By Meisha Garvey
From as far back as 450BC in the time of the Mayans, chocolate has been recognised as a food of love. Not only consumed but revered, the Mayans drank a much more bitter form of chocolate than we're used to today, drinking it daily with dinner and in religious ceremonies. Chocolate was sacred and believed to possess strong aphrodisiac properties, so it's no surprise couples drank chocolate at their engagement and wedding ceremonies.
Although today's society doesn’t value chocolate as highly as the Mayans, chocolate's connection to love hasn't faded. Chocolate cake and desserts are common at weddings, and you can find boxes of chocolates lining the displays of shops and supermarkets alike as it draws closer to Valentine's Day. Boxed chocolate is the most popular gift to give on Valentine's Day, but we've thought of some ways to give the gift of chocolate in other forms, if you fancy treating your partner to something a little different this year.
1. In a Savoury Sauce
Chocolate doesn't have to be eaten in a sweet dessert, adding it to a savoury sauce or pot of chilli can add a rich, velvety quality. Our 70% Guatemalan bar has a super fruity profile that will not only add depth, but also an incredible punchy sharpness to your sauce.
2. In a Truffle
Gifting chocolate truffles on Valentine's Day is a given, but not many know they're quite easy to make at home. If you'd like to give a homemade gift from the heart, why not try chopping our Fine Milk up into a bowl, heating and mixing with double cream. We’re working on publishing a recipe to our site, but why not check the amazing Paul A Young in the meantime – he offers a variety of truffle recipes, but his classic truffle is a classic for a reason.
3. In a Hot Drink
Hot or cold, chocolate is delicious in its liquid form. We offer hot chocolates and mochas made from your chosen bar every day at the cafe, but if you want to make them at home our most popular bar for the Signature Drinking Chocolate is the 70% Haiti. The 70% Haiti has a smooth texture with a slight tart cherry/raspberry after taste and if you fancy a boozy twist, it goes well with sweet liqueurs like Irish Cream, Amaretto or Cherry.
If you’re after something a little sweeter, go for the Fine Milk, adding a shot of your favourite spirit and finishing with whipped cream. We recommend Cointreau for something a little different, chocolate and orange is always a winner!
4. In a Cocktail
Alternatively, if you're craving something cold we’ve got two perfect cocktails for you.
Some of you may know that we make our own Cocoa Nib Vodka. Espresso Martinis have become a firm favourite at our bar in Cutlery Works food hall, and if you’d love to make them at home it’s super easy. Simply add 100g of nibs to a 70cl bottle of Vodka and leave to infuse for 3 days – strain and you’re ready to add 1 shot nib Vodka, 1 shot Kahlua and 1 shot Espresso to your shaker, load with ice and do your thing!
For a more decadent experience, why not try our 70% Bolivia with this chocolate martini recipe from Olivia’s Cuisine. Unlike most chocolate flavoured cocktails this one uses chocolate and cream to make a ganache rather than a liqueur, giving it a creamier richer taste, which goes perfectly with our Bolivia bar’s deep chocolatey brownie notes.
5. For Dipping
Chocolate covered strawberries are a classic aphrodisiac, but why not go a step further and melt our 70% Bolivia or Fine Milk into a small pot or bowl to make fondue. Enjoy in front of Netflix with an array of fruit, brioche and biscuits for dipping. You could even add cream to the chocolate to be extra indulgent and make a ganache fondue.
If any of these tips peeked your interest, visit our store to treat your loved one this Valentine’s Day. Or if you feel like the above is a little too much like hard work, check out the Valentine’s Menu we’ll be serving at our Cutlery Works bar.