On February 14th, thoughts turn to love…of chocolate, of course. In heart-shaped boxes or coated on strawberries, the sweet brown stuff really makes its presence felt this time of year. But you’ll also find chocolate in places less expected.
Chocolate for your lips only
Ganache for Lips, based in Berkeley, California, offers a line of all-natural gourmet lip balms that contains real Scharffen Berger Chocolate. The company started in 2003 in the kitchen of creator and owner, Patricia West, who notes that all nine flavors are made without artificial flavors or colors and contain no petroleum products. She’s also proud that her company does no animal testing.
The nine flavors include Chocolate Mint (the original and still best seller), as well as Chocolate Mousse, Chocolate Hazelnut and Mocha Latte. We sampled the Chocolate Mint and Chocolate Hazelnut flavors and found them creamy and quite luscious, with an adult chocolate flavor. But the taste and aroma kind of makes you crave some chocolate you can actually sink your teeth into.
Where did West get the idea of using chocolate in lip balm? â€˜Kind of a lark, actually,â€™ she says. â€˜I was making a batch of mint lip balm one day and I had this leftover Scharffen Berger chocolate from a recipe I had made with it. I thought Ã¢â‚¬ËœHmmm, I wonder what would happen if I put this chocolate in this lip balm.’ And the rest is history.â€™ You can learn more, including where to buy, at their website.
Hershey, Pennsylvania. A February feast for chocolate lovers
This month, the town of Hershey, PA, observes its fourth annual Chocolate-Covered February, a month-long celebration of all things chocolate.
Events include chocolate mixology seminars every Saturday at The Hershey Hotel, with demonstrations on mixing drinks with chocolate flair; five-course chocolate-inspired dinners; and a chocolate cooking school every Tuesday.
One of the more unusual Hershey offerings is a chocolate spa package at the hotel which includes a whipped cocoa bath: a foaming, therapeutic bath that has been awarded a United States patent (US 6,753,303 B2) for its one-of-a-kind visual and sensual effects. They claim the experience is â€˜akin to sitting in a cup of hot cocoa.â€™ (Don’t know whether to say “Yum!” or “Youch!”) For more information on Hershey’s Chocolate Covered February, you can link up here.
Chocolate, the Tour
If you’re really a chocolate aficionado, you may want to check out Chocolate, the exhibition, now on a national tour. The exhibit, which traces the complete history and culture of chocolate, was developed by The Field Museum in Chicago. It is currently on display at the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland, Ohio, now through May 4th, followed by stops in Dearborn, Mich., and Indianapolis, Ind.
The exhibit begins in a rainforest with the unique cacao tree whose seeds started it all. Visitors will witness the ancient Mayan civilization of Central America and discover what chocolate meant nearly 1,500 years ago, then travel forward in time to the Aztec civilization of 16th-century Mexico, where cacao seeds were so valuable they were used as money.
The exhibit explores the plant, the products, and the culture of chocolate through the lenses of science, history, and popular culture. For details on the exhibition tour, you may visit their website.
No word on whether you get to taste the confection of our affection during this exhibit, so you may want to purchase a Hershey bar on your way to the exhibit. Better yet, try our Food Channel recipe for Chocolate Glaze, which is absolutely superb on cookies and many other delightful desserts.