Valentine's Day Treats

From the 

shortbreadwwhitechocnraspfront.jpgFebruary 14th is named after the patron saint, St. Valentine, and we celebrate this day with the exchange of candy, flowers, cards, and gifts as a token of affection to our loved ones. The history of this day is very sketchy but it does appear to derive from Christian and Roman traditions. The story I like dates from the third century when Rome was ruled by the Emperor Claudius II. The Emperor outlawed marriages for young men as he felt single men made better soldiers than men who were married. 

A priest, named St. Valentine, didn't agree with the Emperor and married young lovers in secret.  When the Emperor discovered what St. Valentine was doing, he sentenced him to death. While St. Valentine was in prison, waiting to be put to death, he met and fell in love with the jailor's daughter. Before he died he sent her a love letter and signed it "From your Valentine". This expression is still used today and St. Valentine is now best remembered as a romantic and heroic figure.

hotchocolatefront.jpg This tale reaffirms our desire to romantically celebrate Valentine's Day. And chocolate, with its aura of being an aphrodisiac, becomes the perfect gift to give or receive from our mate. So strong was the Aztec's belief of chocolate's power as an aphrodisiac that their emperor, Montezuma, used to drink upwards of 50 cups of chocolate per day. It also became very popular in Spain when Hernando Cortés brought it back from his voyage to the New World in the 16th century. Aristocratic ladies loved to start their mornings with a cup of chocolate and would even instruct their servants to bring them a cup during Mass.

To welcome this Valentine's Day why not start the morning as Montezuma did, with a cup of hot chocolate. Whether you make it with just milk or with a combination of milk and coffee, it is delicious tasting and will leave you with a warm glow.


Hot Chocolate Recipe 

2 cups (480 ml)milk
1½ ounces (45 grams) semisweet chocolate, chopped

For Garnish:

Softly whipped cream or marshmallows
Grated chocolate or cocoa powder

Place the milk and chopped chocolate (can also add sugar to taste) in a saucepan over medium heat and whisk periodically until the mixture reaches the boiling point and is foamy. Remove from heat and if more foam is desired, use a wire whisk or hand held blender to whip the hot chocolate.

Pour the hot chocolate into two cups and garnish with a dollop of whipped cream (or handful of marshmallows) and a dusting of cocoa powder or grated chocolate.

Note: To make hot or iced mocha simply replace ½ cup (120 ml) milk with your favorite brewed coffee. Proceed with the recipe, but if you want it iced, let the mixture cool and then pour over ice cubes. Garnish with whipped cream and grated chocolate.

Makes 2 - 8 ounce (240 ml) servings.


Recipe and article reprinted courtesy of