Your guide to the food and culture of the tropics


3 Chocolate Valentine’s Day Recipes that Aren’t Candy

As the world’s most beloved treat and fabled aphrodisiac, chocolate has been at the melting heart of Valentine’s Day celebrations since time immemorial. To help you celebrate lover’s day, we serve up a collection of our favorite Valentine’s Day chocolate recipes. Happy swooning!

Chocolate has come a long way since the days of the ancient Mesoamericans. Over 3,000 years ago in Mexico, the Aztecs and Mayas used cocoa powder to concoct frothy bitter drinks in which only the elite could afford to indulge. Nowadays, of course, chocolate is everywhere. And very good quality chocolate at that. No longer are we just gobbling sugar-laden chocolate down with abandon, or only using it to satisfy our sweet cravings. Our discerning tastes have spawned a new chocolate era where top-quality cacao, coupled with amazing and at times even unusual ingredients, is used with awe-inspiring creativity. Never more so than on Valentine’s Day, the most celebrated ‘perfect match occasion’ to decadent chocolate feasting.

Following are a few delectable chocolate recipes for a most unforgettable Valentine’s Day. From ancient Mexico all the way to your modern kitchen.

Spicy Chocolate Chicken – Pollo Mole

Valentines Day, V-day, Chocolate, Pollo en mole, Chicken

(Photo: Flickr Kurman Communications)

Traditionally, a Mexican pollo mole takes hours of painstaking cooking to prepare, but if there’s one thing which is guaranteed to kill any romantic feelings on Valentine’s Day, is having to slave over a hot stove for hours. So, to this end, we bring you a quick and easy spicy chocolate chicken dish which brings you all the flavors of this incredible tropical dish, minus all the hard work. Top it with freshly chopped coriander and a squeeze of lime and you’ll be in culinary heaven.

Spicy Chocolate Chicken - Pollo Mole
  • 1 pound diced chicken thigh fillets
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 celery stalk, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 3 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp chipotle chili powder
  • ½ jalapeno, seeded and diced (more or less depending on your personal preference)
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (the ‘balsamic’ taste dissipated and a sweet & salty twang remains)
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 cup freshly chopped coriander & 1 lime, squeezed
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin powder
  • ½ tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp red chili pepper flakes
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1½ teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Season chicken with salt and pepper and brown in a little oil over a medium flame.
  2. Once browned, add all other ingredients and simmer, over a low heat, for about 45 minutes.
  3. Turn the flame off and allow to cool slightly before tasting. Only when slightly cooled will you get a feel for spiciness and saltiness. Adjust spices to taste and reheat before serving.
  4. Top with freshly chopped coriander and lime juice and serve with toasted tortillas.

Chocolate Marinated Pork Ribs

Chocolate, Ribs, Valentine's Day, RecipesA luscious marinade of bitter cocoa married with a heady concoction of warm spices like cinnamon, chilli and oregano. Perfect for mouthwatering grilled baby back ribs.

Chocolate Marinated Pork Ribs
  • 2 racks pork baby back ribs
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1⁄3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1⁄2 cup unrefined sugar
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp rock salt
  • ½ onion, grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried mustard
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 tsp allspice powder
  1. Combine all the ingredients except the ribs in a deep bowl and mix thoroughly.
  2. Rub the ribs with the marinade, preferably with your hands, massaging the meat with the chocolate bath for a few minutes.
  3. Wrap the marinated ribs with plastic wraps and refrigerate overnight.
  4. On Valentine’s Day, take the ribs out of the fridge a couple of hours before you want to cook them.
  5. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.
  6. Bake the ribs on baking paper for about 45 minutes. Turn once, increase temperature to 450, and finish baking for 15 more minutes.
  7. Serve ribs with your favorite potato mash & salad.


Bacon & Dark Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes

Chocolate, Bacon, Valentine's Day, Recipes

(Photo: Flickr Patricia Guzman-Moreno)

I first came across the chocolate and bacon combination at a Naughty Nuri’s in Malaysia years ago and never forgot the experience. When I first spotted the sizzling bacon chocolate cake on the menu I hesitated, of course, but curiosity won over and my taste buds were so glad it did. The love affair between crunchy salty bacon and deep dark chocolate is absolutely out of this world. Why not try it and see?

Because bacon!


Bacon & Dark Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes
  • 1½ cups softened butter
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup dark cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1¼ cup buttermilk
  • 2 bacon rashers
  • 1 part butter, melted
  • 2 parts dark chocolate
  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F and grease a muffin tray
  2. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
  3. In another bowl, combine the butter and sugar and cream until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well, adding the vanilla essence with the last egg.
  4. Add half the buttermilk to the egg mix and blend well, before adding half the flour mix and doing the same. Continue alternating until all is thoroughly mixed. Pour batter into the muffin form and bake for 15-20 minutes.
  1. Cook the bacon in a little oil until crispy, remove, allow to cool and roughly dice into small pieces.
  2. In the same pan – and without cleaning it – add the butter and stir well to pick up the bacon grease.
  3. Add the dark chocolate to the pan and stir continuously until all is melted. Mix in half the bacon bits and set aside to cool completely.
  4. Once cooled, whip the ganache with a hand mixture until fluffy and aerated.
  5. Cover the top of each muffin with the ganache and sprinkle the remaining bacon bits over the top.
  6. Serve to your beloved at the end of your sumptuous Valentine’s Day dinner!



Written by

Laura Pattara is a modern nomad who’s been vagabonding around the world, non-stop, for the past 11 years. She’s tour guided overland trips through South America and Africa, travelled independently through the Middle East and is now, along with her partner in love and travel, riding a motorbike from Germany to Australia. Laura moonlights as a freelance travel writer and, between adventures, loves sharing her travel ramblings on her personal website:Laura's Travel Tales