I walked into my local grocery store the other day and I saw red. This didn’t equate to anger, like the saying from back in the day, nope it’s almost Valentines’ Day. Shelf, after shelf was loaded with red, cellophane wrapped heart-shaped boxes filled with mediocre chocolates.
Being an unconventional girl, I’d rather be given love tokens of a different ilk. While I’m on the bandwagon, I’m not big on going out for a bite to eat, either. It is way too busy with people crammed into my favorite spots with no time to really enjoy the meal.
My dreamy, romantic Valentine’s Day would look a little different. It would include flowers; bouquets of off-beat blooms, a pot of herbs or a load of dirt to plant with flowers. Coffee sipped outside on the stoop, bundled up since it is still winter. A long walk through one of our parks or grabbing a drink at a dive bar while holding my Valentine’s hand. Dinner at home; of course we’d cook together and maybe sit on the floor by the fire to eat. You see, my celebration has elements of the traditional, but suited to me and my love.
a given: there would have to be chocolate.
A few weeks ago we went to a lovely restaurant that served sipping chocolate. And, I must say, oh my goodness in a demitasse cup.
Said restaurant offered a flight, yes a flight of sipping chocolate. Each delicate, delicious offering had a reworking. One was simple unadulterated chocolate; another was laced with chile and spice. The mint mélange speaks for itself and the Italian sipper was full of espresso. I’m telling you, the tailoring of a cup is only limited by imagination and taste preferences.
Sipping chocolate is not like hot cocoa that is sipped by the bonfire. No, my friend, sipping or drinking chocolate is made by slowly melting shaved or finely chipped chocolate with cream or milk. It is thicker, richer and less sweet than cocoa which is a mixture of powdered cocoa, sugar and milk. Don’t get me wrong, I love hot cocoa, especially splashed with Peppermint Schnapps or Kahlua, but drinking chocolate is pure bliss in a tiny cup.
To indulge in your own decadent cups, choose a good quality dark chocolate with at least 60% to 85% cocoa. Finely chop the bar of chocolate. Mix one part chopped chocolate with one to one and one half parts whole milk; heat over low heat whisking to dissolve the chocolate. At this point you can add a touch of vanilla, a pinch of cinnamon or orange zest; ginger, black pepper or cayenne will sure light your chocolate passion fire.
Me? I’m hoping for flowers to plant in dirt, dinner by the fire and sweet cups of drinking chocolate, most likely sprinkled with cardamom, my current spice of choice.
Happy hearts and flowers –