Semi-sweet, bitter or completely dark, there’s no denying that chocolate is something so powerful that it can that can kill your diet or save your relationship. Whichever kind strikes your fancy, there are plenty of places to find it in Orange County — and like tiny jewels nestled in gilt boxes, opening each and every one is like finding a treasure. Try any of these top 5 chocolate shops and your sweet tooth will thank you (though your personal trainer might not).
1 Godiva Chocolatier
Like the little blue box is to jewelry, Godiva's unmistakable gold box lets everyone know that what's inside is truly special. You might think it's a cop out to stop by this mall mainstay, but there's a reason the South Coast Plaza location is one of the best -- from marble and gold environs to hand-dipped specialties, the chocolate at Godiva is world-renowned for its richness and flavor. Go for the gold standard.
2 See's Candies
This "happy habit," might seem like something small, but ask any SoCal expat what they miss most about the area and you'd be surprised how many say they miss the quaint checker-floored candy store they visited as a child. Bring a box of these to any family or friend who's moved away and you'll be the best friend they've got.
3 Teuscher of Switzerland
Using only the world's finest ingredients and flying their confections in daily from Switzerland, some consider Teuscher to be the world's best. Try it for yourself and see if their truffles, bars and drinks (they've got drinking chocolate that'll have you coming back for seconds and thirds) are the perfect gift for your Valentine.
4 Valentino Chocolate
Hailing from Belgium, Valentino Chocolatier has some of the most varied selection of chocolate you can find. Introducing new flavors monthly since the '70s, there's no doubt that the inventive combinations (they only use the finest mix of cocoa from Ecuador, Togo and other exotic locales) will only be found at their sweet shop in Tustin.
5 Cocoa Lounge at the Island Hotel
Though not technically a store, the Cocoa Lounge at the Island Hotel is a seasonal standby where you'll be able to sample Pastry Chef Michael Owens's banana chocolate mousse cake, white chocolate strawberry shortcake, manjari obsession in chocolate cups, plus lollipops, peanut caramels, port chocolates and the list keeps going and going. Stop by Feb. 4 - 26 and sate your every craving.