What exactly is the relation between chocolate and Valentine’s Day? Is it even good for you? Meera Vadgama seeks to find out.
Chocolate has become almost synonymous with Valentine’s Day, and it doesn’t seem like this tradition will be phased out anytime soon. And no, I am not complaining. I love chocolate just as much as the next girl (or man)! Popularized as a go-to symbol of seduction and said to evoke feelings of pleasure, excitement, satisfaction and even attraction by die-hard enthusiasts, it is a no-brainer then it always finds itself in many a dessert and gift pack every February 14th. But what exactly is the relation between chocolate and Valentine’s Day? Is it even good for you?
It is said that Richard Cadbury (yes, the Cadbury) was responsible for the correlation between Valentine’s Day and chocolate as we know it today, and he popularized this when he started producing heart shaped boxes of chocolate back in the 18th century. This delightfully decadent confection has however been around a lot longer than that. Here’s a piece of very interesting chocolate history: It was referred to as ‘the food of the gods’ during the Aztec civilisation. Matter-of-fact, cacao beans were deemed as valuable a commodity as gold, and were even used to pay taxes levied by Montezuma the Aztec leader. Oh, and it was also believed to be an aphrodisiac. How come? Well, Christopher Columbus brought some to Queen Isabella of Spain, and this new treasure and its legend for being an aphrodisiac spread amongst aristocracy in Europe.
As you can tell by now, Chocolate has intrigued man-kind throughout history. Commercial chocolate is laden with sugar, hydrogenated fat and preservatives, but cocoa from which chocolate is made is a superfood containing iron, magnesium and zinc amongst other minerals. It is also an antioxidant and limited research shows it may be beneficial in lowering blood pressure. Depending on the brand, dark or black chocolate, which is generally made by adding small amounts of fat and sugar to cocoa, is therefore indeed as good for you as they say it is. Raw chocolate, which is pure and unprocessed is readily found in chocolate growing countries, and is actually the healthiest kind.
Before you reach for that chocolate bar whilst rubbing your hands in glee – you may want to consider making your own chocolate confection which does away with all the commercially added nasties and is instead actually good for you. The recipe below is bound to impress your date this Valentine’s Day. If you don’t have a date, don’t worry…you will always have chocolate!
Chocolate Almond Butter Cups
To make the cups:
- ¾ cup coconut oil
- 1 cup cacao powder
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- To make the caramel
- 1 cup dates, pitted
- 2 tbsps honey
- 2 tbsps coconut oil
- 2 tbsps almond butter
- ½ tsp vanilla powder (or essence)
- A pinch of sea salt
- 2 tbsps of water
- 1-2 tsps of peanut butter
- 6 almonds
- Mix the coconut oil, cacao powder and maple syrup in a medium sized bowl and whisk.
- Pour some of the chocolate mix into cupcake moulds (approx 2 tbsps in each to fill 1/3 of the mould cup). Place these in the freezer whilst you make the caramel.
- To make the caramel, process the dates, honey and coconut oil in a food processor until the mixture resembles a paste.
- Add 2 tbsps of almond butter to this mixture, together with the vanilla and salt. Add water if it is too thick.
- Scoop a tsp of caramel over cooled chocolate cups and pour the remaining chocolate over the caramel. Freeze for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Place a tsp of caramel on the center of each chocolate cup and place an almond into the caramel. The cups should be stored in the refrigerator and keep for 2 weeks. Enjoy!