Easy Valentine’s Day Chocolate Recipes!

As you may know, Valentine’s Day in Japan is the day when ladies give chocolate to their friends, sweetheart, or someone they hope to get together with (and it’s most often home-made)! Here are some easy recipes to give to your loved ones. Have fun with it!

Chocolate Love Bark

What you need:

Chocolate (of course!) – Milk, semi-sweet, dark, or white.

Toppings – Dried fruits, toasted nuts, cocoa nibs, candied ginger, or pretty much anything you’d like.

How to make:

Line a chilled wax paper on a baking pan, melt the chocolate until it is smooth and pour it onto the pan. Spread the chocolate evenly, sprinkle on the toppings. Place the chocolate in the freezer for 20 minutes to set.

Image: foodnetwork.com

Matcha Truffles

What you need:

1/2 teaspoon of matcha green tea powder

7 ounces 70% Dark Chocolate, fine chopped

1/3 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup sugar

Matcha green tea

How to make:

Combine the cream, sugar and 1/2 a teaspoon of matcha green tea in a saucepan and whisk. Bring to a boil, stir constantly, and remove from heat. Immediately add 5 ounces of the chopped chocolate to the mixture and gently stir until blended. Spread the mixture in a shallow dish and refrigerate until firm. Roll the mixture into balls and arrange on baking sheet lined with wax papaer. Freeze truffles until firm. Melt the leftover two ounces of chopped chocolate and lightly coat the truffles. Roll the cooled truffles in the matcha powder, store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to enjoy!

Recipe courtesy of foodnetwork.com

Spiked Bourbon Hot Chocolate

What you need:

1 cup whole milk

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

2 teaspoons brown sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

2 oz semi sweet chocolate

½ teaspoon vanilla

1½ oz bourbon

whipped cream

caramel

How to make:

Mix the milk, cornstarch, and cocoa powder together in a saucepan. Whisk until completely blended. Turn on the heat to medium-high and add the brown sugar, salt, and chocolate. Stir frequently until the mixture is hot and the chocolate is completely melted. Remove the saucepan from heat and stir in the vanilla and bourbon. Pour the hot chocolate into a mug and top with whipped cream and caramel.

Recipe and photo courtesy of cookienameddesire.com

Choco-dipped Fruit Bouquet

What you need:

Your fav fruits

Your fav chocolate

Cream

How to make:

Melt the chocolate and cream together in a bowl set over simmering water until just melted. Stir and remove from heat. Dip each fruit into the mixture and set aside on wax paper to dry.

Rasberry-filled Molten Cupcakes

What you need:

1/2 cup of granulated sugar

6 tablespoons unsalted butter room temperature

4 large eggs

1/2 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)

Pinch of salt

11 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted (2 1/2 cups chopped)

18 raspberries (36 if they are small)

Confectioners’ sugar, for serving

Vanilla ice cream (optional)

How to make:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 12 standard muffin tin cups with paper liners. In a large bowl with a mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium high until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. With mixer on low, beat in flour and salt. Beat in chocolate until just combined. Divide half the batter among cups, add two raspberries to each, and top with remaining batter.

Bake until tops are just set and no longer shiny, 10 to 11 minutes, let cool in pan on a wire rack, 10 minutes. Remove from pans, dust with confectioners’ sugar, and top with ice cream!

Recipe and photo courtesy of Marthastewart.com

Have fun trying out these recipes and maybe you’ll get something sweet in return next month on White Day! 😉

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3 Ways to Stay Warm in Japan!

We’re currently still in the depths of winter here in Tokyo and everyone’s feeling the chill! Here’s some distinctly Japanese tips to stay warm while we wait for spring. It’s just around the corner and I can already taste the sakura  Starbucks drink… but until then try some of these out!

  1. Go to an Onsen (Japanese Public Bath)

If you haven’t already visited a Japanese public bath, winter is the best time! If you can get out to the countryside and experience a real onsen, you’ll see a multitude of benefits to your skin and health. And best of all, it warms up your whole body so you won’t feel cold all day!

If you’re currently in an inner city area, there are plenty of onsen-style public baths where you can get the same warming effect. Just remember these bathhouses have strict rules so read up properly before you go!

  1. Eat Nabe

Nabe is Japanese style hot-pot. You can throw pretty much anything in which makes it a handy recipe when you’ve got a fridge full of random bits and pieces. You can even buy a pre-made broth at the supermarket, making this dish idiot-proof! Add ingredients to the simmering pot and once they are cooked, everyone can take their pick and eat from their own bowl. While eating, add more ingredients and the whole process starts again! Unlimited food!

If you’re not confident in your cooking skills, brace going outside in the cold to a restaurant. It’ll be worth it! Here’s a list of cheap restaurants for nabe, some are even all-you-can-eat! Amazing!

  1. Use Self-warming Products

 

There’s so many to choose from! Cold back? Back pad! Cold hands? Hand warmers! Cold eyes? Heated eye mask!! Seriously, any type of coldness you may have is covered in this wonderful country.

Self-heating bags can be placed inside your pockets to keep your hands toasty while you’re outside. They’re sold in all supermarkets, drugstores and convenience stores, look for something called ‘Kairo’. They’re super cheap and last for up to 20 hours (use them while you wait for that friend who’s always late…). Simply take them out from the plastic bag, shake them a few times and they start to heat up. Technology!

What are your tips for beating the chill? Leave a comment and let us know!

Stay warm, ladies!