I should have known that something erotic would result after submitting my $69 payment for a cooking class at Sur La Table that I attended last Saturday. Chef Gisselle led the class through recipes for Chocolate Soufflés, Grand Marnier Truffles and Nutella Biscotti. She knows her stuff about chocolate. I really appreciated her tip on tempering chocolate to the temperature of a kiss. This creates a harder, shiner finish for your bon bons. That’s exactly what I did for my white chocolate version of “Nipples of Venus”. You see, I’ve been obsessed with chocolate lately. It may have a lot to do with its complex chemical makeup and its intriguing history. Originating in the Amazon some 4,000 years ago, the Aztecs considered the cacao tree to be food of the gods. It was so revered that it was used as currency and was reserved for warriors, nobility and priests. Cacao was also used in sacred rituals and festivities associated with birth and marriage. Esteemed as a symbol of holiness and power, the indigenous people added hot peppers and dried chili to the ground bean to add to the release of adrenaline and the euphoric uplifting experience that chocolate causes. Even science reveals that intrinsic properties of chocolate are a stimulant that turns on the pleasure sensors. It releases phenylethylamine (PEA), the same hormone released in sexual intercourse. This neurotransmitter stimulates motivation and drive. Other chemical compounds in chocolate act like THC, the active chemical in marijuana. THC sparks dopamine production in the brain and is responsible for that “high” feeling. So I can see why priests, who are the conduits of communication to higher beings and warriors, who defend the land, were fed chocolate for their specific purposes in these ancient times. I can also see why chocolate is a key ingredient in seduction. It has a profound effect on the libido and is erection medicine according to a recent article in Men’s Health magazine. In fact, chocolate almost had Vianne Rocher, from the fiction novel turned movie, “Chocolat”, thrown out of the Village of Lansquenet because of its pleasurable powers. She arrived in the prudent Village on Mardi Gras, the day of feasting that precedes Lent. The winds of change had blown the nomadic gypsy and her daughter into the town as they searched for a place to call home. She knew the mystical secrets of the chocolate trade very well and immediately opened her chocolaterie without regard to Lent. This was very off-putting to the townspeople. She was considered a temptress, but in reality, all she wanted to offer was delight through her confections. It was an uphill battle for Vianne, but eventually her charm and her chocolate won the Village over and “La Celeste Praline” was beloved in Lansquenet ever after.
“Chocolat” movie clip: Vianne sets up shop…watch for the ‘Nipples of Venus’, hers are dark brown with white nips. ♥
Vianne is one of my culinary seductress heroines. Her story is the inspiration for the “Nipples of Venus” recipe I tested this weekend. It is an old recipe and incorporates old methods of preparation. I stayed true to it, hoping that the “old time magic” would still work in these modern days. It helped curb my chocolate obsession and I put the little confections to work in New York City. We’ll see what unfolds.
These exotic stories and mysteries of the cacao plant continue to fascinate and inspire romance and pleasure. Indulge in a little chocolate hedonism. After all, August is national romance awareness month… if you need a reason to let a delicious bit of heaven melt on your tongue.
To your sensual appetite,
Honey L’Amour, a culinary seductress
NIPPLES OF VENUS
- 12 ounces of Ghirardelli 60% Cacao chocolate, chopped
- 12 ounces of Lindt white chocolate, chopped
- 16 ounces canned whole chestnuts, drained
- 6 tablespoons butter, softened
- ½ cup white sugar
- ¼ cup of brandy
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla bean paste
- 1 dash of pink concentrated gel icing color
- 1 dash of Christmas red concentrated gel icing color
- Place the dark chocolate into the top part of a double boiler over simmering water, and let the chocolate melt. Turn off the heat and let the chocolate cool.
- Place the chestnuts into the work bowl of a food processor, and process until the chestnuts are smoothly pureed, about 1 minute.
- Whisk together the butter and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy, stir in the chestnuts, brandy, and vanilla bean pasted until the mixture is smooth. Stir in the chocolate, and pipe 1 tablespoon of filling per truffle onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, shape into 1 inch diameters and chill in the freezer. If the mixture is too soft to hold its shape, chill for several minutes in refrigerator.
- Reserve about 1 ounce of white chocolate for tempering, and about 1 ounce for coloring. Melt the remaining 10 ounces of white chocolate over simmering water in a double boiler until the chocolate is melted and warm but not hot. Remove the pan containing the melted chocolate from the double boiler, and add about 1 ounce of chopped, unmelted white chocolate. Stir the chocolate until the unmelted pieces of chocolate melt, and the temperature drops to the temperature of kiss, 80 to 82 degrees.
- Carefully dip ½ of the centers in the melted white chocolate, and gently place the truffle onto a piece of parchment paper or waxed paper to cool and harden, returning to the freezer for about 15 minutes.
- Melt the remaining 1 ounce of chopped white chocolate over simmering water in a double boiler until the chocolate is melted and warm but not hot. Divide in half and stir in a very small amount of gel icing coloring until you get a desired shade of pink and red. Dip a little colored chocolate out with a spoon, dot each the white truffles with a pink dot and the brown truffles with a red dot, and allow the chocolate dots to set, about 15 minutes. Place the truffles into paper candy cups to serve.
*makes 60 bon bons
- Nipples of Venus, Honey L’Amour
- Chocolate Obsession cooking class, Sur La Table
- “Chocolat”, Joanne Harris
- “Chocolat”, movie produced by Miramax Films, David Brown
- “Chocolat” movie clip
- “Stronger Erections”, Men’s Health