Sweets for your sweetie

Special to SunSpot

No one turns down chocolate. It tastes good, makes an excellent Valentine's Day present and, thanks to the Internet, can be one of the easiest and fastest gifts to give to your beloved. There are many Web sites offering the tasty treat in a variety of forms.

For domestic, yet gourmet, chocolates look to Harry and David. The site offers a range of chocolate-filled and -coated goodies from candies to cookies, but the store's most sought-after treats are towers. The most enticing is the Deluxe Valentine Tower of Treats ($49.95), which includes fresh fruit, truffles, chocolate candies, cookies and more. Less expensive towers, the Tower of Hearts and the Chocolate Drum Tower, are $39.95 and $32.95, respectively. Get it there fast by choosing the express shipping option.

The ultimate in high-end indulgence can be found in Godiva chocolate boutiques. This is tried-and-true fancy stuff. The Web site www.godiva.com has all the same goodies and they're easy to find with a handy chocolate guide that allows you to input who your gift is for, what occasion, a price range and whether you'll need kosher candy. It's easy to find all your favorite caramels, creams and fruits. There's also a large Valentine-specific collection with gifts ranging from $12 to $135. Most items are traditional heart-shaped boxes filled with a variety of Godiva chocolates. Also available are less pricey, novelty items. One favorite: Romeo Bear. He's a plush brown teddy bear dressed in Renaissance clothing and carrying a bag of Godiva chocolates.

For less gourmet, but better-known chocolate, refer to Hershey's. Of course, the standard Hershey fare is available, but Hershey's also specializes in personalized chocolate cards for Valentine's Day. Customize a message to your sweetheart or the more generic, "I love you." Gifts range from $12.95 to $99.95, but there are plenty of sweet deals for less than $20.

For some, the best chocolate comes from overseas. For the ultimate in high-end chocolates, check www.zchocolate.com for handmade candies from the Provence region of France. The Valentine package, "Valentin," comes in a handcrafted mahogany box filled with lavender perfume and 42 chocolates. For $12.50, the box can be shipped in one to three days.

French chocolate is good, but Belgian chocolate is better. Continue the international chocolate search with handmade Belgian chocolate from Nirvana chocolates. The chocolate ships daily in traditional hearts or extremely indulgent large baskets. Prices range from $22.95 to $74.95.

National and even international brands may not suit everyone. Sometimes the best chocolate hails from that little shop around the corner. For regional specialties, check www.givechocolate.com. You'll find chocolates from small companies across the country, cookies from Santa Cruz and candies from Salem. The site features all things related to chocolate: recipes, books, even chocolate-dipped strawberries disguised as a bouquet of roses. At $60, that's one of the site's most attractive offers. Or, stay in your lover's thoughts by giving a year's worth of chocolate with a membership to the Chocolate of the Month Club. For $30, that special someone receives a gift card and new chocolate each month.

Sending chocolates to a habitual weight watcher may produce a less than glowing response. For the dieter in your relationship, opt for virtual chocolate from www.virtualchocolate.com. Send e-mail postcards with photos from a large selection of everyone's favorite chocolate candies and cakes. Granted, the reception may still be bitter if the photos prove a little too tempting. If so, the site also offers an extensive list of alternative sites that sell the real thing.

Mmmm, so much good chocolate. If you think that sounds redundant, forget your significant other and send yourself a box.

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