Is it too early to start thinking about holiday gift giving? Not really.... And for the serious chocolate lover on your list, chocolates from France-based Z Chocolat are kind of spectacular.
The Aix en Provence chocolate company specializes in sending chocolates all over the world, and their chocolates are created by world champion chocolatier Pascal Caffet. Caffet, who also has his own eponymous shops, is renowned as a Meiulleur Ouvrier de France (an award given to French artisans) for his chocolate and patisserie making. The chocolate for producing the confections was sourced by Olivier de Loisy of La Chocolaterie de L'Opéra, whose family formerly owned Valrhona and who travels to chocolate-producing plantations, specializing in finding the best cocoa beans. These are chocolates with bona fides.
Even the packaging is going to impress: personalized black boxes, red holiday boxes, basswood boxes or latched mahogany boxes that come with metal name plates -- just so everyone knows exactly whom these chocolates are for (as in hands off ... ).
Inside the boxes are specially designed interior ballotins, made specifically with the logistics of shipping chocolates in mind, so that nothing arrives jostled or flipped. Each angled rectangle of chocolate (exactly .98 by .59 by .9 inch) fits perfectly into trays inside the ballotins. And every box comes in an ecru Italian cotton or black wool pouch with a booklet that describes each chocolate.
Each chocolate is numbered, to indicate each of the 26 flavors of chocolates. No. 1, for example, is a two-layer dark chocolate of salty Bourbon-Madagascar vanilla caramel and Piedmont hazelnut praline. No. 5 is a Venezuelan dark chocolate with Venezuelan dark chocolate ganache. No. 11 is raspberry puree and dark chocolate ganache in a milk chocolate couverture. And so on.
The chocolate gift boxes range in price from $32.99 (8 pieces) to $110 (60 pieces) for the red holiday boxes and $71.50 (4 pieces) to $385.04 (228 pieces) for the mahogany boxes. Shipping via DHL is a flat fee of $19.35 to any address in the U.S.
And, for the gift that keeps giving, they're refillable.