Love is in the air… and heart-shaped chocolates are in my hand

Just in time for Valentine’s Day and this year’s Fort Davis Lions Club Bake Sale, I’ve found a new hobby – candymaking. A couple years ago, I bought candy molds when I discovered that I could make my own chocolate, with relative ease, at home.

Lately, I’ve been putting them to good use, especially in practicing for the upcoming bake sale we’re holding just before Valentine’s Day.

A couple of my confections for sampling.

Make no mistake – I don’t want to have all of these lovely little sweets around to nibble on – but I truly enjoy creating them. I told my husband that I’ve recently decided I want to be a chocolatier when I grow up.

He just chuckled and sampled a layered dark chocolate with minty white chocolate morsel, approvingly, followed by a heart-shaped chile and cinnamon dark chocolate piece. He also approved of the chocolate with whole almonds in it. I really like the little white chocolate roses with a touch of mint, as they remind me of the pastel meltaway mints my grandparents often had around when I was growing up.

A great way to enjoy hearts and flowers.

I tried making a batch of Valentine-y candy with red sprinkles, and gold and silver sugar ball sprinkles, but they came out kind of funny looking so those won’t make it out in public. Some things really do look better on Pinterest… below are my Pinterest-failures.

I’m grateful to be able to donate delightful little goodies for the bake sale… and no longer have them in my waning-will-powered possession.

I love chocolate.

Lest we forget, Valentine’s Day isn’t just about hearts and flowers and love and candy. About one thousand, seven hundred and forty-eight years ago, a Roman priest named Valentinus sat in prison, awaiting his death for defying an oppressive Roman emperor by marrying Christian couples who were in love. There’s no clear story about the man, but one legend states that while he was awaiting his execution, he healed the jailer’s young, blind daughter. On the day he was executed, he left her a note signed, “Your Valentine.”

Over the years, St. Valentine has become known as the Patron Saint of engaged couples, happy marriages, love and lovers, among other slightly more obscure things such as bee keeping, fainting and traveling. Represented in pictures with birds and roses, his feast day is celebrated on February 14 – the day Valentinus was executed.

Nowadays, St. Valentine is all but forgotten in a wild flurry of chocolate, hearts, roses and the colors red and pink.

According to the internet, 2017 was a record year in Valentine’s Day spending. Projections for this year are just as spendy – $18.2 billion is anticipated, and about 54 percent of Americans are expected to contribute to the Valentine’s Day shopping experience.

Out of those folks, about 20 percent are expected to buy jewelry to the tune of $4.3 billion. That said, roughly 250 million roses are grown and produced just in time for the big day, according to the Society of American Florists. One-point-seven-billion-dollars in candy, and 190 million greeting cards.

All because a priest was executed for aiding people that were in love back in the third century.

This year, Valentine’s Day falls on a Wednesday. A few days before, the Fort Davis Lions Club will have a Valentine’s Day-inspired bake sale on Friday, Feb. 9 from 7:30-11:30 a.m. at Porter’s in Fort Davis, with all sorts of homemade sweets wrapped in festive Valentine’s Day packaging available for purchase for you and your Valentines.

NOTE: Following up, we made $1118 from the bake sale!

Quick and Easy Three-Ingredient Chocolate
(this is a great way to get started with making your own candy – but watch out, you’ll be buying candy molds and expanding your recipes in no time!)

1/2 cup cocoa powder (or cacao for a healthier chocolate – cocoa and cacao can be used interchangeably)

1/4 cup coconut oil, at room temperature (not melted)

1/4 cup maple syrup

A pinch of sea salt

Place cocoa powder in a medium bowl. Add coconut oil and maple syrup. Mix ingredients thoroughly with a spatula, pressing the oil and syrup into the powder. Mix well until smooth.

Line a loaf pan or small baking dish with parchment paper. (Note: The larger pan you use, the thinner your chocolate will be – a loaf pan makes a nice bar.)

Pour chocolate mixture onto parchment paper and smooth out evenly. Sprinkle with sea salt.

Place in the freezer for at least 1 hour.

Once your chocolate hardens, cut it into small squares. Store in the freezer until ready to serve. Remember that when coconut oil reaches about 74 degrees, it melts… so that’s why you’ll want to keep these chocolates at least refrigerated, if not frozen until you’re ready to enjoy them.

Printed with permission of the Alpine Avalanche

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