Long before science told us that chocolate releases chemicals in the brain similar to those released when we’re in love, we knew it intuitively. The connection between love, chocolate and Valentine’s Day is a time-honored one, but it’s not nearly as ancient as cocoa itself. Chocolate is a true American original, a plant native to this continent. Long ago, pre-Columbian peoples were cultivating and consuming chocolate, Aztec for “hot liquid.” That was the way Aztec Emperor Montezuma, born around 1480, liked it: as a scalding hot unsweetened beverage, hot not only in temperature but chile-hot. Like other Native American plants including chiles, tomatoes, corn, potatoes and most types of beans, chocolate is now loved worldwide.
Molten chocolate cake, a hot dessert kiss with a warm, hidden gush of thick chocolate liquid in its core, was first popularized by well-known chefs in high-end restaurants. From there, its fame spread. With its slightly crisp edges and oozing center, it has elements of mousse, custard and soufflé: in short, it’s one of a kind. This take on a molten cake brings the old flavor combination of chocolate with just a little chile heat into the present. Serve it to your Valentine, and you’ll discover a whole new way to swoon.