Recipients of Valentine's Day chocolate assortments usually spend a great deal of time trying to deduce the filling of every treat in the box. But scientists say chocolate lovers this week should pay equal attention to the shapes of confections, since their geometry determines the speed and order of flavor molecule release.

In short, according to a Nestle Research Center study published last fall in a food science and technology journal, round chocolates tend to taste better. Because curved chocolates melt in the mouth more quickly than linear chocolates, they're perceived as smoother and richer. "The cocoa solids in the chocolate would get to the taste buds quicker," chef Simon Rimmer told the BBC. "You may get an oily hit from it."

British chocolate lovers took a particular interest in the relationship between shape and flavor after Cadbury last year rejiggered its iconic Dairy Milk bar.

In Charleston, French-born chocolatier Chistophe Paume of downtown's Christophe Artisan Chocolatier-Patissier declined to speak to The Post and Courier, citing a potential language barrier. But his partner, Carly Paume, confirms flavor is an important consideration when he chooses how to shape his chocolates.

Reach Hanna Raskin at 937-5560.