The festival of chocolate and hearts is almost upon us! Pink and red and all of their shades take over everything, and almost every kind of chocolate and candy has been given a makeover to represent love in some form. While it is certainly gimmicky, cheesy, and a promotional ploy by companies to get people to buy their product, I cannot say that I mind it initially. We all know that I love chocolate, and those colors really are my favorites, so seeing all of this in such abundance does put a smile on my face. But I have to remember not to let all the shiny sparkles and elegant floral designs fool me, for what is underneath the beautiful wrapping is usually not as notable as it might seem at first glance.
Even though the classics desserts hidden in these festive, eye-catching, commercial offerings are tried and true, they do get a little boring and overdone. A truffle chocolate heart or one filled with caramel will always be delicious, but after so many years, it just does not spark as much intrigue or jubilation as I desire. It might be recognizable and even somewhat nostalgic, but even though I hate to say it, sometimes a memory makes something more than it actually is. Just like a handful of chocolate chips when you have a hankering for something sweet and caffeinated, this traditional chocolate heart will hit the spot for that moment, but it won't make your physical heart, stomach, or mind sing or even truly thrill you and stimulate the romanticism of this holiday. And it will soon be long forgotten.
For a day that is all about love, then the complementary snacks that go along with it should make you fall in love with them too! If they are your every day shell and filling just in a different shape, eventually you will figure out this masquerade. We deserve to feel special every day, but when Valentine's Day makes this idea such a prominent theme of its celebration, then it is even more essential to get it right that day, even for something as simple as chocolate; despite the fact that consumption only lasts for a moment, it could evoke a marvelous sensation that could linger forever, and who does not want a lasting reminder of happiness or pleasure?
As someone who does not like to wait around for such positive feelings, I decided to take things into my own hands. I am shaking things up this year for the chocolate side of Valentine's Day, making my own and calling it a 'White Chocolate Blueberry Mojito with a Kick! '
To start, this chocolate is not filled with more chocolate but with a flavor that is usually found in a cocktail. Here, it is much more concentrated and spiced with jalapeño to fire you up for a spectacular evening with your significant other. Additionally, instead of rum, I went with tequila; its grassy, layered depth does not disappear into the blueberries and thus helps this chocolate heart to come across with all the fancy finesse that it should.
The white chocolate shell is enhanced by the other key component of this drink - a perfect amount of mint extract. Getting the mint flavor exactly right is key so that you do not overpower the white chocolate or the blueberries with too much sharp herbal essence (the extract is so strong that even one tiny drop could ruin the whole dessert). I also add a little salt here to lift up the white chocolate. Because it has a subtler profile, it could easily get lost amongst everything else going on, but the salt helps it find its way and stay fully present in every bite.
These two components are all you need: fill a heart mold halfway with the chocolate, sneak in the blueberry jalapeño filling, and then seal it in with more white chocolate. Keep a few of the blueberries for when the chocolate sets. Their purple juice is how you will paint the color of love onto your masterpiece.
Elevating your chocolate game for the holiday is quite simple - you do not need to be a famous chocolatier to make something that fills your soul with elation! Like a relationship, what makes a chocolate worthwhile are the flavors you experience while enjoying it and what is left after it is gone. A vibrant, comforting, and distinctive combination like this is what Valentine sweets need to be about so that you are all over your chocolates when love is in the air, and so you are filled with something extra that keeps the love flowing when the day comes to an end! Is it too much to say that life without them would be impossible and you do not want to spend one more second any other way? Probably, but if the chocolate is THAT good, would you desire to think otherwise?!
White Chocolate Blueberry Mojito with a Kick, All in the Shape of a Heart
Yield: 8 to 10 one-inch chocolate hearts
Blueberry Jalapeño Filling
2/3 cups Blueberries, fresh or frozen
2 T tequila
1 Lime, zested and juiced
1/8 tsp Salt
In a small pot, add the blueberries, tequila, lime juice and zest, and salt and begin cooking over low heat.
With gloves, trim off the stem of the jalapeño, cut it in half, and remove the ribs and seeds. Slice into the thinnest slices that you can, then chop into the tiniest pieces that you can. Add to the blueberries.
Continue cooking over low heat until the blueberries begin to burst and the texture resembles that of a jam. Let cool,
White Chocolate Mint Shell
1 1/3 cup White Chocolate
¼ tsp Mint Extract
½ tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ tsp Salt
Melt the white chocolate in the microwave for 45-second intervals on medium power until it is liquified.
Stir in the mint extract, olive oil, and salt.
Fill the six heart molds half way with the white chocolate mixture.
Place ¼ teaspoon of the blueberry filling in the center, pushing down lightly so it just begins to sink into the white chocolate. Save a little for painting on the surface/garnish.
Cover and fill to the top of the molds with the rest of the white chocolate.
Let harden in the fridge for about 1 ½ hours, then pop out of the mold.
With a paintbrush or a spoon, decorate your hearts' surface by rubbing the blueberries/their juice gently over the top - you might have to squish the blueberries to get some liquid.
Store at room temperature, then share with your valentine unless you would rather keep them all for yourself!