Getting best bang for your bite when buying Valentine's Day chocolates

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Valentine's Day is Sunday, and if you're buying chocolate, expect to pay more for it.

Nearly 70 percent of Americans prefer receiving chocolate over flowers for the holiday, but with a chocolate shortage this year, you'll want to make sure you know exactly what you're buying.

And we will be shelling out more than ever before to buy chocolate. The price went up 40 percent in just the last last two years.

So we put together a chocolate checklist so you get the best bang for your buck and your bite.

At Mindy's Munchies in Rivervale, New Jersey, it's crunchtime. To fill all the orders for Valentine's Day best-seller - chocolate.

We are projected to spend $764 Million on chocolate this Valentine's Day according to the National Confectioners Association.

So with so much at stake it pays to shop around. Only some chocolate isn't this simple anymore. Bar wrappers have numbers, terms, wild ingredients and prices. One box of "real gold" encrusted chocolate pieced at a cool $14,000 for 6 precious pieces.

So we came to the chocolate lab at the Institute of Culinary Education in Lower Manhattan for answers.

Former executive chef at Le Bernadin but current creative director at ICE, Michael Laiskonis says you get what you pay for. He runs the bean to bar lab like a scientist.

He says percentages of cocoa you see on the packaging isn't about quality, but quantity.

He says "it's a mark of quantity how much of the chocolate bar is from a cocoa bean."

80 percent of this dark chocolate bar is purely from the bean or it's butter. The rest, Michael says, is sugar. Really simply - the less the sur

The less sugar the more chocolate flavor.

What's the one thing you would never want to see on an ingredient list? Michael says he wouldn't want to see any fats that aren't from a cocoa bean, like palm oil.

And to make sure all that doesn't go to waste, don't store chocolate in the refrigerator. It absorbs odors from other food, and gets all discolored. Instead, put your investment in a cool dry dark place, instead!
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