The Passionate Palate

Think outside the heart-shaped box for Valentine's Day sweets.

February 09, 2005|By Carrie Lyle | Carrie Lyle,Sun Staff

Chocolate is the food of love -- the romantic's main course -- especially on Valentine's Day. It can arouse passion, steal a lovelorn heart or mend a broken one. It even has benefits (perhaps bittersweet) for those who find themselves alone on Valentine's Day: With its mood-enhancing chemical compounds, chocolate can make people happier.

The couple behind the area's newest chocolate shop know about love and chocolate. Benjamin Hauser and fiancee Jennifer Weber opened Glarus Chocolatier in Timonium in December. Using a "slower, back-to-the-roots way of chocolate making" learned from Hauser's father, a master chocolatier, the pair create handmade chocolates of the sort found in Swiss candy shops 50 years ago.

Hauser and Weber are passionate about their confections, which they make on-site with raw Swiss chocolate and only natural ingredients. The chocolates -- nine varieties of fresh cream truffles and nine assorted chocolates -- are displayed in gleaming glass cases and packed fresh for customers.

"We feel so confident that people will discover again what chocolate is all about," Weber says.

And what better time than Valentine's Day? But don't shove just any old heart-shaped sampler at your sweetie. Be creative, and you'll find just the chocolate treat to melt that special someone's heart.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

FOR THE TRUE ROMANTIC

Think of it as seduction on a plate. Start with champagne and roses, wrapped in truffles. Add strawberries dressed up in chocolate and throw in a piquant twist with some exotic spices.

Your love won't be able to resist Gatsby & Daisy champagne truffles from Vosges Haut Chocolat (left), made with dark or white chocolate and garnished with rose petals. $25 for a 9-piece box, www.vosges chocolate.com or 888-301-YUMM.

Pair them with strawberries dipped in white and dark chocolate from A. Kirchmayr Chocolatier, 9630 Deereco Road, Timonium. Seasonally priced, available 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. this Sunday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday. 410-561-7705.

Finally, explore exotic flavors such as Zinfandel-Balsamic or Passion Fruit with truffles from B.T. McElrath Chocolatier (bottom). $17 for a 9-piece box, www.btmcelrath.com or 612-331-8800.

FOR THE HEDONIST

Chocolate, layered with chocolate, covered with more chocolate. This torte is a truly decadent dessert for those who are devoted to all things chocolate, and it's artistically presented as well.

Visit Bonjour bakery at 6070 Falls Road and pick up this chocolate mousse torte for two, with layers of mousse and chocolate ganache and chocolate curls, for $14. 410-372-0238.

FOR THE BIG SOFTIE

Give your amour a cozy chocolate hug with a mug of lush, velvety hot chocolate. Don't be afraid to get mushy; toss in some heart-shaped marshmallows to hint at your tender feelings.

Try Dark Chocolate Truffle Hot Cocoa from Godiva, $10 for 17.4 ounces, with Sweet Heart Marshmallows from Williams-Sonoma, $8.50 for 5.3 ounces.

FOR THE PURIST

Your lover's body is a temple -- treat it that way. They're not high-fiber, but these chocolates contain little to feel guilty about. Glarus Chocolatier uses only natural ingredients in its traditional Swiss confections. "We're very strong believers in being able to pronounce what's in your food," says co-owner Jennifer Weber.

Clockwise from top: Dark chocolate molded hearts, cherry cordials in Kirsch brandy, assorted truffles and almond lace. Prices vary. Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at 9 W. Aylesbury Road in Timonium (in the same industrial park as Baltimore Coffee & Tea). 410-252-6601.

FOR THE SPURNED LOVER

A bitter breakup need not leave a bad taste in your mouth on Valentine's Day. Soothe your soul with the sweet taste of revenge. Carve your ex's name into the Chocoholics Chocolate Voodoo Doll, bite its head off and cackle your most evil laugh. No one is there to hear you and you don't have to share a bite. $7.95, www.wishingfish.com.

FOR THE HOT STUFF

Here's a saucy twist for those who don't have a sweet tooth. Fire up that dinner for two with a rich and spicy mole sauce -- made with Mexican chocolate -- over enchiladas or chicken. Try Traditional Mexican Mole Paste from Zingerman's Mail Order, $15 for 8 ounces, www.zingermans.com or 888-636-8162.

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