Making Valentine’s Day chocolate…honestly, what the heck? Was anyone else flummoxed by this? I was always tremendously confused as to why people in Japan wouldn’t just go out to buy chocolate like we do in America. Also…”making” chocolate. Like…from scratch? Do you know how hard it is to actually do that? I’ve researched it- without professional cocao bean grinding equiptment it’s incredibly difficult to do in a home kitchen. So why were Japanese tween girls in every anime ever apparently able to do this on their own?!?
For a long time I felt truly incompetent as an aspiring chocolatier. How could I hope to be good when I couldn’t even compete with literal SIXTH GRADERS (Card Captor Sakura, anyone?) in the art of Valentine’s Day chocolate making?
As it turns out, when people in anime say they are going to make chocolate for Valentine’s Day, it just means they are going to melt down existing chocolate and reform it into different shapes, which they would then decorate. It could also refer to making chocolate cookies/cake/pastries. Maybe I’m too invested in this, because I was actually really annoyed to learn it wasn’t any more difficult than that.
But, you know, Valentine’s Day in Japan is a big deal. Girls give chocolate to lots of people- people they like, chocolate for friends, and “obligatory” (giri) chocolate- chocolate for the people you are aquainted with, but have no romantic feelings for- like a co-worker or something. And, as we all know, giving gifts as a symbol of your love or affection for someone can be difficult. I fondly remember my Japanese teacher telling me of the struggle that was giving her crush Valentine’s chocolate- which resulted in failure (poor Sensei). And, of course, chocolate gifts are rewarded with White Day gifts from the guys a few months later.
Gintama, comedy gold that it is, makes great fun of this notion of giving chocolate to others. Kagura gets all torn up about how to give chocolate to Gintama and Shinpachi without having them make fun of her. She asks all of her female friends for advice, which is not exactly the best advice out there.
But, in the end, she gives them big chocolate hearts (Hers is the one in the blue box).
If you want to give chocolate to someone this year for Valentine’s day, there is a really easy way to do it. Sure, you could make truffles, or cakes, or cookies, but you could also just make a big old chocolate heart, in the style of Gintama. The recipe I’m providing below is for beginner chocolatiers. It uses “fake” chocolate, which is chocolate with vegetable fats instead of cocao butter. This makes it easy to heat up over and over, and is guaranteed to harden up completely. Also, it doesn’t need to be tempered the same way real chocolate does, which is essentially a process of heating real chocolate up just enough to melt, but not enough to ruin the structure of the chemical bonds in the chocolate, which will make it soft and not shiny. (Which is confusing, and hard to get right, so don’t feel bad if you don’t understand it.)
If tempering chocolate is something that comes naturally to you, you can certainly use this tutorial with real chocolate instead- the only thing you would do differently is melting the chocolate, which, if you’re using real chocolate, should be done very carefully over a double boiler with a thermometer. But, if you’re just looking for a fairly uncomplicated project, using “fake” chocolate will be the perfect solution, and will result in great tasting chocolate to give to someone you care about!
Check out the video below for a visual on instructions. Ingredients and picture instructions are listed just below.
- 1 bag of Candy Melts
- Candy Melts in complementary colors, for decoration
- Parchment paper
- A spatula or knife for spreading chocolate
1. Using parchment paper or acetate, cut out a heart shape. Lay out a sheet of parchment paper/acetate to pour the chocolate on.
2. Pour Candy Melts into a plastic bowl (plastic bowl doesn’t hold heat- so it won’t burn the chocolate. A Tupperware will work!) and melt according to package instructions, stirring after each go in the microwave.
3. Pour the chocolate onto the big piece of parchment paper and spread it out so that it is bigger than your heart template.
4. Allow to harden, about 10-15 minutes, until the top is firm but it is still a bit flexible when you pick up the corners of the paper to try to bend it.
5. Lay heart template on top and cut around the edges with a knife. Allow to harden completely, 20 minutes or until solid to the touch.
6. Melt contrasting color Candy Melt by placing the melts in a plastic bag and placing in a bowl of hot water until melted.
7. Snip off the tip of the plastic bag and decorate according to your heart’s desires. I, of course, chose to decorate this with the love of my life in mind. *COUGH COUGH CRUNCHYROLL COUGH COUGH* Does this mean I get a White Day gift? #whitedaygift4emily. Let’s make this a reality, guys. *COUGH COUGH COUGH* I mean…what?
Work quickly- if the chocolate hardens in the tip, it will make it difficult to pipe out decorations. In this case, you can pinch the chocolate out of the tip. If it all hardents, switch the chocolate to a new bag and remelt before cutting off the tip to go back to decorating.
8. And now it’s done!! Package as you wish and give to a loved one :3
Learn how to make it here.
Well, well, well. This week I was riding what is colloquially known as “the struggle bus”. I had an entire list of things I could possibly make…lasagna from Mob Psycho 100, gohei mochi from Sweetness and Lightning, PANCAKES from 91 Days!!! I even asked Twitter for some suggestions and got some good ideas for yummy foods to make (thanks @Necara and @thefakiakomis). And yet, I just wasn’t feeling any of them. Too much work to make, or too many ingredients, or too hot to turn on the oven, or too bored to get out of bed…the usual troubles.
