What is it about the lure of chocolate? Is it the way it touches the lips, rolling softly over the tongue melting into a rich ripple of flavor? Or perhaps it’s that theobroma cacao translates to “food of the Gods” in Latin. Chocolate has seduced many over the ages since it’s discovery in the Amazon 2000 BC. The Aztec emperor Moctezuma considered chocolate to be highly prized and as valuable as gold. He also believed it to be an aphrodisiac and drank large quantities of it before romantic trysts by roasting cacao beans and combining them with cornmeal, vanilla, honey and chilies to enhance its effect.
The Spanish conquest of the Aztecs took chocolate overseas where Europeans learned of it’s seductive qualities and mythology. In 1657 the first chocolate house opened in London. These became all the rage, competing with coffee houses and like their rivals provided meeting places for those wishing to social climb, conduct business, and indulge in hot topics. In France Louis XV drank it daily, even making it himself in his apartments. Madame de Pompadour both drank it and wrote about the popularity of it in the court of Versailles. She recommended it for heating up cold temperaments to satisfy the King in which a drink is made with chocolate, triple essence of vanilla, and scented with ambergris, followed by truffles and celery soup to make one heated for lovemaking. Madame du Barry, taking note from Madame de Pompadour was said to mix amber into the chocolate for it’s aphrodisiac properties.
Louis XV’s recipe:
“Place an equal number of bars of chocolate and cups of water in a cafetiere and boil on a low heat for a short while; when you are ready to serve, add one egg yolk for four cups and stir over a low heat without allowing to boil. It is better if prepared a day in advance. Those who drink it every day should leave a small amount as flavouring for those who prepare it the next day. Instead of an egg yolk one can add a beaten egg white after having removed the top layer of froth. Mix in a small amount of chocolate from the cafetiere then add to the cafetiere and finish as with the egg yolk.”
Source: Dinners of the Court or the Art of working with all sorts of foods for serving the best tables following the four seasons, by Menon, 1755 (BnF, V.26995, volume IV, p.331)
The marriage of Marie Antoinette to Louis XVI in 1770, brought more chocolate recipes for various health conditions through her personal chocolate maker including chocolate infused with orange blossoms to calm the nerves, chocolate and sweet almond milk for digestive issues, and chocolate with orchid bulbs for strength.
The strangest recipe recorded was from the Marquis de Sade’s “chocolate cantharnidine”, a toxic blend of beetles, cacao, and aniseed, presented in a crystal box. While he was only trying to play with aphrodisiacs it was not a pleasant evening for those who indulged.
While chocolate remained popular with the elite through the years it wasn’t until Victoria became Queen in 1837 that Valentine’s day and later Valentine’s chocolate would become a commercial success. While new technologies allowed Victorians to gift their significant others with printed cards, chocolate was about to transform as well. Ray Cadbury was looking for a way to expand his family’s recipe for drinking chocolate. His idea was to make small bite size chocolates. Cadbury designed the boxes for these and in 1861 created a line in heart shaped boxes with cupids and roses. Those who purchased them not only enjoyed the sweets inside but also could keep the decorated boxes for letters and other keepsakes. Hershey’s jumped on the bandwagon late 1800s with caramel topped chocolates and Hershey kisses. Clara and Russell Stover begin making candy in the kitchen of their Denver bungalow home. It was first known as Mrs. Stover's Bungalow Candies focused on local stores then created an ice cream parlor in Kansas. They shifted their focus after changing their name to Russell Stover to department stores and filled heart shaped boxes with treats that we associate with Valentine’s Day now. Whitman’s started in 1842 as competition to the French candy makers in Philadelphia. They offered chocolate covered sugar plums in illustrated tins. They eventually became known for their samplers in the trademarked original box. In 1939 they launched the incredibly popular "A Woman Never Forgets the Man Who Remembers." campaign. It remained popular for two decades. Whitman’s was eventually bought out their competitor Russell Stover.
Chocolate is sensual. Who can forget Jean Harlow lounging in sequins nibbling chocolates from her bed in Dinner At Eight or how Juliette Binoche plays a single mother in Chocolat who moves to a repressed rural French town during Lent changing the lives of the townspeople through the art of chocolatiering and a bit of intuition. Chocolate is good for our bodies as well. The cocoa bean is rich in magnesium, creating a feeling of relaxation and receptiveness to amorous interactions. Copper helps form the collagen and elastin, that give your skin strength and suppleness. Iron brings oxygen to all cells and stores oxygen in muscles so when you have an increase in activity level there is extra for those rendezvous. It also regulates the immune system to help fight infections. Zinc in chocolate helps to maintain taste and smell and phenethylamine boosts endorphins and increases brain levels of the feel-good chemical serotonin, which enhance any romantic situation whether alone or with a partner.
