Valentine did indeed exist, he was a real person. He was actually one of the early Christian priests who lived in Rome, in the 3rd century of our era. He was made martyr. What was his crime? Well, he looked for it, he had the audacity of marrying young couples in love, how he dared!
The problems started when the Emperor Claudius II was experiencing some difficulty in recruiting young men for his army. He noticed that the commitment of those young men for the army decreased when they married and felt naturally more committed to their wives and children than to the glory of the Empire. Therefore, Claudius had a brilliant idea: he would forbid the marriage of young soldier’s altogether! How clever...
In those times, people was quite used at having to do what they were told without much chances otherwise, but even then, these new regulations seemed a bit too much to accept. Even for an old priest like Valentine. And just like that, he became a rebel overnight, secretly marrying young couples in love...
Eventually he was caught and jailed. The story tells that his jailer's blind daughter was his friend during captivity. He healed her sight in return, and just before been executed (some says he was beheaded, others say he fed the lions), he sent her a note signed “from your Valentine”...Ahhh, that´s why...
As it was customary by the 5th century, the Catholic Church tried to eradicate Pagan feasts overlapping them with Catholic festivities. And this is how Pope Gelasius in the year 496 A.D. turned the Pagan feast of Lupercalia (dedicated to the fertility and the goddess Juno) celebrated on the 14th February, into the Catholic festivity of Saint Valentine. There are records that show that this feast was definitely celebrated during the Middle Age. It remained an official holiday for Catholics until Pope Paul VI removed it from the Church calendar in 1969.
Why we like to celebrate Valentine´s today? Well, because it is a celebration of love, one of the strongest pursuits of life through all the eras. It brings the perfect excuse to approach those we die for, but normal circumstances don´t allow us to approach in a more conventional way. This festivity makes any audacity acceptable on this date if approaching your loved one is the aim.
This feast has been getting more and more popular with the years, being now celebrated in places such as Australia, Austria, USA, United Kingdom, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Panama, Latin America and even Japan, China, Taiwan and Africa!
You may be against all the marketing behind it, but why not to preserve the spirit of the festivity and treat your darling with something made by you? What about making gourmet Mango-Mint-Coriander Chocolates for your special one? Read on the recipe...
Mango – Mint – Coriander Chocolate Hearts
This taste combination is superb. This recipe is not my merit though, I took it from “Making Fine Chocolates” by the awarded maestro chocolatier Andrew Garrison Shotts . With these chocolate delights, you will take the taste buds by surprise, believe me!
After this recipe, you will never see the chocolate isle of your supermarket with the same eyes. If you were used to think about chocolate depending on the colour, from now on you will see them according with their percentages!! As Shotts explains in his book, a chocolate that is 100% pure cocoa bean will taste too bitter to enjoy, therefore, the need to add some other ingredients to improve its flavour and texture. A 72% chocolate, for example, will have 72% of pure cocoa bean and 28% of other ingredients such as sugar, lecithin (emulsifier) and vanilla. Overall, a chocolate with 52-100% pure cocoa bean is considered a dark chocolate, and between 32-45% a milk chocolate. On the other hand, white chocolates have at least 20% of cocoa fat, being therefore, the unhealthiest of all of them.
Having explained the percentages, it is important to note that chocolates of the same percentage are not necessarily the same. That is: a chocolate with 64% cocoa bean made by one manufacturer may have 55% of chocolate liquor and 9% of cocoa butter while another manufacturer ´s proportions could be 46% liquor and 18% butter. Then, different brands of chocolates with the same percentage of pure cocoa bean may have different flavour and texture. It is up to you to choose the one that please you the most.
If you are seriously into chocolates, the "Making Fine Chocolates" book is a must...
For about 28 Valentine Chocolates Hearts
Note: If these amounts are not in the Unit System of your choice, convert them by clicking here:
-906 g of 64% cocoa bean chocolate, tempered
-147 g of 38% cocoa bean chocolate, chopped
-14 g of 64% cocoa bean chocolate, chopped
-56 g (1/4 cup) double cream
-3 sprig fresh mint
-35 g (2 tablespoons) mango puree
-7 g (1 teaspoon) light corn syrup
-7 g (1 ½ teaspoon) soft salted butter
-3.5 g (1 ½ teaspoon) clear crème de menthe or mint liquor
-Pinch ground coriander
-224 g of 64% cocoa bean chocolate, tempered
Choose the ones you want. Personally I prefer the silicone ones, so much easier to work with! Particularly worth it if you are planning to make more Valentines Chocolates Hearts next year, since they are more expensive than the plastic ones.
