Chocolates, confessions, kisses, and plenty of tears: I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen a Valentine’s Day episode in anime… It sometimes feels like if it’s set in a school, then there must inevitably be an episode about that day of love, February 14…
In Japan, it is customary for only women to give chocolates to men. Giving chocolates does not necessarily have to have romantic connotations attached, and the typical Western traditions of gift giving, dinner dates, flowers, and Valentine’s Day cards are not generally practiced. Instead, giving chocolate is serious business (if anime has taught me anything), and there are several “classes” that the giving of chocolates can fall under:
Obligation chocolate (giri-choko): since many women can feel obliged or pressured to give chocolates to those who are neither friends nor loved ones, particularly with regards to male co-workers, obligation chocolate is given instead. It’s generally of a lower quality than the other chocolate types.
Friend chocolate (tomo-choko): exchanged amongst friends, particularly between girls.
But, whoever you decide to give your chocolates to and regardless of what “class” they fall into, I’m sure your recipient (and you!) will enjoy today’s recipe for simple Valentine’s Day chocolates!
About the recipe:
This recipe is all about customization: I can provide you with a basic chocolate recipe, but it’s up to you to decorate, flavour, and package your creations, tailoring it to your tastes! For moulds, you can use anything from small paper/foil liners and silicone moulds (a heart shaped ice cube tray works wonderfully) to pre-made mini tart shells! I really like the foil liners since they’re so easy to deal with, they wrap the chocolates in a nice pop of colour, and they protect the chocolates from being bumped or damaged.
You can add chopped nuts (toast them first for maximum flavour), candies, or even a splash of rum or another liqueur (such as cointreau, amaretto, or kahlua) to spice things up… Decorate the tops with nuts, candies, or a chocolate design! It’s really up to you. I provide a few suggestions in the recipe, but feel free to experiment!
If your chocolate becomes too hard to pour as you work, simply warm it in the microwave for about 5 – 10 seconds. Whisk together until glossy and smooth, and then continue making your chocolates.
About the ingredients:
Bittersweet chocolate (~60% cocoa) is my chocolate of choice when it comes to this recipe… It makes a lovely dark chocolate that is not too sweet, but just sweet enough. Of course, if you don’t like dark chocolate, feel free to choose something a bit lighter! However, I don’t suggest going any darker than bittersweet, since there’s no sugar added in this recipe and the sweetness will come entirely from the sweetness of the chocolate you choose. Select a nice bar, since the quality of your homemade chocolates will depend on the quality of the chocolate you buy.
Simple Valentine’s Day Chocolates
Makes ~12 – 15 small chocolates
For the chocolate:
- 4 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
Toppings, flavourings, and fillings (optional):
- Fruits: candied orange peel, candied ginger, orange zest, etc.
- Liqueurs: rum, cointreau, kahlua, amaretto etc. (~ 2 tsp, to taste)
- Toasted nuts: almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, etc.
- Candies: rock candies, dragee, sprinkles, etc.
1. Place chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Set aside.
Place heavy cream in a small saucepan and set over medium heat. Scald the cream (small bubbles will appear along the sides of the pan, and the cream will heat without boiling).
2. Remove scaled cream from heat and pour over the chopped chocolate. Mix together until smooth and glossy using a wire whisk.
If desired, whisk in any zests, liquid flavourings, or chopped nuts at this point. Taste the chocolate and adjust the flavourings as needed.
3. Pour chocolate into moulds. Decorate tops with nuts, or candies. Set aside in a cool area or in the refrigerator, undisturbed, for 6 – 8 hours, or until completely solid. Carefully remove solidified chocolate from the mould (if using a silicone mould).
Serve as is, or packaged in decorative boxes or bags, and presented to your sweet Valentine.