Sometimes we like our chocolate straight-up bittersweet, rich, and over-the-top; other times we prefer a subtler cacao hit. Our chocolate-centric, Mexico-inspired Valentine’s Day menu has plenty of Theobroma cacao going on, don’t get us wrong, but it’s balanced with ingredients like chiles, spices, rum, and coconut milk—things that give relief from chocolate’s one-dimensional richness. For drink ideas, check out these cool chocolate beers.
Serve tortillas to scoop up this wonderfully complex pork mole stew. The chocolate-enriched mole sauce isn’t something you can make in an hour, but hey: Tell your Valentine you did all that hard work out of love. Get recipe>>
Bark is one of the easiest chocolate confections you can make. This one, with bits of toffee, pumpkin seeds, and a hit of cayenne, is a great little nibble with goat cheese and baguette toasts. Get recipe>>
A healthy slug of rum gives this chocolate-and-coffee variation on the classic tres leches cake a grown-up personality perfect for V-Day. Get recipe>>
Substituting coconut milk for some of the cream gives hot chocolate a surprising smoothness, plus a very subtle perfume. Add a bit of Kahlúa, and make it into a nightcap worthy of a little romance. Get recipe>>
Photos by Chris Rochelle / CHOW.com