If you're looking for an imaginative gift, you can't go wrong with gourmet food. Food gifts are up 70% since 2004, according to industry experts. As part of this trend, high-end chocolates are skyrocketing in popularity--projected to represent 25% of all U.S. chocolate sales by 2011.

Among the most popular ingredients: dark chocolate. Due, in part, to evidence of its health benefits, dark chocolate is showing up in more forms in gift boxes and at fabulous fêtes.

To meet growing demand, U.S. chocolate makers have begun offering more premium—e.g., dark, organic, single source, and artisanal chocolates. They're also experimenting with exotic flavors--combining chocolate with green tea, red wine, ginseng, curry, and hot peppers, among others.

Vosges Haut-Chocolat, based in Chicago, is one company that's selling exotic flavor combinations that could be interesting additions—or alternatives—to more traditional Valentine's Day or any-occasion gifts. These chocolates also can extend fancy dessert offerings at your next soirée.

The company's collection includes the "black pearl," a combination of ginger wasabi, black sesame seeds, and dark chocolate; the "Naga," a combination of sweet Indian curry, coconut, and deep milk chocolate, the "Macha," a combination of Japanese macha green tea and deep milk chocolate; and several others.

Here are two of Vosges Haut-Chocolat's many special-occasion chocolate gifts that offer an intriguing sample of trendy and exotic international flavors

Aphrodisiac Mini Bar Box
Aphrodisiac Mini Bar Box
$25 at Vosges Haut-Chocolat's
Exotic Truffle Collection
Exotic truffle collection heart box
$43 at Vosges Haut-Chocolat's

Suchard Dark Chocolate Rocher Gift Box
$16.95 at Amazon.com

8 Pieces of dark chocolate, stuffed with hazelnut pralin and topped with crushed hazelnuts.

Pralus' Pyramide des Tropiques: 10 Dark Chocolates from Around the World
$44.95 at Amazon.com

Includes ten dark chocolate bars from Pralus Chocolates, one of France's greatest chocolate makers. Included are bars from: "Jamaïque, Indonésie, São Tomé, Trinidad, Venezuela, Vanuatu, Ghana, Madagascar, Colombie, & Equateur."

Image credit: 27-piece Dark Chocolate Gift Box from Godiva

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