Sometimes we like our chocolate straight-up bittersweet, rich, and over-the-top; other times we prefer a subtler cacao hit (even white chocolate on occasion). Some form of chocolate is clearly de rigueur for Valentine’s Day, but why restrict yourself (or your significant other) to bonbons or truffles? Make chocolate cocktails, and cook with Theobroma cacao too. There are lots of ways to do it, but one of our favorite approaches is to balance it out with warm spices and even chiles.
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Mexican chocolates infused with flavors like chipotle, coffee, and vanilla are great in drinks or dishes both sweet and savory.
Our chocolate-centric, Mexico-inspired Valentine’s Day menu has plenty of sweetness, but isn’t cloying, because there’s always a tempering touch of bitterness, and a little spice. Yes, it’s heavy on desserts, but no one’s going to be complaining.
Serve tortillas to scoop up this wonderfully complex pork mole stew. The chocolate-enriched mole sauce isn’t something you can make in an hour, but hey: Tell your Valentine you did all that hard work out of love. Get our Pork Mole Colaradito recipe.
This Crock-Pot chicken mole takes a while too, but is mostly all hands-off (not that you have to tell anyone that). Of course, it tastes fantastic. Get our Slow Cooker Chicken Mole recipe.
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Bark is one of the easiest chocolate confections you can make. This one, with bits of toffee, pumpkin seeds, and a hit of cayenne, is a great little nibble with goat cheese and baguette toasts—or as dessert, as you might expect. Get our Chocolate Toffee Pumpkin Seed Bark recipe.
Cocoa powder, cinnamon, and a touch of cayenne make this cookie dough addictive (and a tiny bit spicy); the dough can be chilled and frozen ahead of time, as long you thaw them overnight before baking. Try making ice cream sandwiches with these and our Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream recipe for a double dose of deliciousness. Get our Mexican Chocolate Slice-and-Bake Cookies recipe.
Make this Mexican hot chocolate with whole milk for richness, or try a coconut milk-based version, but either way, know that it only gets better if you dip our cinnamon-sugar churros in your cup. And a little splash of Kahlúa never hurts. Get our Mexican Hot Chocolate recipe.
Go ahead, get a little devilish on Valentine’s Day. This dark chocolate cake has a nuanced warmth from ancho chile (add a dash of cayenne too if you want some spice), but it’s layered with positively angelic whipped cream (or buttercream, if you prefer) and sliced red strawberries, then topped with toasted almonds for a nutty crunch. Get our Mexican Devil’s Food Cake recipe.
Fit for breakfast in bed or for dessert (in bed or otherwise), these yeast-raised waffles have a little extra texture from semolina and a churro-inspired coating of cinnamon sugar. As if that wasn’t enough, they’re drizzled with a chile-spiked dark chocolate sauce and a lightly sweetened coconut cream sauce too. Get our Churro-Style Waffles with Spiced Chocolate and Coconut Crema recipe.
Check out our Valentine’s Day giveaway on Instagram (three lucky winners will get lots of goodies from Hotel Chocolat)! And visit our Valentine’s Day headquarters for more sweet recipes, tips, and tricks, including great Valentine’s Day gift ideas to make everyone happy.
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Related Video: How to Make Mexican Chocolate Doughnuts with Marshmallow Filling
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This post was originally published on February 12, 2013 and was updated with new images, links, and text on January 31, 2019.
Images by Chris Rochelle for Chowhound.