There’s a reason why chocolates are the ideal Valentine’s Day gift: one bite is enough to make anyone happy. And there’s scientific evidence to prove it. Researchers have found that eating chocolate causes the brain to release endorphins, which can boost one’s mood.
But not all chocolates are created equal, so instead of buying the usual, mass-produced bars that are out in the market, choose a high-quality brand that’s made with the finest ingredients. Here are five things to look for when choosing the best chocolate for your loved ones this Valentine’s Day.
1. It tastes, smells, and feels good. “A high-quality chocolate has a strong distinctive aroma and a complex flavor profile. Physically, it has a glossy sheen and a firm snap,” says Jamie A. Concepcion, business development unit manager of Malagos Chocolate, a proudly Filipino brand made in Davao.
“True chocolate is very high in antioxidants and flavonoids shown to reduce cholesterol levels and blood pressure. They’re actually very good for the heart, quite literally.”
Malagos makes their chocolate “from tree to bar.” This means that each stage of the process—from planting the trees to harvesting the cacao beans, post-harvest processing, grinding, and production into a chocolate bar—is done under their control. “This gives us the advantage to check the quality each step of the way,” explains Concepcion. “Ultimately, excellent quality is at our core.”
2. It’s made with love and passion. You know how they say food tastes better when it’s prepared with love? The same is true for this decadent dessert. Malagos Chocolate’s founder, Charita Puentespina, is passionate about her craft. “[The Philippines] is blessed to be located within the cacao belt yet we import quality chocolate from our western counterparts,” relates Concepcion. “Our matriarch’s strong sense of nationalism drove her to raise the bar for Philippine chocolate and make true fine-flavor, premium chocolate that Filipinos can be proud of.”
3. It gives back to the community. Chocolate is best enjoyed when shared with the ones you love; it’s even better when the business gives that love back to society. Being a proud farmer herself, Mama Charita (as she is fondly called) works closely with small farmers in Davao to promote sustainability in the community. Part of the Puentespina Farm is also a training facility for local farmers, where they learn good agricultural practices on cacao farming. When the object of your affection finds out that the chocolate you gave contributes to a good cause, you’re sure to get instant pogi (or ganda) points!
4. It’s award-winning. You know the chocolate is good when it’s been recognized by local and international award-giving bodies. Malagos Chocolate has received numerous awards. Most notably, Puentespina Farm has been recognized as one of the producers of the best 50 beans in the world at the 2017 Edition of the Cocoa Excellence Programme in France.
Just this year, the farm also received the Heirloom Cacao Designation from the Heirloom Cacao Preservation (HCP) Fund. Puentespina Farm is only the 16th to be given this honor, and the first in the Philippines. “All our claims are not for marketing gimmicks only. All our claims are backed up by verified certifications from legitimate recognized organizations,” adds Concepcion.
5. It suits your loved one’s taste. Once you’ve chosen a high-quality brand, make sure to consider your loved ones’ preferences. Do they like their chocolates with nuts, fruits, or caramel? Do they prefer the lighter or darker variants? Will they appreciate bite-sized pieces or giant bars? Choosing a variant that is well-suited to your partner’s taste shows how much care and effort you put into choosing your gift.
For added impact, go for a product that comes in pretty packaging. “Since red is the color of love, we would recommend our sets and products in red packaging,” says Concepcion. “We have the Malagos Sampler, which contains three each of our award-winning dark chocolate; our Malagos Drageé Collection in an elegant red can available in two variants (coffee or almond coated with our couverture dark chocolate); our Fruit Collection (local dried fruits enrobed with our couverture dark chocolate); and a Mini Bag with one each of our award-winning dark chocolates.”
This Valentine season, don’t settle for just about any gift you’ll find in malls. Choose something that’s made locally and of the highest quality (and award-winning to boot!). Shop for Malagos Chocolates at https://malagoschocolate.com or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more details.
*All photos courtesy of Malagos Chocolates
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