In the U.S. we have Valentine’s Day, a day for paper cards and sweets and aphrodisiac meals with your romantic interest. Or it’s a day for spending with single friends rejecting all things attached to the conventional romantic relationships. Either way, there’s usually chocolate.
In Japan, Valentine's Day isn’t really about all that. It’s pretty much about chocolate. Specifically, it’s about girls giving chocolate to boys as a sign of appreciation. The customary approach calls for two forms of gift: 1.) girichoco, or “obligation chocolate” given to male coworkers or classmates, teachers, sports coaches and bosses, and 2.) honmeichoco, or “potential winner chocolate” for close family members and that special someone you either have or would like to have a romantic relationship with. Honmeichoco is more expensive and generally associated with something the person enjoys, or is sometimes homemade. Japanese television shows, especially those concerned with junior high and high school students, make a big deal out of making chocolates for your crush. It almost always goes wrong but it is, of course, a necessary dramatic step towards letting that person know how you feel about them.
I’m not really up for giving chocolate to every guy I know, but I like the idea of making chocolates. Personally, I prefer to make the gifts I give people (and myself!), especially if they’re food gifts. It feels like a better emotional exchange than simply buying a gift. To that end, I’ve been browsing potential dessert recipes.
Flavor homemade truffles with your favorite herbs for a special treat.
Photo by Colleen and Sat Garcia/ Courtesy Flickr
We have two truffle recipes in the Herb Companion archives. The first is for Orange-Mint Truffles, which sounds absolutely delectable. The second is for Spearmint Truffles. One of our former interns shared his recipe for Candied Mint Leaves and Chocolate-Mint Truffles. If you or whomever you’re cooking for doesn’t like mint, try lavender, basil, cardamom or ginger.
For a (nominally) healthier treat, I’ve always enjoyed chocolate dipped candied ginger, dried cherries or candied orange peel.
Not into cooking? Treat yourself to a relaxing chocolate spa treatment or check out our gourmet chocolate reviews. Whatever you do, be sure to enjoy your Valentine's Day, no matter who you spend it with!
As an added note: The Japanese also observe White Day on March 14, when men give candy to all the women they received chocolate from.