What's chocolate looking like as we enter Valentine's Day 2013? Imagine nut-butter fillings, tea-infused ganaches, and bean-to-bar chocolates — to name a few delicious decadences. Get ready to feast your eyes on the most captivating bars, bonbons, and truffles. What are you waiting for? It's time to treat yourself to eight chocolate trends!
Brown rice and quinoa, whether toasted or puffed, has made its way into chocolate bars — giving chocolates a toasted flavor and a Nestlé Crunch-like consistency. One of our favorites? Alter Eco Dark Quinoa  ($4) is 60 percent dark chocolate and studded with fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth quinoa puffs.
When Vosges  released its bacon and chocolate bar a few years back, it shocked and offended vegetarians and serious confectioners alike. Yet finally, the world has embraced the amazing smoky/sweet combination, as many (if not most!) chocolatiers have created their own versions of something with chocolate and bacon. Vosges has since expanded its bacon and chocolate collection  to include pancakes, truffles, and a chocolate pig, and chocolatiers like Oregon's Xocolatl de David are offering variations like chicharrón-studded bars .
Chocolatiers travel the world searching for interesting spices to add to their chocolates, and we're seeing some head-turning combinations. Bouton Chocolat  is serving up morsels like tart cherry star anise and fig pistachio fennel seeds ($10 per 10-piece box).
New York City's Mast Brothers  and Dandelion Chocolate  in San Francisco are just a few artisanal bean-to-bar chocolate makers attracting the attention of dark-chocolate lovers, pastry chefs, and chocolatiers everywhere. The beans come from family farmers around the world and are roasted, tempered, and packaged in small batches so the nuanced flavors of each bean varietal can really shine.
Confections in Truffle Form
Cakes and cookies are making their way into truffle form. Godiva's collection includes birthday cake  with vanilla cake mousse in a white chocolate shell, pineapple hummingbird cake  with pineapple and banana ganache and pecan cream cheese frosting, and cookie dough  with cookie dough ganache in a milk chocolate shell.
Unusual Dipped Fruit
Beyond berries and citrus fruits, chocolate makers are expanding traditional pairings to dip chocolate in exotic fruit, like Jade Chocolates Spicy Green Mango Tiles  ($6). We're also loving chocolate-dipped, paper-thin slices of Recchiuti Key Lime Pears  ($23).
Tea-Infused Ganache and Caramel
Lately, chocolatiers have been expanding their tea knowledge and infusing the flavors in ganache and caramel. Case in point: Xocolatl de David  makes chocolates with rose hips, Kashmiri chai, hojicha (a roasted Japanese tea), and lapsang souchong (a smoked black tea).
We'll always have an affinity for chocolate and peanut butter, but as other nut butters like almond, walnut, and cashew  become more popular, they are also marrying in chocolate form. Similar to a Snickers bar, Justin's Milk Chocolate Almond Candy Bar  ($20 for 12 bars) is a chocolate-covered treat, with layers of caramel, nougat, almonds, and almond butter. Pick up a jar of chocolate walnut butter , or try making your own chocolate almond spread .