Posted by Kate Flora
On Thursday we celebrate the annual Hallmark festival of chocolate…uh…love. For many, this will be a day of met expectations, delightful surprises, lavish bouquets and tiny gift boxes. For others, there will be no ring, no diamond necklace, no box of jewels, flowers, Whitman's sampler, or even a mangy potted plant.
For almost three decades, I've been married to a lovely man who is completely cynical about the Hallmark holidays. He's pretty unreliable about anniversaries, birthdays and Christmas, too. The problem is that he hates to enter a store. For a while, e-bay was the answer. He could log on, spend a little time browsing art nouveau jewelry, and voila…the tiny box would magically appear. But if there's an intense case afoot in his law practice, or he's feeling particularly upset about America's shopping culture, or planning for a climbing trip, or has simply forgotten about the occasion at issue, nothing happens.
I used to let this make me unhappy. I'd feel neglected or aggrieved. Sometimes I'd go through a series of elaborate hints. Later, I just came out and told him what I wanted. But none of that was any fun. Now, if I'm holiday shopping and I see something I'd like, I buy it and have it wrapped. If a significant occasion is coming, I may e-mail him some e-bay hints. And for Valentine's Day, because I am a dyed-in-the-wool chocoholic, I go to CVS or some other candy-vending emporium the day after Valentine's Day and get a huge, gaudy box of chocolates.
(Truth revealed: chocolate tastes just as good if purchased at half-price and eaten a day later.)
To keep myself from eating it too fast, a problem many of us chocolate-lovers face, I engage in the following strategy: I leave the box in the garage. That way, if I want a chocolate, I have to go down two flights of stairs, walk through my husband's office, and cross the icy cold cement floor to get to the cupboard where the candy is stored. Because Valentine's Day falls in February, I can rely on the cold floor. I can also expect that the chocolates will be frozen, making it unlikely that I'll gobble several while I'm in the garage. The risk-averse among us chocoholics tend not to want to break our teeth. I bring my chocolate upstairs, let it thaw, and then have at it.
For Valentine's Day, I ask someone else to fix the chocolate. The rest of the year, I'm happy to make it myself. I keep my eyes peeled for simple and delicious chocolate recipes. Here's an easy one I scored from the Internet that offers many ways of making it your own, varying it with the seasons and the fruits available, or adding in more layers.
If you've got more suggestions, ideas, or tweaks, we here at the Writer's Plot would love to hear about them. I'm sure our readers would, too.
Quick and Dirty Chocolate Trifle with variations:
* 1 (18.25 ounce) package German chocolate cake mix
* 1 (3.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
* 1 2/3 cups milk
* 3/4 cup strong brewed coffee
* 1 (12 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
* 6 (1.4 ounce) bars chocolate covered toffee bars, frozen and crushed
1. In a 9x13 in pan, bake cake according to package directions. Cool and crumble. Make pudding, according to package directions, with milk.
2. In a large trifle or other glass serving bowl, place half of the crumbled cake. Pour half of the coffee over the cake, and spread half of the pudding over that. Top with half of the whipped topping, sprinkled with half the crumbled candy bars. Repeat layers in the same order. Refrigerate until serving.
Substitute crushed peanut butter cups.
Add in a layer of strawberries, sliced and sugared. Pour a little rum or kirsch or other liquor over the berries. Or use peaches.
Add a layer of crushed macaroons and some Amaretto.
Instead of chocolate cake, use pound cake or sponge cake or lady's fingers.