Seductive sweets

Chocolate—a classic way to someone’s heart on Valentine’s day

Student-Friendly Easy Oreo Truffles (above), are one of many recipes to make for a get together or as a Valentine’s Day gift.
Student-Friendly Easy Oreo Truffles (above), are one of many recipes to make for a get together or as a Valentine’s Day gift.
Photo: 
Best Chocolate Pudding (pictured above) serves up to six servings and is featured on popular food blog Smitten Kitchen.
Best Chocolate Pudding (pictured above) serves up to six servings and is featured on popular food blog Smitten Kitchen.
Photo: 

I did my grade six science project on chocolate. While I’m not sure how this qualified as a second-place winning scientific endeavor, I do know that exact moment began my love affair with chocolate.

Since then, I’ve been called a chocolate snob, fiend, connoisseur and a self-described chocoholic. It’s a surprise that my addiction hasn’t made me obese, but I do sleep better at night knowing that my addiction isn’t uncommon, especially around this time of year.

Valentine’s Day is the busiest single day of the year for chocolate sales in North America. Deborah Johnston, Manager of Kingston’s Laura Secord said sales typically go up by 300 per cent on Valentine’s Day and around 500 to 600 customers will come into the store every year on this one day.

“Traditionally, flowers and chocolate have always been associated with expressing love,” Johnston said.

Until the late 18th century, chocolate remained a good only the elite could afford, equating chocolate with luxury for the upper class. Although most types of chocolate are easily affordable in North America now, chocolate is still said to be an aphrodisiac, which may explain why it has become so synonymous with romance and Valentine’s Day.

Johnston said that males dominate the sales around Valentine’s Day and they’re particularly fond of the store’s truffles and heart boxes, she said, which they believe truly are a way to a woman’s heart.

Rachel Allison, Sci ’11, is the President of Queen’s International Food Appreciation Team (IFAT), a cooking club on campus. While she told me that she rarely eats chocolate just for the sake of it, she does like to bake with it.

“It’s very versatile for confectionary. It’s easier to manipulate in baking than something like sugar, for example,” she said.

In the past, she has received chocolate for Valentine’s Day, she said, but she’s usually disappointed because the gift-givers aren’t aware of the quality of the chocolate before purchasing.

“I only consider dark chocolate to be actual chocolate … you can tell the difference between the less expensive ones, which use sugar to hide flaws, and the more expensive varieties,” she said.

Allison, a frequent reader of one of my favourite food blogs, Smitten Kitchen, shared her favorite pudding recipe with me, which she describes as simply “to die for.” I would call it a simple end to a romantic meal, or gluttony for one in my case.

Best Chocolate Pudding

Ingredients

¼ cup (227 ml) cornstarch
½ cup (125 ml) sugar (I’d add a little less if you’re using cheaper chocolate)
1/8 tsp (0.5 ml) salt
3 cups (682 ml) whole milk 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (or about half a regular sized bag)
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract

Directions
In a heatproof bowl (pyrex is best), mix together the first three ingredients. Fill a medium sized pot half way with water and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and being it to a gentle simmer.

Slowly add the milk into the bowl of dry ingredients, and stir until everything is incorporated. Place the bowl on top of the pot with simmering water and leave the bowl alone for a little bit.

Every few minutes, stir the mixture with a heatproof spatula. Once lumps start to form, gently whisk the mixture to get rid of the lumps. After 15 to 20 minutes, the mixture should begin to thicken. When it can coat the back of a spoon, add in the chocolate chips and stir to melt them.

Allow the pudding to thicken for two more minutes and remove from the heat. Stir in the vanilla extract.

Pour the pudding through a strainer to remove any lumps and cover the bowl of pudding tightly with plastic wrap resting on top of the pudding (this will prevent a skin from forming.) Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes, then serve and enjoy!

Smittenkitchen.com

Student-Friendly Oreo Truffles

Truffles, one of Valentine’s Day’s best-selling items, are not overly complicated to make, but they do require a solid chunk of an afternoon. However, there are still shortcuts to creating truffles, which make an ideal gift for romantic partners, housemates and bosses alike.

Ingredients

1 regular sized package Oreos
1 regular package (226 g) Cream cheese, softened 2 packages (225 g each) of Baker’s Semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted

Directions

Crush nine Oreos in a reusable plastic bag with a rolling pin (or beer bottle) until finely ground. Set aside. Crush the remaining Oreos in the same way.

Add the larger amount of crushed Oreos to a bowl and stir in the cream cheese. Mix until completely combined.

Line a baking sheet with parchment/wax paper or aluminum foil. Using your hands, roll the Oreo/cream cheese mixture into small balls one inch in diameter.

Dip each truffle into the melted chocolate and sprinkle the crumbled Oreos that have been set aside, on top of each truffle.

Refrigerate for an hour and enjoy! (These must be stored in the fridge due to the cream cheese.)

Allrecipes.com

Fail-Proof Chocolate Fondue

If you’re looking for an easy way to entertain or class-up your weekend, look no further than this ridiculously simple, but super tasty fondue recipe that I concocted. It can be scaled down for one or up for a crowd, and you don’t need fancy fondue equipment—just a pot on the stove and some skewers or forks will do.

Ingredients

Semi-sweet chocolate chips (a couple handfuls works)
Cream (I use 5% to cut down on fat, but you can use higher percentages for a richer taste)
Washed, sliced fruit (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, etc.)
Mini marshmallows

Directions

In a pot over medium low heat add the chocolate chips. Pour in a couple dribbles (or 1 tbsp) of cream and stir the mixture around until everything comes together and the chocolate melts fully.

Place the pot on a heating pad if you have one. (If not you can just return the mixture to a gentle heat when the chocolate starts to harden). Serve with the fruit and marshmallows, give everyone a skewer and dip away!

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