YOU GUYS –
I am about to rock. your. world.
AND your significant others.
I had a hard time deciding what I wanted to make for Valentine’s Day this year. On one hand, I wanted to dig my teeth into something rich and chocolatey. On the other hand, I wanted something light and airy because, well…it is Valentine’s Day *wink wink*! After a lot of broken chocolate cups and failed attempts at making coconut whipped cream, a star was born! Or rather, created. And if there is at least one thing that goes off with a bang this Valentine’s Day, it’s these Berries and Cream Dark Chocolate Cups!
I have a bit of a life update. If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram then you already know I’ve been dealing with SHINGLES for the past week, and at this point you’re likely tired of hearing me whine about it. I’M getting tired of hearing my own whining!! But if you’ve had the Shingles or know someone who has, you can imagine how absolutely MIS-ER-ABLE it makes you. Like, want to curl up into a ball and die, miserable.
Each day the pain is a little bit different, but I finally figured out how to explain it. Now, everyone experiences pain differently when getting a tattoo, and maybe you’ve never had one, but the pain resembles how it felt to have the needle directly on my bone while getting a tattoo. Ouch.
Every nerve on the right side of my ribcage and wrapped around to the center of my back feels like it is on fire. The BEST it feels is when it’s throbbing, but multiple times every hour I feel like someone is ripping deep-rooted scabs off along the side of my torso. I developed a new symptom a couple of days ago where I get spasms throughout the right side of my abdomen and down my right or left leg. It isn’t as bad as the pain, but having that on top of being in pain is annoying to say the least.
Breathing has not only been difficult because of how anxious the pain has made me feel, but taking a deep breath (especially when feeling shockwaves of pain!) is almost impossible because stretching the skin on inhale makes the pain even worse. And, if the pain wasn’t bad enough, I’ve felt feverish and fatigued with occasional body chills all week. It makes sense given that Shingles lies dormant in nerve tissue near your spinal cord and then activates when your immune system is down.
Tackling My Stress
From what I’ve read online and per my doctor, they don’t really know why Shingles occurs, only that it’s more likely to occur when your immune system is extremely compromised – think HIV patients, chemo patients, the elderly, etc. Why did I, a twenty-something-year-old, get Shingles?? No one is really sure but stress likely played a role in why my immune system was low.
Now, I’m no stranger to the “stress talk” – I’ve heard over and over again I need to get it under control if I want my IBS symptoms to improve and you know, life in general to be better. I’ve always acknowledged I’m an easily stressed person but I never felt like it wasn’t under control. But, let’s be real – if you feel stressed ALLLLLL of the time, it’s your NORMAL and doesn’t feel acute (like, the feeling you get when a tiger is chasing you). This doesn’t mean it’s under control.
Now, more than ever, I feel it’s important I tackle my stress head on and quit acting like this is just who I am. NO, it’s not. Or, at least it doesn’t have to be. Living a healthy life has always been something I’m passionate about, but what’s more important than mental health? You can’t neglect your mental health and live a nourished life. So, I plan to share everything I’m doing to help my mental health. I hope in doing so you, too, can come to living a more nourished life – a life a lot less stressful. That doesn’t mean all of our stressors dissolve into thin air (wishful thinking), just that we learn to accept and deal with them a lot more effectively. LET’S DO THIS – TOGETHER!
Picking the Right Coconut Milk
So, now that we’ve covered the – oh, so sexy – update on my Shingles blisters, let’s get back to this creamy and delicious Valentine’s Day treat!! It may seem a little complicated given all of the steps listed in the directions below but I promise it’s not hard. It only took me one failed attempt to nail this dessert.
The key to successful chocolate cups is to make sure the chocolate is coated thick enough that it doesn’t break apart too easily. The second key is to make sure you get the right kind of coconut milk or opt for coconut cream. Every time I’ve tried to make whipped coconut cream using full-fat coconut milk from Trader Joe’s, it has failed. It just never whips up to that fluffy consistency! I decided to go with Thai Kitchen Coconut Cream.
After scouring the internet, I saw that Native Forests Full-Fat Coconut Milk is also a good option, just make sure to refrigerate overnight before using. Since the coconut cream is already thick and creamy, no need to refrigerate beforehand.
Are you ready to make some dessert?? Let’s dive in!
Berries and Cream Dark Chocolate Cups
- 1 bar of dark chocolate (or at least 3.5 ounces of dark chocolate)
- 1 can coconut cream or full-fat coconut milk (refrigerated if using coconut milk)
- 1-2 tablespoons powdered sugar (start with 1 tablespoon and test to see if that is sweet enough for your liking)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Assorted berries
- Start by placing a medium sized bowl in the freezer.
- Melt ½ of your chocolate, either in a double boiler over medium heat, or as I like to do it - slowly and carefully in a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave. I start with 30 seconds and then do 15 second increments until everything is soft enough to stir together.
- Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners, about 4-5 liners. Pour about 1 tablespoon of melted chocolate into each cupcake liner. Using the basting brush, brush the chocolate ¾ of the way up the sides of each cupcake liner and make sure none of the cupcake liner is peeking through the chocolate on the bottom.
- Place the chocolate lined cupcake liners in the freezer until hardened, about 10 minutes. While freezing, go ahead and get the second ½ of your chocolate bar melted.
- Once the chocolate cupcake liners have hardened, take them out and proceed to do the exact process with the second batch of melted chocolate. The goal is to make the chocolate cups thick enough so that they don't break apart when you attempt to take them out of the cupcake liners.
- Place back in the freezer to harden.
- Take your bowl out of the freezer and carefully scoop out the cream from the top of the can of coconut cream. Be careful not to include any of the liquid.
- Using a hand mixer (or whisk attachment on Kitchen Aid), whip the coconut cream until it starts to form peaks, about
- minute on slow-medium speed.
- Add in the powdered sugar (as desired), and vanilla extract. Whip until fully incorporated.
- By now your chocolate cups should be fully hardened. Remove from the freezer and CAREFULLY start to peel away the cupcake liner (like you would slowly pull a bandaid off when you're too scared to just rip it off quickly).
- Place the coconut cream in the pastry bag with the secured tip. You have the option of just spooning the coconut cream into each chocolate cup, but I liked the way it looked when it was piped in using the pastry bag.
- Fill each chocolate cup with the coconut cream and top with assorted berries.
- Eat now or store in the fridge until ready to eat later!
Cupcake liners (paper or silicone)
Pastry bag with #232 tip (optional)
I hope you and your loved one have a wonderful Valentine’s Day! And if there isn’t a special someone you are sharing this Valentine’s Day with, practice self-love and treat yourself to Valentine’s goodies!