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Valentine's Gifts for the Chocolate Lover
There is something about the bitter-sweet texture of chocolate that is incredibly sensual. Giving chocolates as a gift is sometimes seen as a last resort but for the chocoholic there is nothing more desirable (except your partner of course!). Chocolate seduces the senses - taste, texture, smell and of course can be beautifully wrapped and decorated appealing to the eye.
Science has discovered that the brains of people who love chocolate react differently to those who can take it or leave it. In one study, when shown pictures of chocolate, the pleasure areas of the chocolate lover's brain lit up. Other areas of the brain associated with habits and
addictions were also triggered.
The discovery of chocolate goes way back to the Mayans and Aztecs who drank a bitter spicy drink made from cocoa beans, vanilla and chilli. The Aztecs saw it as a drink of royalty and a sacred drink consumed by priests and other important people in society. The seeds of the cacao tree were offered to the Gods for magical favours. It is possible that chocolate was highly regarded by the Aztecs because they were not able to grow their own cacao trees and therefore traded with the Mayans to obtain the beans. Cacao beans therefore became a currency and was considered to be of great value. It is most likely that it was the Aztecs that instilled in us the romantic, pleasurable, aphrodisiac associations we have with chocolate nowadays. The cacao beans were connected to fertility and good health. One of the rulers of the Aztec nations called Moctezuma was said to have drunk 50 cups a days to ensure his virility!
Chocolate has morphed into many products and there are many ways to enjoy it. From highly sweet to white chocolate, dark chocolate and milk chocolate. From chocolate liqueurs to hot chocolate and drinking chocolate. If you truly want to tantalise your chocolate loving lover, indulge them in a cup of real drinking chocolate as a special treat.
Home-made drinking chocolate can be made using milk, cream, grated 70% cocoa chocolate and a vanilla pod. Experiment with the quantities to your own taste. You can add a little sugar to sweeten. Heat the cream, sugar, milk and vanilla pod in a pan but don't let it boil. Add the grated chocolate little by little whisking as you go to melt the chocolate into the mixture. Once it is ready, top with whipped cream and a sprinkling of cinnamon and more grated chocolate.
You can make a vegan version if you like with good vegan chocolate and Soya milk. Adding a little brandy in the mix gives a warm wintry kick to velvet chocolaty delight.
If the idea of 'cooking' fills you with horror, the next best alternative is to purchase gourmet drinking chocolate. There is a huge variety available but for valentine's day you can't beat Karma Sutra dark drinking chocolate. With it's sweet coconut notes and spicy cardamom and clove, this luxurious drinking chocolate is almost guaranteed to make your lover putty in your hands :-)
Another no-cook alternative is chocolate dipped fruits. Strawberries and cherries are considered the best fruits to use. Buy a chocolate melting pot for the ultimate experience.
Moving on for the drinking experience, boxes and gift baskets of chocolate are also a beautiful option. Gourmet chocolate names to look out for are:-
If you are feeling extravagant, you could purchase a single chocolate truffle "La Madeline au Truffe"made by Knipschildt for the handsome sum of $250 - yes you read that correctly! It was noted by Forbes as being the most expensive chocolate in the world.
Lastly the chocolate heart is a perenniel romantic favourite for a man or woman with a sweet tooth. Hearts have been used as a symbol for thousands of years. To the Egyptians the heart was a measure of the soul, weighed at death against a feather. To love and be loved brings the lightest of hearts, the greatest of joys.
Chocolate doesn't have to be a last minute gift. Chosen with care, the chocolate gift for your lover can be an exquisite delight.