As Valentine’s Day approaches, you might be leaping with joy at the idea of spending time with your significant other, friends, family or pets, or you might be cringing at the commercial display of love-themed cards and gifts. But no matter how you feel about this holiday, whoever you are spending it with, chances are chocolate will be involved. We often choose foods to symbolize different occasions, feelings, and beliefs in many cultures, and if love were to be a food, it would definitely be chocolate. Where did the tradition of eating chocolate on Valentine’s Day come from, and what kind of innovative chocolate recipes could you try out this year?
Chocolate and Valentine’s Day: a grand love story
Before chocolate and Valentine’s Day became the inseparable lovers they are today, chocolate had a long history as a food associated with love and passion. It all started in ancient Mesoamerica, where the elite Mayans and Aztecs consumed it as a drink paired with spices and chilies. It was as valuable a commodity as gold. By the 1600s, Europeans started being seduced by chocolate, and it became increasingly popular, as a food, a medicine, and an aphrodisiac.
While chocolate began gaining popularity across the world in ancient times, Valentine’s Day only started to be associated with love in the late 1300s, when Chaucer talked about bird lovers on Valentine’s Day in one of his poems. Before that, a form of Valentine’s Day existed, but it was associated with the Christian martyr named Valentine.
Valentine’s Day was increasingly celebrated as a love holiday, with gifts and cards. But its love story with chocolate only began in the 19th century when Richard Cadbury, whose family manufactured chocolate, started packaging the chocolates in pink heart-shaped boxes, that could be kept even after the chocolate was consumed1. From that point onwards, more and more chocolate companies started marketing their chocolate in association with Valentine’s Day. Thus the great love story was born.
Vegan and Gluten-Free treats for chocolate lovers
If you want to indulge in a sweet chocolate treat while sticking to a vegan and/or gluten-free diet, there are many recipes you can enjoy making and eating. Chocolate cups for example, are the perfect easy-to-make Valentine’s Day treat. All you need is 28 ounces of chopped dark chocolate, 5 ounces of dates, 1/3 of a cup of shredded coconut, 2/3 of a cup of water, and 2 bananas. Start by melting the chocolate and pouring some into baking cups, while being sure to coat the edges. Then, set the baking cups in the fridge for a few minutes. During this time you can make the filling. For this step, blend the dates, coconut, bananas and water together. Put the filling in the chocolate covered backing cups, and cover it all with some more of the melted chocolate. Put it in the fridge for a while so they can harden, and you’ll have a delicious, healthy treat that will delight everyone’s taste buds!
If you are on the go and need an easier way to satisfy your chocolate cravings this Valentine’s Day, there are many pre-made baked goods you can get. Or if you are busy but still want to bake, check out these delicious vegan and gluten free mixes!
Whatever your Valentine’s Day plans are this year, don’t forget to treat yourself to some yummy chocolate treats. It’s been a cold winter, you deserve some warmth and sweetness!
Lisa Darmet is a freelance writer, whose passions include not only eating but also food and cooking and their connections to health, culture and society. She is a graduate of Hampshire College, Amherst, MA, USA & a world traveler.