Almond Orange Chocolate Sticks & Chocolate Dipped Raspberry Lime Macaroons (Gluten Free Valentine’s Day Treats)

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Valentine’s Day screams at the top of its lungs – GIVE ME CHOCOLATE! Despite the fact that I am sugar, gluten and dairy free for 30 days as I try to shed my holiday layer, I L-O-V-E my chocolate. I want to be romanced by all of its subtle complex flavors.

Aromas and flavors are certainly seductive. Tantalized by taste, we are drawn to certain foods and flavor combinations that please our senses. The sensual pleasure that we draw from the aroma and taste of food can have an aphrodisiac quality to it; not so different from pheromones.

There are five foods that are claimed to fall into the seductive category. These five foods are sure to make your lover swoon and if nothing else provide fodder for the start of an intimate discussion.

Eggs- Symbolically this one is self-explanatory. I imagine you are thinking…”Really? Eggs are romantic? And then your mind flashes back to Sylvester Stallone in his blockbuster hit ‘Rocky’. He is drinking a few raw eggs in his morning power drink for some important reason I have yet to figure out. Well scratch that thought. Of course eggs are hopelessly romantic! Visualize sharing a cozy late morning breakfast with your heartthrob when he/she asks, “How do you like your eggs?” This intimate act will not quickly be forgotten.

Cheese- Good cheese is an irresistible delicacy. And it is said to release many feel-good endorphins. Is your lover a cheese lover? If so, putting together a small platter of local artisan cheeses can be a special way to celebrate the day of hearts. Served with fresh fruits, candied nuts and then a drizzle of honey or a jam; the only thing missing will be a romantic bottle of vino.

Almonds- This nut is historically noted as a natural aphrodisiac. It’s palatable powers are said to arouse passion. When paired with berries, chocolate and cheese, its sex appeal is exponentially increased!

Berries- It’s almost cliché how quickly we think of Valentine’s Day when we see succulent chocolate dipped strawberries. They are practically inseparable from the holiday. Not convinced that this category falls into the love pile? Well a berry is defined by the fleshy fruit produced from the ripened female reproductive organ of a flower. >Yes, plant life can be highly sexual. And artists like Georgia O’Keeffe have capitalized on that fact! …Google it if her name doesn’t ring a bell. 😉<

Chocolate- Scientifically proven to release the same endorphins that we release through physical intimacy, chocolate is a no brainer for this list. On many levels, chocolate has the allure of a good bottle of wine.

Homemade chocolates are all the more special. I don’t insist that my confections be fancy, just made with good quality products that make it worth every luxurious calorie as it melts in my mouth, and gently glides into my stomach. Chocolate is a state of mind. It is my favorite cheat and my most coveted stash hidden away in the closet.

On Valentine’s Day I have always been a firm believer in making someone special a great home cooked meal, but lives get busy. And sometimes we have multiple valentines to please; that’s when a batch of sweets goes a long way. And today I have two special recipes to share to make that special someone feel special. Spoiler alert – both are gluten free.

‘Almond Orange Chocolate Sticks’ and ‘Chocolate Dipped Raspberry Lime Macaroons’ (made with no refined sugar) are a simple and delicious way to show your Valentine that you care.

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Almond Orange Chocolate Sticks

Almond Chocolate Sticks Ingredients

3 cups sliced blanched almonds

2 cups (14 oz) semisweet, bittersweet or imported white chocolate, rough chopped

¾ cup heavy cream

1 TBS corn syrup

orange, zested (optional)

Almond Chocolate Slices Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. On a baking sheet, spread out almonds and toast on middle rack of oven for 7-10 minutes until lightly brown and fragrant. Watch carefully as they do tend to brown quickly after 5 minutes.

Line a 8×8 inch square baking pan with wax paper, allowing it to come over edges.

In a medium sauce pan, over medium low heat, add chocolate, cream and orange extract, stirring often until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and add in corn syrup and toasted almonds. Fresh orange zest can be added to the top.

Pour into lined square pan, even out with spatula and refrigerate until firm, several hours or overnight.

To cut, turn chilled chocolate square out onto a cutting board, top side up, and cut into 50 sticks 1-1/4 inch by ¾ inch. Store tightly wrapped in refrigerator.

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Chocolate Dipped Raspberry Lime Macaroons

Makes 12 large cookies

Macaroon Ingredients

2 egg whites (if you have extras set aside, each white is about 1 oz)

2 TBS honey

¼ tsp salt

lime, zested (approx. 1 TBS)

1 tsp almond extract

2 cups unsweetened, shredded coconut

½ fresh raspberries,/p>

Dipping Sauce

½ cup (approximately 3 oz) semi-sweet chocolate

1-1/2 oz unsalted butter

Macaroon Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line one baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.

In a large bowl, whisk together egg whites, with honey and salt until well combined. Whisk in lime zest and almond extract.

In a food processor blend coconut and egg white mixture. Add the raspberries and pulse machine on and off in short bursts until they are almost broken down. Resist stirring the mixture to blend, the raspberries will not fully combine which makes for a much more interesting cookie.

Scoop a bit of the pink raspberry mixture and a bit of the solid white coconut batter together into one-inch mounds. Drop large tablespoons of the mixture onto a baking sheet and form into 12 mounds. Since the cookies do not spread, they can be spaced close together.

Bake until golden brown, approximately 15-20 minutes, rotating half way through.

Allow to cool for 15 minutes before removing from cookie sheet. They will firm up as they cool, but they are softer and less dry than a traditional macaroon.

In a small microwave safe bowl add the butter and chocolate and slowly melt, stirring regularly. (Alternatively, place butter in a heatproof bowl and add the chocolate on top. Melt the butter and chocolate over a pan of barely simmering water, make sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Whisk to thoroughly combine. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes before using. ) Stir well to combine. Dip the bottoms of the macaroons in the chocolate, scraping off he excess against the side of the bowl. The cookies are soft so it is easiest to keep a small spoon handy to gently lift them out of the chocolate. Set the macaroon on its side on a piece of parchment paper or a silpat to dry. Store in an airtight container between sheets of parchment or wax paper.

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