Ingredients for love include chocolate
By Sara Hill
For the Salisbury Post
Love is the most exciting, tingliest, sweetest, most satisfying, confusing, helpless, most wonderful feeling in the world. It has populated a planet, wars have been fought over it, men and women search for it, children need it, poets write of it and preachers and priests talk of it.
Yes, I am a true romantic. My husband and I began our relationship writing letters and poetry to each other. I lived in Salisbury and he in Tampa, Fla. In 1814, Lord Byron, an English poet, wrote to Annabella Milbanke, his wife to be: “My Heart, we are thus far separated, but after all, one mile is as bad as a thousand which is a great consolation to one who must travel six hundred before he meets you again.”
For romantics, love is a necessity — like air, water and food. It gives you that warm, fuzzy down-to-the-toes feeling you get when your husband puts his arms around you and whispers, “Don’t you just love, love?”
Oh! Did I mention food? Haven’t you heard that food has often won many a reluctant suitor by way of the stomach? My mother was a great cook and a beautiful woman with auburn hair. I never asked Daddy if her cooking was what won him and brought them together, but here we are — six children later and we all seem to be fairly good cooks. Love is powerful, no matter what route it takes to get to the heart.
Since ancient times, the lonely and the lovelorn have sought out potions to excite feelings of love in objects of their affections. Many of these potions involved food that can be found in the grocery stores or in your own garden. In the 15th century a book called “The Perfumed Garden of Sensual Delight” suggested that those looking for love should eat 20 almonds and 100 grains of pulverized pine tree heavily covered with honey just before going to bed and this would make a person more attractive. Maybe 100 pine nuts would be more to my liking. Pine nuts contain lots of zinc which some believe will turn the tame into a tiger. And what about those oysters? They’re also full of zinc. Hippocrates, a Greek physician, recognized honey for its ability to stimulate desire.
Herbs also have a reputation for helping love along. It is said that rubbing thyme on your skin will certainly attract a sweetheart. Or if you want him to pop the question, sneak a little borage into his drink to give him courage.
Of all the herbs, basil is among the most popular. Tuck a little basil in your undergarment drawer. It is said the scent drives men wild. Well, maybe if you’re Italian — or crazy for Italian food. Better yet, serve it for dinner. Make a love potion from basil, garlic and pine nuts. Pesto! Just a little of this on Cupid’s arrow and he doesn’t stand a chance.
Simple recipe for pesto
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 cloves garlic
2 cups basil leaves
1/3 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
(Italians have long considered cheese an aphrodisiac.)
In a food processor or blender, chop the pine nuts and garlic. Add basil and chop until lightly blended. Slowly add olive oil. Stir in cheese. Serve on pasta or with crackers.
My niece, Hannah, stuffed shells with 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese, 2 large tablespoons pesto with olive oil and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Love, love, love.
Stimulating those feel-good endorphins to set the heart racing can also be found in ginger, pumpkin pie spices, vanilla, jasmine, rosewood, garlic and chili peppers.
Let’s talk chocolate. Guess you thought I’d never get around to it. The Aztec ruler Montezuma was said to have mixed chili peppers with a chocolate drink before visiting his concubines. Dark chocolate contains chemicals like serotonin that make us feel good.
I asked my husband George what his favorite dessert is. I knew it was chocolate pie. Her prefers pie over cake. But he qualified his answer with, “But I really love barbecued ribs.”
Try these two chocolate pies and serve to your special someone on Valentine’s Day, any day or every day you want them to feel loved.
French Cloud Chocolate Pie with Raspberry Sauce
(Make the pie early in the day. Do not make the day before serving)
Crust – 2 egg whites, room temperature
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
4 ounces German sweet chocolate, broken in pieces
3 Tbsp. water
1 pint whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
5 Tbsp. sugar
Garnish (optional or serve with Raspberry Sauce or fresh fruit)
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Beat egg whites with an electric mixer until very stiff peaks form, then add sugar and blend well until sugar has dissolved. (Test by rubbing some of the mixture between two fingers to see if smooth) Add cream of tartar, salt and vanilla. By hand, fold in the pecans. Spray pie dish with Pam or other vegetable oil spray. Place crust in an 8 or 9 inch pie dish, covering the bottom and building up the sides to make a shell. Bake at 300 degrees for 50-55 minutes. Cool completely before adding filling. To make the filling, use a double boiler over simmering water, melt the chocolate pieces and add water. Whip the cream with vanilla and sugar and gently add into the chocolate mixture. Pour into the cooled shell and refrigerate. Garnish with whipped cream and fresh fruit or Raspberry Sauce.
2 cups fresh raspberries
2 cups water
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
2 Tablespoons water
Combine raspberries, water, sugar in a large saucepan; bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour raspberries through a wire mesh strainer into a bowl and discard seeds. Return liquid to pan.
Combine cornstarch and water. Add to raspberry juice. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture comes to a boil. Boil for 1 minute. Cool completely before serving.
Top each serving of any of your chocolate decadence with a dollop of whipped cream and 2 to 3 tablespoons of raspberry sauce. Make a great presentation by swirling the sauce on the plate before adding the French Cloud Chocolate Pie.
All cooks have a favorite, quick, chocolate pie recipe. This one is easy, delicious, one of my favorites and served quite often at the Wednesday night dinners at First United Methodist Church. It’s also in our church cookbook.
Danny Hunt’s Chocolate Pie
1/2 (4 Tbsp.) stick margarine
1 package German Chocolate (4 oz.)
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 9 inch pie shell
Heat margarine, chocolate and milk until smooth. Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla. Add to chocolate mixture. Pour into 9 inch pie shell and bake at 325 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes until center of pie is set.
Spread a little love today. Make a chocolate pie.