Valentine’s Day has just passed, and while the cards and flowers are always nice, my heart belongs to the boxes of chocolates.
As an avowed chocoholic, I find something mildly erotic in the discoveries to be made on the inside of a box of chocolates. Starting with the packaging; that smart, elegant tautness of tightly wrapped cellophane harnessing all those goodies within begging to be rent asunder either by ripping it off with all the gusto of a Latin lover or peeled gently to one side to reveal the edge of the box. Some boxes have one of those pull and peel sections that allow a more subtle access like gently tugging a garter down a stocking.
The whispering rustle of paper promises a tender moment as you lift the lid and sense that first aroma, captivated and held prisoner since the day it was wrapped, now free to assault the olfactory nerves and increase the expectations to come.
Finally, the reveal; lifting back the lid and that first layer of petticoat-like, thin, corrugated paper corseting the beautiful matte, smooth shapes below. Brown can be so intoxicating a color, accentuated by the nubile shapes sitting so pertly in their very own compartments beckoning to be picked one before the other. Milk chocolates sitting suavely persuasive with raised lines to improve the textured look in circles or squares. Or dark chocolates sitting by their side, shinier and bolder-looking, boisterously boasting what might be secreted within.
Where do you start? Put away that little pirate’s map of where the treasures are – that’s cheating. Let the shapes and suggestive bulges lead you into temptation and tease.
A Russian caramel to get the juices flowing, dark and square with a teardrop swooped over the top prodding you to despoil the perfect layout. As the outer coat melts smoothly away there is an initial protest against the bite but soon gives way to an unctuous, oozing, sweet, almost cloying embrace with your tongue. You can make this first caress last as long as you can or move right along to make the next selection.
Something a little more solid on the tooth, perhaps. A Rubinesque almond enrobed in coffee cream – surely the best of both worlds. The nut slithers out of its robe to be nibbled, gently at first but then with more urgency in a satisfying grind of munching molars. The coffee cream lubricating the experience as chocolate’s favorite bedfellow.
On to French nougat, that naughty nutty chew that taunts the taste buds, three slashes across the top of the oblong confection show no real evidence of the fruitful flavors locked inside to be swirled around till it dissipates into your mouth coquettishly leaving little reminders of its presence as you chase the crumbled nuts around.
The dark round bosom of a strawberry crème beckons to be popped right on top of the tongue and rudely crushed against the roof of your mouth, squishing the luscious contents everywhere. What a delightful delectation full of spring like promise, sweet and tart all at once – pure decadence.
So goes the seduction till all appetite is sated and spent. Empty paper wrappers strewn around as the only evidence of the encounter. The box now pushed to one side, a once willing accomplice now broodingly waiting till a sweet tooth returns.
One last question remains. A tall glass of cold milk or a snifter of double oaked bourbon?