I have never really been a froofy Valentine’s Day type that expected flower petals in my bathtub, lingerie and perfumes, but I do love a mean box of chocolates! Lately though, a lot of my beloved chocolates have been hijacked. Transfat (disguised as partially hydrogetated oils) high fructose corn syrup (most likely GMO) and even nasty preservatives like BHT have snuck their way into some of my favorite treats. So lately, I have been experimenting with making my own chocolates. I can customize them any way I like—using fair-trade organic chocolates, adding almonds or peanuts for the nut lover, dried fruit, coconuts, or even pumpkin seeds for a big protein boost. Everyone in my family is a big fan of peanut butter cups, hence, my Halawa Chocolate bon bons were born. I had one of those OMG moments while experimenting in the kitchen one cold winter day. Truly, I had an East meets West dessert revelation, acted on it, and came up with the Middle Eastern equivalent to peanut butter cups. Halawa, or Halva, is a popular confection in the Middle East made of sugar syrup and sesame. The consistency is a cross between the inside of a Butterfinger bar and nutty fudge. Halaweh is enjoyed plain or tucked into bread, but covered with chocolate it is taken to another dimension. An added plus– the sesame in the halaweh has a plenty of vitamins and minerals like: calcium, magnesium, iron, vitamin B1, selenium, fiber, copper, manganese, tryptophan (feel good chemical 🙂 Oh, and protein too! Here is my latest video showing how quick and easy it is to make this creamy, nutty, fudgy, crunchy delight:
Now any of you foodies who want to take your honey on an adventurous night out to a pop up restaurant? Innovative sous chef Keven Wilson of Perbacco restaurant has crafted a modern American menu featuring fresh and local ingredients just in time for Valentine’s Day. The dining destination at this pop up is the Naked Kitchen, an underground supper club with communal and chef’s table seating. Keven is an accomplished chef trained in classic French cuisine and wants to share his passion for expertly prepared food. Get a load of this menu:
Sea urchin bavarois; mandarin; fennel; puffed rice
Poached celery heart roulade; pork belly; wild mushrooms; hazelnut
Rye beet raviolo; horseradish ricotta; sweet onion soubise
Squab breast & leg; kale; pomegranate jus
Warm chocolate milk; pistachio streusel
Sunday, February 10th at 6 pm.
For more information and ticket sales, visit
Here are some more foodie ideas for your loved ones not just on Valentine’s Day, but any time of the year! I have compiled some of my sweet favorites from the Fancy Food Show made by passionate entrepreneurs who make their artisanal treats in small batches of fresh ingredients, ensuring the hightest quality. Starting with: Alfajores. I don’t know why these cookies aren’t mainstream. I like to call Alfajores (Al-fa-ho-res) the Latin American oreo cookie. Two buttery soft shortbread cookies with a dulce de leche (caramel like) center. These cookies are popular in Argentina and Peru. The ones here are called Buenos Aires Alfajores, made in small batches using a grandmother’s recipe. They even have a gluten free version that tastes just as awesome as the original. Check em out at www.BuenosAiresAlfajores.com
Mega drool. The below chocolates are actually good for you. Really. I swear. Well, I am not sure about the peanut butter one I sampled, but these guys make Saintly Sins chocolate, which are low calorie, low fat, low glycemic, gluten free, non dairy, non love handles and vegan chocolates. For the Valentine lover on a restricted diet:www.xanconfections.com
I loved seeing the proliferation of fair trade and socially responsible chocolate. The chocolate industry is rife with slavery, and child labor, and companies like New Tree are a breath of fresh air in their commitment to the environment and communities in the Amazon. Plus, their chocolate is off tha chain! Red currant was my favorite, chocolaty, dark, and rich, but not too sweet.http://www.newtree.com/en_us/
You see that piece if peanut butter chocolate below in front of that knife? That was mine, and made my mouth sing happy songs of joy! Their specialty is making small batches of truffle fudge–so rich and smooth and full of flavor you don’t need much to be satisfied. This put Reese’s Peanut Butter cups to shame. This John Kelly dude knows his chocolate. If you give this to a girl on Valentine’s Day she will be yours forever. www.johnkellychocolates.com
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