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Food Eyeswoon Kitchen:

A Spicy Passion for Chocolate

Photography by Sarah Elliott

Who wants to play a little swoony, spicy game? The best part about this game is you win either way! I challenge you to sample this chocolate- and spicy aphrodisiac-infused cup of cocoa with your lover and see whether the lore holds true…or if it’s just in our minds.

Going back in time for centuries, urban legend claims certain foods and substances have aphrodisiac properties. Named for the goddess Aphrodite, the dictionary defines an aphrodisiac as a food, drink or substance that increases sexual desire.

So let’s turn our attention to chocolate. To be sure, there are not many foods people feel as passionate about. The mere thought of chocolate for some can produce a significant pleasurable response. The ritual, the aroma, the intoxicating taste…it is without a doubt sensual. Plus, dark chocolate has been proven to increase dopamine levels, which induce feelings of pleasure.

The dictionary defines a chocoholic as a person who craves chocolate choc(olate) + (alc)oholic. And the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus gave the cocoa tree its scientific name, Theobroma cacao, which means “food of the gods.”

Indeed, since chocolate was first introduced by the Aztecs, people have considered it a nourishment of the gods. Early explorers proclaimed a feeling of well-being accompanying its consumption. And the Mayan ruler Montezuma was said to drink 50 cups of cocoa a day before entering his harem.

Well I don’t know about you but I am igniting my Mayan explorer role of sorts this Valentines Day and swapping out the wine for some spicy hot cocoa on my bedside, (ha!). Okay, perhaps a bit of both – a winning combo!

This recipe infuses a hint of spicy chili, known to raise your heartbeat. It also includes an aromatic hint of cardamom, which is a stimulant.

Combined, all of these properties are meant to excite our taste buds and increase our sensory pleasure – but the greatest aphrodisiac of all is your mind. Have fun this Valentine’s Day, and stay inspired!

Spicy Hot Chocolate

Sarah Elliot


  • 2 tablespoons chocolate, chopped (we used Mast Brothers Vanilla Chocolate)
  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 green cardamom pods muddled
  • 1 pinch ground ginger
  • 2 pinches of cayenne pepper (more depending on your heat tolerance)
  • 1/2 tsp Chile Ancho
  • 1 tablespoon cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

The Prep

  1. In a small saucepan, heat milk and cardamom pods over medium-low heat. Let simmer for 10 minutes. Add ginger, cayenne pepper and chile ancho.
  2. Heat butter and chocolate in another saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir until smooth.
  3. Whisking, add hot milk in a steady stream. Whisk in cream then remove from heat and strain cardamom pods. Stir in vanilla and serve immediately.
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