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How to have the sweetest Valentine's Day ever

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First things first: Pop a few pink chocolate balls filled with Champagne in your Valentine's in your mouth and wash it down with a flute of my personal favorite, LaMarca Prosecco, made from Glera grapes from the hillside of Italy's Prosecco capital, Treviso. In fact, any cocoa creation you get at Hotel Chocolat is worthy of the extra calories consumed. Try the Caramel Cheesecakes chocolates at Hotel Chocolat, located at 141A Newbury St. in Boston. These confections are described as classic sour cream cheesecake flavors mingling with a layer of soft caramel. Oh, yes.

For Valentine's Day, Hotel Chocolat is offering Limited Edition chocolates and gifts full of glamour, romance and passion to offer hopeless romantics, chocoholics, and last-minute-gift-buyers an endless selection of sweet and savory chocolate treats. Choose from chocolate-filled hearts, ribbon-tied Goody Bags, hidden love notes and much more.

I discovered Hotel Chocolat during their grand opening celebration of the U.S. flagship Cocoa Bar-Café, where co-founder and CEO Angus Thirlwell flew from England to attend.

Said Thirlwell, “We want to reconnect the world of cocoa growing with that of fine chocolate, and now, cocoa cuisine. Cocoa is incredibly versatile with deep, rich notes. It creates striking flavor harmonies with all sorts of other ingredients you just wouldn't expect.”

Hotel Chocolat's working cocoa plantation in St. Lucia dates back to 1745.

"We’re immensely proud that over 250 years later we are able to bring some of the world’s rarest, most sought after cocoa beans from plantation to plate.”

Long before anyone added a grain of sugar, cacao beans were loved simply for their deep, savory richness. They were roasted, shelled and eaten like nuts, and crushed for use as an infusion, garnish and subtle spice. The menu at Hotel Chocolat is broken down into the following categories:

  • Light + Detoxing (Cacao and Tea) – Raw cacao beans have more antioxidants by weight than almost any other food. Even after roasting they have 150 percent more antioxidants than pure pomegranate juice. The Cocoa Royale (crushed nibs and shells, steeped in a cafetiere) is midway between tea and coffee in intensity. Tea selections are: Cacao Shell, English breakfast + Cacao Shell, Peppermint + Cacao Shell, Green, Oolong, Silver Tip and Earl Grey. Aromatic hot chocolate drinks are Rosemary + Mint and Jasmine + White Chocolate. ($2.50 - $4.50)
  • Good for the Soul (Drinking Chocolate) – Cacao contains Theobromine, a natural stimulant that makes us feel energized, focused and calm. It’s gentle, long lasting and non-addictive. These are offered in variations of: classic, chili, milky, mint, salted caramel, St. Lucia 70 percent (complex), Vietnam 80 percent (fruity), Ecuador 90 percent (mellow). They also offer Chocolate + Fresh Banana, Praline Luxe (classic chocolate and double praline) and The Bombe (classic chocolate, vanilla ice cream, cacao whipped cream). Short chocolate drinks are the Boss-La (short and strong, 70 percent cacao) and 100 percent Cacao (a pure cacao hit, served short). Finishing touches such as Cacao Whipped Cream, Praline Dippers, and Salted Caramel Dippers can also be added to any drink for extra luxury. ($3.50 - $5.00)
  • Energizing + Stimulating – These unique Whole Bean Cacao Drinks are made from 100 percent roasted cacao beans. Just pure cacao, with no sugar, no gluten – and that keeps the benefits locked into their drinks: all the rich antioxidents and minerals, natural feel-good compounds and lots of healthy energy. Whole Bean drinks use roasted cacao or coffee. Barista coffee uses George Howell locally-roasted beans in Espresso, Macchiato, Cortado, Latte, Cappuccino, Americano, Mocha (70 percent chocolate and espresso) and Macho Mocha (shorter and stronger than a mocha). Barista cacao is all of the classics made with cacao beans not coffee beans and is full of healthy stimulants in Macchiato-style, Americano-style or Cappuccino-style. Organic milk is always used and soy is available upon request. ($2.50 - $4.00)
  • Savory Open Sandwiches – Served on a toasted English muffin with nib butter as well as a green salad dressed in cocoa balsamic. Selections are: Local cheddar with Organic Tomatoes, Smoked Salmon with House Horseradish, Vermont Goat’s cheese with Walnuts and House Chutney, Prosciutto Crudo Ham, Crumbled Berkshire Blue Cheese and Walnuts, Organic Cherry Tomatoes and House Chutney ($8.50)
  • Warm Chocolate Plates – Served on a toasted English muffin with whipped cacao cream on the side. Selections are: Chocolate Hazelnut Spread with Roasted Hazelnuts, melted Mississippi Mud Pie slab, sliced Banana with Chocolate Peanut Spread, Vanilla Ice Cream with 70 percent Chocolate, Farmer’s Market Raspberry Jam with Chocolate Hazelnut Spread. ($7.50)

The décor of the Cocoa Bar- Café is designed to mimic its chocolates: refined, elegant and modern. Gray walls surround black shelving and modern fixtures, while reclaimed and recycled wood adds a dimension of rustic warmth. The Cocoa Car – Café provides intimate seating for up to 16 guests, and will double in size from March through November, when weather permits for al fresco dining.

For more information, call 617.391.0513 or visit www.hotelchocolat.com.

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