To make an troubling situation even more dire, I just started teaching full-time again, which means that I am absolutely SLAMMED with work to do. I already have 105 essays to grade (yes, I 100% am avoiding that by working on this instead) and a slew of start-of-the-year duties to attend to.
LET ME JUST INTERJECT HERE TO SAY: Day 4 of school and the secret anime fan students have started to come out of the woodwork to talk to me about anime MUAHAHAHAHAHAHA. It’s so sweet how they think they’re more knowledgeable than I am about anime. An honest exchange between me and one of my students:
Student: So, what’s your favorite anime?
Me: I think a better question is, how deep are you down the anime hole?
Student: Pretty, yeah, pretty far. *too cool for you head nods and shoulder shrugs*
Me: Are you sure? I’m pretty experienced with anime.
Student: Oh yeah, hit me, I know tons.
Me: Ok. My favorite anime is Mawaru Penguindrum. (Note: One of my favorites. I have favorites spanning genres.)
Student: *sputters* Well, that’s, that’s….why couldn’t you just say Naruto? *starts to walk off* Sharingan! *is almost out the door* Believe it!
Anyway, back on track. By the time I get home, I can barely think straight let alone cook in an orderly and mindful manner. To tell you the truth, I’ve been so busy I forgot to eat breakfast AND lunch yesterday. Then, so determined to stick to my routine, I went out for a run immediately after I got home and almost fell over halfway through from sheer exhaustion and low blood sugar.
Which made me think. Low blood sugar…what other anime character shares the same health condition as me? None other than Gintoki from Gintama! Yes! This is it! This was the answer I was looking for! I’ve already tackled his parfait over on my blog, but I had yet to try his strawberry milk. It was decided I needed to make this milk, and make it now.
So, as some of you may or may not know, I really hate eggs. However, I ALSO really, really hate milk! Kuma-shocking? When I was little, my mom made us drink milk with every meal…but we refused to drink it so she had to flavor it with a little bit of chocolate. But, I’ve never really had just a plain glass of milk, so I was a little nervous to try strawberry milk. I knew it wouldn’t just be milk on its own, but still- besides the time in elementary school when they had strawberry milk once- I’d never tried it before.
Luckily for us all, strawberry milk, made at home, is really yummy and surprisingly healthy tasting, but in a good way. It’s a simple flavor, not overly sweet, not processed tasting- just very fresh and delicious. A serious blend of strawberries and cream. Let’s do this.
AHHHHH!!! No picture this week. I think I accidentally deleted it? No matter, the recipe is beyond simple.
-4 cups whole milk
-1 lb strawberries
-1/2 cup sugar
To Make the Strawberry Milk
In a bowl: Slice strawberries, dust with sugar, stir and let sit for 1 hour.
In your blender, or a food processor: Slice strawberries, pour sugar over top, and pulse together together and pulse a few times to mix. Let sit for 1 hour.
Then, when berries are nice and juicy, blend well until the strawberries aren’t chunky and are a nice strawberry liquid. If you don’t have a blender/food processor, dump your berries out on a cutting board and run your knife through them repeatedly until there aren’t many big chunks and it’s mostly a mass of liquidy-berry mush. Pour this all back into your bowl, including juices.
Then, either blend or stir together with your milk.
Be careful! It gets really frothy if you food process it.
Pour into a glass, and you are done!
Hopefully you can fully appreciate the absolute deliciousness of this milky drink. I can truly appreciate why Gintoki would drink it all the time. It’s fun, a little childish, a little silly, but very, very delicious. Also, surprisingly smoothie-like. I highly recommend as a morning smoothie alternative.
I hope you enjoyed this post! To check out more anime food recipes, visit my blog for more anime and manga themed food. If you have any questions or comments, leave them below! I recently got a twitter, so you can follow me at @yumpenguinsnack if you would like, and DEFINITELY feel free to send me food requests! My tumblr is yumpenguinsnacks.tumblr.com. Enjoy the food, and if you decide to recreate this dish, show me pics! 😀
In case you missed it, check out our last dish: Curry Bread Bowl from “Comet Lucifer”. What other famous anime dishes would you like to see Emily make on COOKING WITH ANIME?
Hello everyone! Sorry for missing a week, it’s been hectic in my part of the world, but I’m back with a great new recipe for you to try out.
First, witness the crime scene:
That’s right, folks. Gintoki’s parfait was cruelly spilled when Shinpachi tripped over the meanie alien-leopards’ foot in the corner. And if we know one thing about Gintoki, it’s to never mess with his desserts.
Here, watch the whole scene for yourself below:
You know, I love Gintoki. I can relate to the guy. He gets low blood sugar, I get low blood sugar. He’s pretty lazy, I’m pretty lazy. He is a bad-ass, sword-fighting demon and I’m…well. Not. I guess that’s where comparisons end. In honor of one of my favorite comedic characters, I have recreated the parfait below for you.