Chocolate and Cheese:
Drippy, Gooey, Sexy
Chocolate is better than sex,” Dame Elizabeth Taylor is said to have said. She, with a succession of physical maladies and addictive problems, found chocolate to be a good substitute for several of her passions.
Chocolate wasn’t always so fashionable. Before the fad for health and wealth through chocolate arrived, Americans were stuck with Baker’s, Hershey’s and See’s, while truffles grew only in the ground in exotic places.
But gradually, over the years, we have been given permission to actually enjoy chocolate, nearly sin-free. “Chocolate is one of those hidden pleasures in the closet,” says Alexis Handelman, of ABC Baking in Napa, except that the closet door is now wide open.
Researchers at the University of Milan surveyed 163 Italian women to find out the parallels between their chocolate consumption and their sexual activity. The results showed that women who ate chocolate every day had significantly higher sexual desire than women who didn’t. And now doctors prescribe it for our health.
According to Aztec mythology, chocolate was an aphrodisiac (a word derived from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love) and women were forbidden to eat it, while both the Aztecs and the Mayans celebrated chocolate’s properties with festivals. In the 15th century, monks were not allowed to indulge in chocolate because it was believed to stimulate sexual desire. Madame du Barry, Louis the XV’s mistress, supposedly served hot chocolate to her lovers before she allowed them to enter her bedroom. And whether or not chocolate qualifies as an aphrodisiac, it sure makes us feel good.
Chocolate’s melting point is just below human body temperature, which is why it melts in your mouth, in your pocket, on the seat of your car, and that’s why M&Ms are coated with sugar so they don’t melt in your hands.
On the cheese side of the quotient, brie and camembert cheeses reach their gooey, drippy, sexy stages at a mere room temperature, perfect for intimate servings with chocolate in many forms.
Try a room temperature or slightly oven-heated brie or camembert, oozing with creamy cheesy goo, with slightly melted chocolate dripping over the edge of every bite. Serve it to your partner or spouse, ever so carefully and slowly, and see what happens.
Betty Kelly, co-owner with daughter Caroline of Wine Country Chocolates in Glen Ellen’s Jack London Village, turns out truffles usually made from a blend of Guittard and ScharffenBerger chocolates in their tiny kitchen, visible through a window from their tasting room. The Kellys specialize in handmade truffles made fresh every day and flavored with wine, honey, pumpkin or just about any mousse or ganache filling you can think of.
Kelly says they have served crostini topped with a slice of brie and fresh strawberry slices, drizzled with chocolate Balsamic vinaigrette. Or thin slices of salty, nutty Parmesan cheese drizzled with dark chocolate after dinner with a glass of port.
Jacquelyn Buchanan, director of culinary development at Laura Chenel Chèvre of Sonoma, where some of the best goat cheese in the country comes from, shares a recipe combining goat cheese and fine chocolate to make one-bite stimulants.
Laura Chenel’s Chèvre Chocolate Truffles
4 ounces Laura Chenel’s Chef’s Chèvre or log
6 ounces fine-quality semi-sweet chocolate (72 percent cacao)
1/4 cup agave nectar or mild-flavored honey
1 tablespoon Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur)
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
Unsweetened cocoa powder for coating
Special equipment: 1-inch paper candy cups
In the top of a double boiler or a bowl set over a saucepan of gently simmering water, melt the chocolate, stirring gently until it is smooth. (To melt the chocolate in a microwave use a low power setting, microwave for 30 seconds, then stir. Repeat until the chocolate is smooth.)
Add the Laura Chenel’s Chèvre and agave nectar or honey to the melted chocolate and stir until smooth. Stir in the Frangelico, orange zest and almond extract. (If using the microwave, the mixture may need to be re-warmed. Transfer the mixture to a glass baking dish and refrigerate 2 hours or place in the freezer for 30 minutes.
Using a small ice cream scoop, melon baller or spoon, shape the mixture into 3/4-inch rough rounds. Place truffles on a plastic wrap-lined plate or platter. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Working quickly while truffles are cold, shape each round into a smooth ball by rolling it in the palms of your hands. Drop into cocoa powder and roll to coat. Place each finished truffle in a paper cup. Cover and refrigerate until serving.