Love Match: Booze and Chocolate

DIY trends come and go, but there will always be something timeless and wonderful about making a gift for someone you love. Here are a couple of our favorite homemade Valentine's gifts involving (you guessed it) booze and chocolate.

Infusing a favorite spirit is a simple project with a huge payoff- fancy craft cocktails at home! Depending on what you're infusing your liquor with, it can take a little time- typically anywhere from one week to a month. You can give a bottle for Valentine's Day that's still in the works, or use ingredients that tend to extract their flavors quickly in alcohol. Try citrus peel, spicy peppers, cucumber, fresh herbs like mint or cilantro, dried fruit, even beets (how about a red beet vodka bloody mary for a Valentine's Day weekend brunch, or breakfast in bed?). Dried cherries in bourbon needs only a week or so, as do dried blueberries (in a neutral-flavored gin?), depending on how strong you'd like the fruit flavor to be. Try adding whole spices or herbs (like cardamom, mulling spices, or black pepper) to make things even more interesting. Limoncello is a classic infusion that takes a bit longer but is well worth the wait. Display the jars on your countertop, and be sure to shake your infusions daily! If instant gratification is what you're after, though, rumor is flavors can be extracted instantly by using a whipped cream maker.            

After you've gotten your infusion together, it's time to make truffles. Mark Bittman's chocolate truffles in How to Cook Everything is a fantastic basic recipe. If you don't own the book, find the how-to here (or try going dairy free!). These truffles are perfect if you stick to the simple recipe and use high-quality chocolate and cream, but can be taken up a notch by adding ingredients like cayenne, a splash of rum or bourbon, coconut flakes, ginger, rose extract, or dried lavender (ground to a powder with a mortar and pestle). Roll the cooled ganache into balls and coat in cocoa powder or chopped nuts, or take it a step further by coating truffles in a hard layer of chocolate. Do this by adding a small amount of vegetable shortening to broken-up chocolate pieces (something like one teaspoon to 8oz of chocolate) and melting it in a double boiler or carefully in the microwave in 10-second increments (adding a bit of shortening helps to create a harder chocolate shell). Pierce the truffles with a toothpick or a fork and roll them in melted chocolate. Sprinkle sea salt flakes, a bit of cayenne, a dried lavender flower, or a piece of candied ginger on top, and place on parchment paper to set. Voilà! Your date will love you for it.

Still looking for a special spot for dinner on Friday, February 14? Skip the traditional reservation and treat your date to a beautiful family-style meal with local and seasonal ingredients in a pop-up event by FIG Catering! Check out the Facebook page and purchase tickets.

Happy Valentine's Day!!

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