For many years, cultures around the world have considered chocolate to be connected to sensual desire. The Aztecs are thought to be the first to link the two, and it is said that Emperor Montezuma was notorious for consuming great amounts of the cocoa bean before, ahem, hopping into bed (O’Connor, 2006).
The history and lore surrounding the cocoa bean is vast, intricate, and takes many forms in our modern day culture. Perhaps the sacred intention of consuming cocoa before a tryst has become less common throughout the years, but chocolate has not lost its place in romance. We still present our lover with assortments of truffles, wrapped up in shiny gold boxes on Valentine’s Day or to apologize for an angry exchange of words.
Instead of browsing the shelves of your local pharmacy, grab your sweetheart, your cat, or a friend and try your hand at recreating one of the following herbal chocolate recipes.
Whether it be a romantic night in or to pass on to a crush, introducing the ritual of making your own chocolate into your life can change the way you view this seemingly common sweet treat. And, incorporating herbs and spices into chocolate is a challenging yet exciting way to swap things up and add a little health to your sweet tooth routine.
3 Herbal Chocolate Recipes To Inspire Love & Passion
1. Vegan Cayenne Pepper Bark with Crystallized Ginger
The beauty of chocolate bark is partially due to the ease of its creation. If you were wondering what to do with all that leftover holiday chocolate, this may be your answer. The following recipe is my take (and what I had in my cupboard!), but you can add whatever you want! Milk chocolate, white chocolate, berries, nuts, and aromatic herbs can also be incorporated if you please. Explore your creative side in this herbal chocolate recipe, and let your inner kitchen witch shine!
Vegan Cayenne Pepper Bark with Crystallized Ginger
- Fill a medium sized pot with water and bring to a boil. Find a glass mixing bowl that will sit comfortably on top of the pot and melt your chocolate in that. If you have a double boiler, you should use that instead.
- Once chocolate has melted, fold in cayenne and cinnamon powders, adding a splash of vanilla extract. Heat and stir until all ingredients run smooth and remove bowl from pot.
- Pour onto a baking sheet lined with wax or parchment paper. Smooth out with a spatula, making it as thin as you’d like.
- Chop up desired amount of crystallized ginger and sprinkle over chocolate while still warm.
- Keep in fridge or other cool spot until hardened. Once chocolate has set, break up and store in jars or other container.
2. Maca Root Rum Balls
This is an herbal take on a classic recipe. Drawing inspiration from Rosemary Gladstar’s Zoom Balls (Gladstar, 2008) and my aunt’s recipe for rum balls, I was really happy how these turned out. Store them in a tin or tupperware container lined with parchment paper and keep in the fridge. Add more or less spices of whatever suits your taste.
Maca Root Rum Balls
Makes 24 balls
1 ½ cups crushed gingersnaps
1 ½ cups crushed walnuts
250 grams dark chocolate
¼ cup rum
¼ cup honey or maple syrup
½ tablespoon maca powder
¼ teaspoon nutmeg (powdered or freshly grated)
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Shredded coconut or powdered sugar for coating
- Start by crushing the gingersnaps and walnuts in a food processor or with a rolling pin. Crush until both become fine crumbs, or crush the walnuts separately and leave a little thicker.
- Melt the chocolate in a bowl above a pot of boiling water (using the same method used to make the chocolate bark—see above). Add maca, rum, honey and spices to the melted chocolate and mix till everything runs smooth.
- Incorporate the crushed gingersnaps and walnuts to the chocolate mixture and fold until stiff.
- Roll into 2 inch balls and coat with either powdered sugar or shredded coconut.
3. Lavender & Damiana Drinking Chocolate with Rose Whipped Cream
Really, what’s better than curling up with loved one, a book, and a mug of hot cocoa? I’ve been playing around with this herbal chocolate recipe all winter, mixing up the herbs I use nearly every time I make it. But, in the spirit of love, I wanted to infuse damiana (Turnera diffusa) into the milk before adding chocolate. The results are breathtaking and will satisfy any late night sweet tooth.
Keep in mind that this can always be made vegan by using an alternative milk (almond, coconut, etc.) instead of dairy.
Lavender & Damiana Drinking Chocolate with Rose Whipped Cream
2 cups whole milk (or cream, if you dare)
1 cup chocolate of your choice
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon damiana
½ a small orange for zest
- In a medium saucepan, heat milk and damiana on low till hot, but be careful not to boil. Remove from heat, cover and let sit for 5 minutes.
- Strain damiana and return milk to pot, heating on low.
- Combine chocolate, orange zest and remaining ingredients (minus lavender water, this will come later) to the milk and heat until blended, running smooth.
- Serve in your favorite mugs, add a few splashes of lavender water and a generous dollop of rose water whipped cream—see recipe below.
Rose Water Whipped Cream
You may find yourself plopping this upon every beverage you consume from now on… you’ve been forewarned!
Rose Water Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
- Put sugar and heavy cream into a medium size mixing bowl. Add a tiny splash of rosewater -a little goes a long way, believe me!
- Whisk or use a hand mixer till stiff.
- Use right away or store in an airtight container in fridge. Will keep for 1-2 days.
About the herbs used in these recipes
Lavender (Lavandula vera) – Lavender is commonly used to promote relaxation and help bring on sleep. A delightfully aromatic herb, you can often find lavender in essential oil form and other aromatic tools.
Maca (Lepidium meyenii) – Often referred to as Peruvian ginseng, maca is a root that is said to enhance energy and stamina while being chock full of nutrients like iron, potassium, and magnesium. Maca is also known to balance hormones and increase sexual potency.
Rose (Rosa centifolia) – Rose is often associated with the act of love. A powerful little flower, rose offers us the ability to accept the love of others and ourselves.
Damiana (Turnera diffusa) – Damiana has long been known for its use an aphrodisiac, especially in Mexico where it grows natively. There is a popular liquor from Mexico that has a base of damiana and is easily recognizable due to its voluptuous glass container, modeled after an Incan Goddess. Damiana is also said to be helpful when dealing with depression, anxiety, and nervousness (“Damiana,” n.d.).
Damiana (Turnera Diffusa). (n.d.). Retrieved January 7, 2017, from http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-damiana.html
Gladstar, R. (2008). Rosemary Gladstar’s herbal recipes for vibrant health. North Adams, MA: Storey Pub.
O’Connor, A. (2006, July 17). The Claim: Chocolate Is an Aphrodisiac. Retrieved January 7, 2017, from http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/18/health/18real.html