For some Valentine’s Day brings excitement, a chance to express affection for loved ones which they perhaps don’t always show, for others it is the most unromantic day of the year, just another chance for retailers to drown the idea of love in commercialized nonsense. For me it’s an excuse to indulge. In chocolate. Lots of it.
For those who have lived in Japan for a while, you may be aware that Valentine’s Day is done (like many things) differently here. February the 14th is the day for women to treat men; on March the 14th (White Day) it’s the men’s chance to give back to the girls.
Valentine’s Day in Japan also comes with certain cultural rules, similarly to the importance of giving omiyage (souvenirs). Giri choco (obligation chocolate) is given without romantic feelings attached; to co-workers, classmates, clients and so on, whereas Honmei (true love) choco is given affectionately to loved ones.
Some people believe honmei choco should be homemade, to express candidly the genuine love one feels. I’m not averse to giving store bought chocolate, but just with any present giving; it’s the thought and more so the time, that counts.
So if you fancy sparing a little time to make decadent homemade Valentine’s Day treats, then take a look at these recipes.
- 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter
- 3/4 cup Cocoa or raw powdered cacao
- 1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Chopped dates (optional)
- Chopped walnuts (optional)
- Raw powdered cacao
- Coconut thread (optional)
- Powdered sugar (optional)
- Candy sprinkles
- Truffle cases
- A small gift box
- Chocolate cup cases
– Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat.
– Add cocoa/cacao; stir until smooth.
– Add sweetened condensed milk; increase heat to medium.
– Stir constantly, after about 4 minutes the mixture should have a pudding-like consistency; smooth and glossy.
– Turn off the heat and add the vanilla essence.
– Pour into a bowl. If you’re using dates and walnuts, chop finely and combine with the chocolate mixture.
– Cover with cling film and refrigerate for 4 hours.
Next: rolling time! Your hands WILL get sticky, if the mixture seems too watery, then add some more powdered cacao. Roll into 3cm balls and then cover in your preferred coating. Don’t put into the truffle case yet, once you’ve finished rolling, place the truffles in the fridge for 2 hours.
When they’re nicely set, put into the truffle cases. Place into a gift box and you’re ready to impress.
Heart shaped chocolates:
You can cheat a little with these chocolates if you wish. Chocolate heart shaped cups can be bought in various stores, such as Kaldi, Peacocks and Seibu. So all you need to do is fill in the hearts with the same mixture as the truffles, using a knife to smooth out the surface. Lastly, delicately decorate the chocolates with Valentine’s Day themed toppings.
So there you have it, a simple way to a man or woman’s heart!