Getting a box of chocolates may be par for the course during Valentine’s Day, but if you’re a boy spending the 14th of February in Japan, you could find yourself receiving more chocolate than you can count. Every Valentine’s Day, men all over Japan receive chocolates from the women in their lives, from girlfriends and wives to friends and colleagues. But not every chocolate is necessarily meant as a romantic overture, and the type of chocolate you receive may mean the difference between friendship or a declaration of love.
There are two types of chocolate typically given out on Valentine’s Day: giri choco, which symbolizes friendship, and honmei choco, which symbolizes true love. Giri choco, literally “obligation chocolate”, stems from the Japanese concept of giri, which is the sense of obligation and duty that permeates every aspect of Japanese society. Women give out giri choco (usually cheaper, store-bought chocolates) to male friends and colleagues as courtesy or an acknowledgment of friendship. The more romantic honmei choco, which translates to “favorite chocolate”, is reserved for boyfriends, husbands, and significant others. Honmei chocos are decadent and extravagant affairs, with some women presenting homemade chocolates to the object of their affections. The gesture is reciprocated exactly a month later on March 14th, when men shower their valentines with gifts, flowers, and cookies. Known as White Day, this Valentine’s companion holiday is marked by couples outings and white chocolate displays in cafes all over Japan.
Though Japanese confectioneries release hundreds of honmei choco in anticipation of the holiday, it is said that the best honmei choco is homemade. Our favorite recipe is made with a Rikumo twist: food-safe charcoal that makes for an eye-catching and incredibly lightweight treat. Naturally vegan and dairy-free, charcoal chocolate is a delicious treat you can make in your own kitchen from just a handful of ingredients.
Makes approximately 8-10 chocolates .
½ Cup Cocoa Butter (grated)
½ Cup Virgin Coconut Oil
½ Cup Raw Organic Cocoa Powder
4-6 tbsp. Agave Syrup
2 tsp. Cooking Charcoal Powder
1 tbsp. of maca powder or 1/4 cup of whipping cream for a velvety texture.
½ Cup chopped dried cranberries, coconut shavings, pistachios, orange peel, etc. for topping.
1. Place grated cocoa butter and coconut oil in a small heat-safe bowl. Place the bowl in a shallow pan containing a small amount of war (not boiling but nearly) water.
2. Stir the oil and butter occasionally until the mixture is smooth, but not liquid.
3. Stir in the cocoa powder and charcoal powder until they are smooth. If you like, stir in maca powder or whipping cream.
4. Add agave syrup to sweeten as desired.
3. Pour the mixture into a small silicone muffin mold. Add the topping of your choice.
4. Chill overnight in the refrigerator or in the freezer.