize a bar, or two, or three, for your sweetie, simply begin by choosing one of the 3 main premium bar bases. Each 3.5 oz bar starts at just $3.95. Then, choose from a variety of topping across several categories; Fruit, Nuts & Cereal, Gourmet, Decorations, Herbs & Spices, and Extras & More. Under 'fruit' you'll find a rainbow of premium dried fruits such as kiwi, banana chips, and papaya. Nuts & Cereal featured 18 varieties of seeds/nuts, and a handful of cereal based ingredients. The gourmet category is slightly more eccentric, with the option to add 24kt Gold Powder for $3.50, or Candied Rose Petals for $1.95. Extras & More is an interesting collection of salty and sweet treats, Decorations covers an array of sugar charms for holidays and themes, and you'll find everything from crushed spearmint to curry powder under Herbs & Spices.

Individual topping additions start as low as $0.35, and are distributed evenly across the bar during it's setting period. When I later returned to create my bars for review, I noticed there was no way to 'double up' on a topping. I found myself wishing I could pay for extra of a topping, but there was no option. Perhaps this is a feature they will implement in the future, or a simple note at checkout would suffice? I also couldn't find an indication of maximum ingredients, but surely one 3.5 chocolate bar couldn't hold everything on the menu, so I wouldn't go with more than 5 to start. If you're feeling especially daring, you can order a mystery bar for $5, and if you're unsure of your sweetie's likes, there's also the certificate option.

In the end, with shipping, it often averages near $25 for 3-4 bars, depending on topping, which isn't bad for 10.5-14 ounces of custom, gourmet chocolate! After I ordered, I was impressed to receive a complete receipt, followed by a processing and shipping notice, as the order was completed. My Choccreate package arrived and I truly had no idea what to expect. What I found, pleasantly surprised me. Nestled in a high quality, gift worthy box, with top-view window were my candy bars. The brown and pink presentation box was tied off with an attached ribbon for a highly professional appearance that made me feel as though I was truly special, and enhanced the custom experience.

After I'd sufficiently admired the packaging, I opened it up to find my bars nestled amongst a thick layer of shredded packing, which had kept my bars in one piece during the journey. Each Choccreate bar was individually wrapped (in 2 layer like sleeves great for snacking), with an ingredients label on the back. How wonderful is it to know you picked out each and every ingredient in your bar! I immediately noticed the toppings were evenly distributed, and even arranged artistically. We had made one of each type of chocolate bar, and I eyed my milk chocolate, candied sunflower seed, Cheez-It creation with glee. I couldn't wait to dive in, and boy was it satisfying. While cheesy crackers likely sound odd as a topping for chocolate, it added a delightful flaky texture and hint of salt I thoroughly enjoyed in contrast to the crunch of the sunflower kernels!

Not only was the presentation perfect, but the quality of the chocolate was amazing, with it's melt-in-your-mouth qualities. We couldn't scarf our creations down fast enough. I could tell the white chocolate was premium because it didn't flake like sugary imitations do, and the dried strawberries were full of flavor. I don't think we had a single complain about the toppings we chose, and I'd gladly pay to have them again! something I'd like to see in the future? Customizable labels!

What Daughter Says: Make your favorite candy bar, your Choccreate bar!

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