Oops! Valentine's Day is around the corner and I forgot to give you guys something special to make whether it's for your kids, their teachers, your partner or your sworn enemy because I know, I know V-day is a big fat joke to most people - just another capitalist holiday to boost the economy, right? But a morale boost? I'm really not so sure about that. For me, Valentine's day is all about my parents, in particular my dad. Every year they showered my sister and me with gifts in the form of cupid pajamas, candy hearts and parental love notes. Driving home that ever hopeful point that love is all you need. Well, that and a 401k, if you can manage one. Too bad neither of their children did manage one, but love? We got that in spades.
There's my given family with Mom, Dad, Ari, Alex, Leo, Max, Pepper, Dani, Stephanie, PJ, Tyler, Choo, Debbie, David, Zoe, Shawn, Sydney. And there's my chosen family consisting of Hanne, Chloe, Sarah, Sarah, Sara, Zach, Chris, Kate, Anthony, David, Ashley, Buzzy, Cat, Amy, Grace, Travis, Graham, Aimie, Lowin, Gamba, Ally, Tim, Blair, Poppy, Fish, Jason's whole family, Craig, Dana, Tucci, Mona, Marissa, Jesmille, Jenny, Thomas, Daniella, Audrey, Devin, Sherry, Bob, Ella, Katie, Kimberly, Tarina, Michelle, and so on, and of course there's Jason, THE love.
But a girl's dad... well, that's its own sort of loving kindness.
And the lucky truth is there are more. Like so many more, and I don't need no Feb 14th to remind me how much love there is in my life and in the world. My dad, the calm and loving force in the Wolfe house, is an especially remarkable example of love and perseverance. He was the middle child with one older and one much younger sister. They grew up in a tiny tenement apartment in what is now called Alphabet City, and eventually they moved to a bigger shoebox in Jackson Heights, Queens. Without being too crass, that family didn't deserve him. If he didn't look so much like his dad I would have sworn he was adopted. Maybe my dads tendency towards loving kindness and affection was a rejection of what he learned as a child. He later had two daughters of his own, and like my mom, his only priority was to raise us up, up, up. My dad, Phil, my hero, is the man who taught me how I wanted to be treated and respected and loved, especially by a man. It's no big surprise that I found Jason, who shares the same affectionate, loving, gentleness as my pops. I'm so honored to have both of them in my life. I'm so honored to have all of the love that I have.
So a day to celebrate all that? I'm down. But let's just remember if you don't have one particular someone, it might be a good day to celebrate all the others: the ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends who broke your heart, only readying you for the next great love of your life. Or God, if that's what you believe in. Or your pet. Or your teacher. Or yourself? Any day to practice loving ourselves is probably good. Is definitely good.
Homemade chocolate is generally pretty tricky, not unlike relationships. But if you don't fuss too much, and just kinda go for it, knowing that chocolate is generally good and hard to mess up then you'll have something tasty, even if imperfect. I'm no chocolatier, but my research suggests that chocolate is temperamental, like literally. Chocolate acts differently under different circumstances, so you gotta know what you're working with. We will be using dark chocolate chips (69% cocoa) . In this recipe, I add coconut butter which is high in fat and helps the chocolate keep shape after refrigeration. With this recipe, you don't have to worry too much if it'll turn out in the end. It just will.
- 2/3 Cup of Enjoy Life chocolate chips/morsels (or whatever brand you prefer)
- 1 teaspoon Coconut Butter
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of hazelnut extract (or vanilla if you don't have on hand)
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- a big ol generous pinch of chipotle powder
- a pinch of pink Himalayan sea salt
- 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar
- In a double boiler, put the coconut butter in the pan and stir with a whisk until melty or soft and mixable. If you don't have an official double boiler, take a small pot and fill with water. Bring to a bowl, then add smaller pot so that it just rests in the bigger pots now boiling water and reduce heat. This is important so the chocolate doesn't burn. This is an official double boiler, this is what I have, and this is what you do if you have neither.
- Next, add the choco chips and stir consistenly over medium heat with a whisk, until melted.
- Remove from heat and whisk in the hazelnut, cinnamon and chipotle spice until mixed well.
- Now you need to quickly, evenly, and as smoothly as possible pour the chocolate into your mold. I have this cute heart shaped one for Vagina Day. I mean, Valentine's Day. Whatever, same thing. You can get one here, or any mold you have on hand will do. I prefer the silicone, as it's a bit more forgiving to remove the chocolates once they're done.
- After, you need to take a scraper and smooth the top of the chocolates so there's an even line and they shape perfectly in the refrigerator.
- Place chocolate mold on cookie sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes minimum.
- Once the chocolates are ready, gentle pop them out of their mold and place on a flat surface. Be careful not to handle them with your fingers so they don't leave a fingerprint.
- Mix the powdered sugar and however much cinnamon and chipotle powder you want with a fork in a small bowl. Then take your duster and gentle sift over the chocolates.
- Best enjoyed dunked in your coffee or with a large dollop of peanut butter.
I'll enjoy some of these while I think about how lucky I am that my dad sent me that card (above) for my birthday this year. You're the flap in my jack too, Dad. Peace and love e'ryone.