There are other holidays that are often celebrated with candy and sweets, but the holiday that has a monopoly on chocolate specifically is February 14, St. Valentine’s Day. We all might be familiar with the tradition of purchasing chocolates or red roses for someone on Valentine’s Day, and that of course is a fine thing to do. However, if you want to step up your game, take note of the very fun Japanese tradition of hand-making chocolates for a special someone for Valentine’s Day.
This tradition takes the sentiment of ‘handmade with care’ to a new level. To understand the appeal of handmade chocolate, let’s first take a look at what your Valentine’s Day chocolate is trying to say. In Japan, Valentine’s chocolates and gifts can be broken into three categories.
1. Giri Choco
Giri choco is cheap chocolate that you might give out to people around you on Valentine’s Day to be polite. Similar to when many were forced to give out little foil Valentine’s Day cards to classmates in grade school, or bringing in a big box of donuts for the office if February 14th falls on a workday.
They don’t mean that you want to go on a date with everyone who receives one, but it is always nice to give a little sweetness to those around us.
2. Tomo Choco
Tomo choco is chocolate that you might put a little more thought and effort into, and chocolate you might gift to friends or co-workers that you are close with. Again, this does not imply any level of romantic interest, but is something nice to do for your friends. This might be more closely related to ‘candy grams’ that many high schools offer around Valentine’s Day where you can send candy or chocolate to your friends and classmates.
3. Honmei Choco
Last on the list is honmei choco and this is chocolate that one spends hours making a day or two in advance, or the night before if you want it to be as fresh as possible. This chocolate is made with your whole heart and with the hopes that when you give this very specific type of chocolate to its intended recipient, with just one bite they will be able to instantly know the magnitude of your love for them.
So, you have someone in mind that you really like and want to give a special gift to on February 14th. Problem is, you are a little too shy to confess your feelings outright to them. This is where hand-making your honmei choco really comes in handy. This gift has to convey a lot of feelings to the recipient, so a lot of planning and work must go into making it.
Hand-making your special gift allows you to customize your present specifically for your special person. This means you can include personal details that you remember about them or that you think are special to them. Nothing says you care like remembering the “little things.”
You can also include unique flavors they might like but could be hard to find in traditional mass-produced Valentine chocolates. You can even adjust for preferences over sweetness and texture. Milk chocolate and white chocolate are good but can be too sweet for some, and of course not everyone loves dark chocolate. Playing around with sweetness or even fruit and floral flavors might be a unique touch that impresses even the toughest chocolate critics.
And lastly, making homemade honmei is good because it shows how much you care about this other person. Anyone with some money can go out and buy chocolate, it takes no time at all. But making your own chocolate shows how invested you are in the potential for this future relationship. It shows that you are willing to put in the work and go the extra mile for your favorite person.
Hand-making honmei choco can be an intimidating task for novice chocolatiers, but it doesn’t have to be. Like with all things, there is an easy way and a hard way. For anyone who has ever dealt with chocolate knows, making chocolate from cocoa beans and from scratch is a very detailed and delicate process. If you would like to give that a try, please go ahead.
However, for everyone else, here are 5 ways to melt chocolate the easy way. Just because it is the easy way does not mean that these chocolates will be any less special!
After you have your melted chocolate, then you need to mold it. That is one of the best parts because it is one that lets you be creative and personalize the chocolate. Many local craft stores or even the craft sections of large stores have an array of candy molds. With a little planning ahead of time you can also order molds in just about any shape imaginable on the internet.
There are many kawaii candy molds to choose from, these Pokemon themed candy lollipop molds are sure to make your special someone choose you. Here are also some My Melody and Sanrio character shaped silicone molds.
Don’t want to make a chocolate based treat, here are some kawaii desserts for some more kawaii gift ideas. Want a more traditional Japanese sweet to give on Valentine’s Day? Try your hand at making traditional strawberry daifuku, a delicious mochi treat with red bean paste and a strawberry.
After you have your chocolate molded, of course you have to box and wrap it. This step also allows you to be creative and personalize it. Many items sold in Japan are made with visual aesthetics in mind. So, if you really want to impress someone with your homemade honmei choco, you have to go the extra step to make sure the box is beautiful and is wrapped nicely.
As nice as it may be to receive perfectly hand made chocolate on Valentine’s Day, we mustn’t forget that it truly is the thought that counts. Try your best, but don’t be discouraged if your holiday gift isn’t perfect. There is always charm in an honest attempt, and at the end of the day a failed attempt can become a funny story.
This is just one of many ways that Valentine’s Day is celebrated around the world. No matter what you do on Valentine’s, make sure you surround yourself with love and enjoy yourself!
Kawaii culture lover since birth, I am beyond excited to share my passion for cute with the world!
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