I like creating rituals and art out of every situation. When designing the menu for this piece I wanted to create a series of fun sexy images to go with it. I encourage you to do the same whether it’s with photos or writing some love poems, draw hearts with Cray-Pas, even dancing to music will change the frequency you’re in and allow for some new energy to flow through. With my love of candy, Valentine’s, and dressing up I played with polaroids and camera glitches to create the images you see here. Since this is a three part series of blogs I suggest taking the 13-15th to love yourself completely. Of course you don’t have to do those exact three days, any day or weekend will do. Make yourself for you and your partner a nice dinner and dessert, do creative things, get sexy, and use the love spell in the upcoming blog to boost your self love and confidence.
Now onto dessert. Chocolate covered strawberries have become a staple of seduction and charm. Strawberries, heart shaped in design, make the perfect edible valentine treat. Rich in antioxidants to help you look and feel your best they are also filled with vitamin C which promotes blood flow and for women helps to produce estrogen. The also contain magnesium, which plays an important role in both nervous and endocrine functions allowing for sexual fulfillment. Magnesium also combats anxiety and prevents depressive feelings, allowing for you to relax and enjoy yourself more. Potassium not only regulates the heart but also the way muscles contract and folate regulates the production of histamine which is released during an orgasm.
Strawberries have been served at weddings to induce fertility in Europe, and associated with Venus since Ancient Rome. Covered in chocolate they are a dream. They are also extremely easy to make. I used Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Melting Wafers and melted them in a pot with a metal bowl in it. I then dipped the strawberries in and sprinkled them with hazelnuts and pecans. Hazelnuts are known for wishing spells, for when you eat them it is said that the spirits are listening. They were also given as gifts to new brides for luck and fertility. It has also been linked to wisdom, protection, communication, poetic inspiration, and reconciliation. Pecans have been linked to prosperity and increases in money. And who wouldn’t want a little of that mixed in with their charm and seduction magic? Make any meal a spell by adding intentions into it or creating your own spell or poetry to whisper into the ingredients while making it.
3 tbsp cocoa powder
3/4 cup water
3 cups milk
3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate
3 tbsp sugar ( I like Piloncillo but you can use granulated if you prefer.)
Cinnamon stick (or 1/2 tsp cinnamon)
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (I usually use 1/4 of a vanilla bean)
Whip cream for the top (I made my own using whipping cream and a little sugar.)
You can add a little bit of half and half for creamier chocolate as well.
*Again these are just estimates. I usually add spices until I have the taste I want. Feel free to do the same.
Bring ¾ cup water to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add 3 Tbsp. cocoa powder and whisk until smooth. Add milk and return to a simmer. Whisk in chocolate, sugar, and the rest of the ingredients whisking frequently, until mixture is a creamy consistency and chocolate is melted. Add half and half if desired and whip cream. Shave chocolate onto the top.
Flourless Chocolate Cake:
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar or sugar in the raw
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs slightly beaten
1/2 cup cocoa powder
Preheat oven to 375°F
Grease, butter, or spray either an 8 inch round baking pan lined with parchment to fit pan. If using cupcake tin grease or spray tin. Set aside.
In a metal bowl above a pan or double boiler melt chocolate with butter, stirring, until smooth. The water should be simmering. Remove the bowl or top part of the boiler from heat and mix sugar into chocolate mixture. Add eggs, mixing well then sift in the 1/2 cup cocoa powder mixing until combined. Pour batter into pan or muffin tin and bake in middle of oven 25 minutes if in pan and about 12 -15 mins if in tin. The top should form a thin crust. Cool the cake for approx 5 mins and place on plate. Dust with powdered sugar or cocoa powder. You can also serve this with raspberry sorbet.
*Cake keeps for one week in fridge.
I didn’t make the chocolate gelato with raspberries, chocolate, hazelnuts, honey, and fig pictured here but it does make for a wonderful desert. Topped with raspberries whose shape and texture alone make it one of the most erotic fruits, raspberries contain proanthocyanidins, which increases blood flow, vital for sexual arousal. With a high zinc content, they are key to stimulating the libido. Honey is rich in B vitamins, which not only helps testosterone production increasing desire, but also estrogen production, for the female libido.
Pair this with hazelnut coffee and you have a delectable and sexy dessert to celebrate the day of amore. Enjoy dessert and stay tuned for the next and last part of the series, Love Magic.