With its reputation for decadence, sensuality, and romance, chocolate is an historically effective wingman. Its popularity has left culinary-minded lovers with a plethora of options, which can often feel like an embarrassment of riches as you gaze at shelves and shelves of chocolatey choices.
• Unsweetened (“baking”) chocolate is unadulterated by butters or sweeteners. Trust me, it doesn’t taste that great straight up.
• Dark chocolate is cocoa mixed with fat and sugar, and it tastes as good as that sounds. Many dark chocolate bars boast a cocoa percentage on the label, and typically higher percentages are considered more desirable.
• Semisweet chocolate, as a type of dark chocolate, is also cocoa mixed with fat and sugar, but tends to have much less sugar than other dark chocolates. Most chocolate chip cookies are made with semisweet chips, which are great for a chocolate flavor in a dish you don’t want overwhelmed by sweetness coming from the chocolate itself.
• Milk chocolate includes milk products (surprise!) to create a generally smoother, lighter chocolate. Milk chocolate is the ubiquitous “candy bar” chocolate.
• White chocolate contains milk solids and cocoa butter instead of cocoa solids, which disqualifies it as an actual chocolate in some circles.
Then, of course, there’s chocolate fudge, chocolate sauce, hot chocolate … chocolate body paint even ... the list goes on!
Do you own a pet who likes to meddle in your snacks? Chocolate is a dangerous substance for most pets and can even be lethal. If you’re seeking a less risky nibble just in case Fluffy snarfs a mouthful, go with white chocolate: The absence of cocoa solids puts it squarely in the non-lethal category.
Let’s talk about the safety of your other warm fuzzy companion for a moment, too: your partner. Believe it or not, some people are allergic to chocolate, or to specific components used in some types of chocolate.
• Fondue: It’s not just for cheese! Chocolate fondue is a versatile dessert that can be made as decadent or as calorie-conscious as you wish: use cubed fruits to keep the carbs and calories down, or go wild with cheesecake chunks, small balls of cookie dough, and croissant wedges. You’ll inevitably drip a little warm chocolate on yourself, and who knows how you and your companion will handle that.
• Chilled fruit delights are inexpensive and easy to make. Dip strawberries into melted chocolate or a prepared hard-shell chocolate dip, spread them on wax paper, and refrigerate or freeze. Drizzle chocolate on chunks of pineapple, then freeze for an after-sex snack. For an especially rejuvenating and enjoyably phallic between-rounds nibble, try inserting a popsicle stick into half a peeled banana and dip into a mixture of melted chocolate and peanut butter before freezing. (Sprinkling with nuts before freezing for the extra protein and giggle factor is optional.)
• Quality can turn plain-and-simple into staggeringly good: A gourmet straight-up bar of chocolate, paired with a very good red wine or an exceptional tea, can be an almost meditative sensual experience.
• Of course, any discussion of chocolate as foreplay wouldn’t be complete without a nod toward drizzling yourself with the stuff! Just be mindful of the sheets, remember that licking anything out of body hair isn’t most people’s idea of fun, and keep the sweet stuff out of any orifices it isn’t specifically marketed toward.