Complete Chocolate Lover’s Guide for the San Francisco Bay Area

How to eat a box of chocolates


We solve this happy problem for you

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box of chocolates

If you are the lucky recipient of a box of artisan chocolates, or even just a good box of preservative-free chocolates (like See’s), you might think you have to eat them all ASAP before they go bad. But that would be a shame if it means overindulging/binging so you miss the opportunity to savor what a lovely gift you have. Plus then you’re suddenly left with an empty box and a guilty sick feeling.

So slow down and attack that box with a plan aimed at maximizing the pleasure while minimizing spoilage and nausea. Here’s CBTB to the rescue with a strategy for solving this happy problem.

The set-up

Of course you should store your artisan chocolates somewhere away from heat and direct sunlight.

And don’t put the box in the fridge thinking that will save it. It’s generally recommended that you not refrigerate chocolates because that can cause bloom or changes to flavors (you do not want your lovely handmade chocolate picking up  flavors from leftovers in the fridge). So find a cool, dark place — I put mine in a cooler in the basement.

Donnelly Chocolates#1. Read the menu/key/guide provided.

Forget the Forrest Gump quote about never knowing what’s in a box of chocolates. Most artisan chocolatiers include some sort of list of their chocolates, usually with images so you can decipher what’s in the box without putting your thumb through the bottom of each one. If you’re really lucky, the guide is actually a menu describing what’s in each piece.

This way you can tell, based on our strategy, which pieces to eat in what order. You can also remove any chocolates you might be allergic to or know you won’t like. These are also known as the “share” chocolates. There’s probably somebody in your life who would love your artisan chocolate cast-offs.

Tip: If the guide is skimpy, check the chocolatier’s website for more info on what’s in each piece.

#2. Eat the piece you are most interested in first.

Do not save the best for last. The chocolates will never be fresher than when you first open the box, so it makes sense to eat the flavor you love or are most intrigued by first. This is the one piece you don’t want to miss.

Tip: No judgement, no guilt here. Start strategizing after eating that first piece.

Vice Chocolates Box

#3. Eat any ganache-only pieces next.

Truffles without shells, sometimes called pavés, have the shortest shelf life of any chocolates. Made of just chocolate, heavy cream and sugar, with maybe some flavoring like vanilla or a liqueur, then dusted with cocoa powder or confectioners’ sugar, they have no protection from the elements.

Tip: These pieces can be stored in the fridge, carefully sealed, to lengthen their shelf life. Some people even like them frozen.

The full set of Woodhouse Chocolates.

#4. Eat chocolates filled with white chocolate ganache next.

White chocolate ganache has the shortest shelf life of the 3 ganache types. I’d start with any fruit-flavored white chocolate ganache pieces at this stage because fruit flavors can fade quickly.

#5. Move on to fruit-flavored ganaches.

After finishing off all the white chocolate ganache fillings, any fruit-flavored milk or dark chocolate ganaches are fair game.

Tip: If the ganache contains dried fruit or alcohol-soaked fruit, like brandied cherries, they can wait. (See step #9.)

#6. Nut & seed butters/ganaches are next.

As opposed to chocolate-covered nuts which can wait until the end of the box, any chocolates that contain ground or finely chopped nuts or seeds will fade and should be eaten before more strongly flavored chocolates.

Sucre assortment

#7. Try any teas, florals & herbs.

Strong teas, florals and herbs (like rosemary or mint) can be saved for after you’ve eaten all the lighter-flavored chocolates.

Tip: Lighter teas and fresh herbs can be more delicate than fruit flavors, so you might want to eat those before the fruit-flavored ganaches.

#8. Time for spices and savories.

A notch stronger than herbs are spices, so now’s the time to eat your spicy chocolates like cinnamon, chai or hot pepper. This is also the time I’d eat savory chocolates like bacon.

Timothy Adams box of chocolates

#9. Save liqueur & preserves for late-in-the-box enjoyment.

Toward the end of the box is when you should turn your attention to any chocolates made with ingredients that have some shelf life of their own, such as chocolate-covered dried fruits and nuts, or chocolates filled with jams, jellies (like pâte de fruits), or alcohol-soaked fruit. Also liqueur-filled chocolates will still be delicious when other chocolates are just a memory.

#10. Save the salted caramels for last.

Save any chocolate-covered caramels in the box for last since caramel is a hardier beast than ganache.

QPC chocolates

I hope this little walk through a chocolate box comes in handy the next time you have the happy problem of a beautiful box of chocolates to attack.

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Published April 15, 2015