That ever-popular gift for Valentine's Day is chocolate. While it's a welcome treat, chocolatiers are frequently pushing up the quantity to lure in consumers eager to impress that special someone.
Is the perceived value we get with these over-sized boxes really worth it? They often lead to one of two things, either weight gain from rapid consumption, or collecting dust and being dumped into the trash.
Why let these go to waste or to the waist? There's several ways to make better use of those chocolates elevating them beyond a box of candy. Consider a few options:
- Chop them up and freeze them. While this is the easiest, it opens up a whole range of options later, such as a topping for ice cream on a hot summer day or mixing into recipes. One useful technique is to place the chopped bits on a pan or cookie sheet and place in the freezer until frozen, usually a few hours. Afterwards place them into a freezer safe zip-top bag for storage. Freezing them individually prevents them from forming into a single mass of chocolate.
- Use them in place of chocolate chips or chunks in brownies, cookies, or even waffles! Sources like Food Network or King Arthur Flour are good starting points for recipes, or use your own.
- Combined with a boxed brownie mix, frozen chocolates are a rescue resource for those surprise bake sales or school events. Just mix them into the batter and bake according to the box directions.
- Make candy crescents. Using refrigerated (or homemade, if you prefer) crescent roll dough, simply wrap one chocolate into the center of the roll and bake according to the package directions. Placing a sheet of parchment paper underneath them during cooking makes for minimal cleanup time and prevents sticking.
- Flavor your coffee. Best reserved for solid chocolates or those filled with caramel, roughly chopped and stirred into a hot cup of coffee, they add a rich, sweet flavor. It's a great way to elevate a simple cup of coffee into an after-dinner desert for guests.
It's important to consider the type of chocolates when incorporating them into a recipe. Chocolates filled with liquid or creme centers can have a grainy consistency when heated. Also, watch for chocolate that hasn't been kept at proper temperature; it will have an almost white dusty appearance. It may not perform as well in cooking or melting applications.
With so many possibilities, there are plenty of great ways to make the chocolate last well past Feb. 15. It can make those half-price sales all the more tempting. Much to the dismay of your sweetheart's wallet, next year you might be looking for the larger box.