Chocolate wrapping paper and box
Tempering the chocolate:
Go to gourmetcandymaker.com
for everything you need to know about
tempering chocolate. Watch the video in it, having in mind that the temperatures mentioned in there are in Fahrenheit degrees and that you don't need a fancy digital thermometer (a basic one will do as long as it covers the range 80-120ºF (27-55ºC).
For our recipe, you will need 1130 g of tempered 64% cocoa bean chocolate (including the amount needed for the shells and the finish), althought it is going to be much easier to handle if you use a larger amount. Remember to set aside about half of it for "seeding", as explained in the video.
For these Valentine chocolates, you will need to prepare first the outer shell, add the ganache filling inside the shells and then complete the finish.
For the shell you use the tempered chocolate. Completely fill the molds with the chocolate, shake the molds a bit to make sure that all cavities are covered. Remove now the excess of chocolate by inverting the mould over the bowl of chocolate and tapping it. Leave the mould upside down until sure that this outer shell has started to set. With the help of a knife or spatula scrap all excess. Now let the shell to set completely.
Prepare the ganache: Place both chocolates (chopped into small pieces of approximately the same size) in a medium-sized bowl. Now we are going to transfer the mint flavour into the double cream: in a small saucepan, put the double cream and the mint, and heat the mixture carefully to avoid burning it, until it start to simmer. Remove from heat, cover with a lid and leave it for 10 minutes. Sieve through a fine mesh and place the minty cream in a medium-sized saucepan. Add to it the mango puree and the syrup. Mix all together and take again to the heat until boiling. At this point, pour into the chopped chocolate, wait for 2 minutes and then stir slowly to incorporate all the flavours and homogenise the texture of these Valentine Chocolate Hearts. Once this ganache has reached about 35ºC (95ºF) - that is when you can barely feel it on your lips - add the butter, the crème de menthe, and the ground coriander. Mix together and now the ganache is ready to be piped into the moulded shells. For this, use a piping bag or any other suitable bag with a cut corner. Fill only three quarters of the shells. Tap the shells carefully to eliminate trapped air bubbles and leave them at room temperature overnight to set.
For the Finish: you will need the tempered chocolate again, warmed up very gently just enough to make it soft and easy to handle (don't panic, the tempering is not going to be affected!). Cover the top of the filled shells with this chocolate and spread it evenly making sure to cover completely the surface of the mould. With a spatula or knife remove any excess chocolate into the bowl. Take the mould to the fridge for about 10-15 minutes (until the chocolate gets detached from the mould). Remove from fridge and let them reach room temperature before proceeding to unmoulding. To unmould, invert the mould onto a clean surface and tap gently until the chocolates are released. These Valentine Chocolate Hearts must look smooth, shiny and perfect! Well, you know :)
Wrap each chocolate in the chocolate wrapping paper of your choice. I used Metalic Red Foil Paper For Wrapping Chocolate/Sweets PK 50 Sheets
Present your Valentine Chocolate Hearts in a box.
You are now ready to please your special one ♥♥♥!!!
You like the idea of presenting your special one with chocolates but don´t have the time or inclination to make them yourself? Help is at hand:
Best Chocolates Of The World Buy strawberries dipped in chocolate and French gourmet chocolate gifts from the best chocolates of the world. Create your own assortment of the best dark chocolates, cookie baskets, or send the gift of chocolate to those you care about the most!
FREE eBook & Newsletters
Would you like to have a Web Page dedicated to Your Best Food Recipes? Your friends, family and the public would be able to see your page, try your recipes and leave comments...
Ideally, write about recipes of your own creation. However, you are welcome to write about somebody else's recipes as long as you acknowledge their credit.
With this chance of shining online, your cooking will be so much more appreciated!!!