All You Need Is Love And Some Chocolate
Houston’s Hottest, Hippest Valentine’s Day Sweets Are Filled With Excitement
Chocolate decadence, chocolate indulgence, chocolate dreams, chocolate kisses, hot chocolate — no matter how you serve it, chocolate has the power to evoke sensuality, gratification and romance. Luckily for us all, Houston is a mecca of seductive venues and talented chefs who have reimagined the tasty treat. The chocolate lovers at Lifestyles & Homes have assembled a list of their favorites that we think are worth sharing with your Someone Special. But first, have a look at what history and science have to say about everyone’s favorite Valentine’s Day delight.
Forever, it seems, the sweet sensation has been associated with St. Valentine’s Day as the go-to gift with the potential to unlock the door of your beloved’s heart and send them swooning in your arms. The mere whisper of the word “chocolate” in her ear can elicit a dreamy smile and faraway look in her eyes. It’s no wonder that men have turned to the seductive power of chocolate.
But is the legendary leverage offered by the dark, sweet potion actually scientific in its allure? Surprisingly, it IS!! Recently, it was proven that the phenylethylamine (PEA) in chocolate releases the same hormone as does making love.
As it turns out, chocolate not only makes the heart grow fonder, but also makes it grow stronger. Like red wine, tea, and fruits and vegetables, dark chocolate is high in flavanols, which, according to the American Heart Association, lower blood pressure as well as bad (LDL) cholesterol levels. And the darker the chocolate, the more potent antioxidants it contains.
It’s also been proven that eating chocolate produces natural opiates in the brain, which provides another explanation for chocolate’s feel-good reputation. In fact, some of the chemical compounds in chocolate act like THC (the active chemical in marijuana) and spark dopamine production in the brain. Unfortunately, the National Institute of Mental Health released research showing that a 130-pound person would have to consume about 25 pounds of chocolate to experience a marijuana-like high!
Still, the aphrodisiac allure of chocolate is recorded as far back as the Aztec King Montezuma, who reportedly drank large amounts to improve his sexual performance. And the illustrious lover Casanova touted chocolate for its ability to provide energy for a night of love. Casanova, too, apparently was hip to the allure of creamy dark chocolate on women prone to cravings, as chocolate can turn on the pleasure sensors in the brain. In fact, the great lothario declared dark chocolate’s sweet, complex and sensual pleasure among the world’s finest aphrodisiacs.
What better way to express your love than with a decadent, indulgent, irresistible chocolate-rich dessert for two? For those who enjoy a little visual stimulation – and who doesn’t? – feast your eyes on these local chocolate treats you can likely find just around the corner. And remember, giving chocolate on Valentine’s Day is not only about tradition; it’s also about how chocolate makes people feel… ALL GOOD!!
Cremeux is Prego’s Chocolate for Lovers.
This silky chocolate mousse cake with hazelnut feuilletine, chocolate and caramel sauces will have you sharing sweet kisses and melting in each other’s arms.
Nothing Bundt Cakes (nothingbundtcakes.com)
This Chocolate Turtle cake is made with rich chocolate, luscious caramel and fresh pecans.
It is then topped off with Nothing Bundt’s
signature frosting. The rich and luscious flavors will have you desiring more after each bite!
The Chocolate Tower at Vallone’s is a
“chocolate lover’s dream,” says Scott Sulma, the restaurant’s managing partner. “True chocolate decadence made with Valrhona chocolate.” If you’re going for “irresistible,” look no further.
Cacao and Cardamom (cacaoandcardamom.com)
Chef Annie Rupani says, “Cacao and Cardamom’s Mango Caramel chocolate drop is sweet and tangy perfection with a blend of mango, passion fruits and coconut milk enrobed in caramel and milk chocolate.” This chocolate won the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo’s Best Bites Competition in 2014 and will likely win your lover’s heart.
Araya owner and chocolatier Stefano Zullian invites you to “Indulge your senses with the aroma and intense flavors of our handcrafted chocolates, discovering the essence of the spices, nuts, fruits or liquors within each piece that melts in your mouth.”
Do you believe in love at first sight? The love of your life could be Sprinkles Raspberry Chocolate Chip cupcakes! Sprinkles’ chocolate chip-studded Belgian dark chocolate cake is topped with luscious raspberry frosting. Adorned with a pink heart, you won’t need to look twice! Valentine’s Day favorites are Red Velvet and Chocolate Marshmallow as well as classics Dark Chocolate and Vanilla.
Kirin’s Chocolate Samosas are savory, flaky, homemade pastries folded into a pocket and filled with Chocolate and Hazelnut Ganache, and deep fried. Kirin’s serves this delicious, one-of-a-kind treat with black-salted caramel and chocolate drizzle, and its Chai Ice Cream made with Kiran’s daughter’s Chai Blend and fresh berries.
The Chocolate Bar (theoriginalchocolatebar.com)
Aunt Etta’s Cake is The Chocolate Bar’s award-winning, most-requested favorite. With four layers of rich, moist chocolate cake held together and surrounded by its famous, creamy, semi-sweet dark chocolate butter cream frosting, what’s NOT to love?