There must be a gene for chocolate addiction. As a confirmed second-generation chocoholic on my father’s side, I am incapable of missing a daily fix. I remember my father, well into his 70’s, solemnly claiming he could give up his hallmark cigars and his pre-dinner scotch, but never his chocolate. I totally agree. My chocolate dependency is so bad that when my travels take me to places with a questionable supply of chocolate, I pack my own.
Sweetest Place on Earth
There are a lot of great places in the world to eat chocolate. Lucky for me, a definition of chocolate heaven is less than a day’s drive away. Hershey, Pennsylvania, the self-proclaimed “Sweetest Place on Earth”, defines a perfectly romantic and indulgent Valentine’s Day. It also has an interesting history. Milton Hershey not only pioneered new production techniques for milk chocolate, but also a new approach to worker relations. What is now a fun place to visit began as a commitment to providing quality of life to his employees.
Hershey built his factory in the middle of dairy farmland, using fresh milk for his chocolate. Maybe that gives the extra edge to the Chocolate Spa, a highlight of any self-respecting woman’s trip to Hershey, especially for Valentine’s Day. The only downside is choosing between the Whipped Cocoa Bath, the Chocolate Fondue Wrap, a Cocoa Massage, or a Chocolate Sugar Scrub. I want it all.
Not Just a Theme Park
There are other reasons Hershey is a perfect romantic Valentine’s Day experience. In winter the Hersheypark is closed and no organized park means no children, or at least very few. (The extensive grounds surrounding the Hershey Hotel are always open for romantic strolls.) It’s the perfect time to take a Chocolate Lab Class, especially the Truffles for Couples, held only in February. Or learn (read: taste) about different chocolates from around the world. It is also the perfect time to experience unique chocolate-infused gourmet cuisine, from a pre-dinner chocolate mojito, to cocoa-seared scallops, ending, of course, with chocolate truffles.
Chocolate Mojito (from Hershey Resorts)
- 1 lime wedge
- 3 fresh mint leaves
- ½ ounce Torani White Chocolate Syrup
- 1 ½ ounces Gosling’s Black Seal Rum
- Club Soda
Muddle (crush using a special muddling tool or back of a teaspoon, the first three ingredients. Add ice, rum, and top with club soda. Stir and push muddled ingredients to the top. Garnish with a spring of fresh mint.
Cocoa Seared Scallops (from Hershey Lodge)
- 2 tablespoons Hershey’s Cocoa Powder
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 1/8 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground pepper
- 12 scallops
Dredge scallops in cocoa rub and sear on medium high heat for two minutes per side.
Chocolate Bread Pudding (from Hotel Hershey)
- 1 dozen croissants
- 1 pound sugar
- 1 pound 64 percent couverture
- 2 vanilla beans
- 2 quarts milk
- 2 ounces cocoa powder
- 16 eggs
Chop croissants. Make ganache out of the 64 percent couverture. Bring milk, sugar, vanilla beans, milk, cocoa powder and eggs to boil; stir in chocolate ganache. Pour warm mixture over chopped croissants; allow to soak for 15 minutes. Grease baking pan and fill 2/3 full with mixture. Bake at 300 degrees in a water bath for 1 hour or until pudding is set. Serve warm.
What Does Valentine’s Day Mean to You?
For me, Valentine’s Day is about romance mixed with fun and fantasy. It’s about being a little old-fashioned and lazily indulgent in an era of fast food, quick text messages and faceless email. I think Milton Hershey got it right. He never gave up, despite early blunders and failures, and eventually created both a business empire and a place for everyone to enjoy. So here’s a kiss to Mr. Hershey—chocolate, of course!