Valentine’s Day in Japan is… well, a bit different. Here, women are expected to give the men in their lives chocolates. For the men we’re not especially close to – coworkers, friends, classmates – there is cheaper giri-choco, known as obligation chocolate. For those we’re especially close to – romantic partners, brothers, fathers, close friends – more elaborate preparations are needed, for these chocolates should be expensive, homemade, or both.
Recently, in a nice twist, girls and women have been giving their female friends chocolates as well.
Men aren’t required to reciprocate on Valentine’s Day. Instead, there is another event in one month, on March 14th, called White Day. That is when men are supposed to return a gift worth three times the value of whatever the woman gave him. Since White Day doesn’t exactly receive the same level of marketing, this is one of those things that sounds very nice in theory.
Being still sort of on maternity leave, I got to forego the giri-choco altogether this year, though I will give some chocolates to the sole student who has resumed English lessons so far (more will in March).
That left R. He tends to pick and choose if he’s going to celebrate Valentine’s Day the “foreign” way (i.e. the way in which most people reading this are familiar) or the Japanese way. I don’t need to be a mindreader or even particularly cynical to know that his decision is based on 1) whether he remembers the day and 2) whether or not he can be bothered shopping in February.
I usually only find out on the day… aaaaaaaaaaaand it seems we’re doing things the Japanese way this year. Yay?
Anyhow, I still made him the above-pictured chocolates and, this year, I managed to pull off the winning combination of them being easy to make, delicious and fairly well-presented. As a reminder to myself next year as well as a note to anyone else who is vaguely interested, this is how I did it.
- Two bars of regular dark chocolate (~ 50 grams each)
- One bar of regular milk chocolate (~50 grams each)
- Cream (~ 1 tablespoon, give or take)
- Unsalted mixed nuts
- One bowl, medium-large
- One smaller bowl
- Boiled water
- Mixing spoon
- Small cups/molds for the chocolate
- One suitable pretty gift box
* The latter two are readily and cheaply available here at this time of year.
- Break up all the chocolate bars into pieces and put them into the smaller bowl.
- Put smaller bowl into larger bowl and pour boiling water into the larger bowl, around the smaller bowl. This is to melt the chocolate.
- Wait. Feed the angry baby. Feed the angry cat. About 15 minutes? If the chocolate still hasn’t melted, replace the water with more boiling water.
- Mix the melted chocolate and add in the cream.
- Use the teaspoon to spoon the chocolate into the cups/molds.
- Put the molds into the fridge to cool.
- When the chocolate has just started to set, press one of the mixed nuts into the top of each. You want the chocolate to still be malleable enough that the nut sets in, but not so fluid that the nut sinks into chocolatey oblivion.
- Leave the chocolates to finish setting (at least one hour, more to be on the safe side).
- Extract from fridge shortly before gifting and arrange in box!