15 Inventive Uses for Leftover Valentine’s Chocolate

istock
istock

The day of love has come and gone, but the mounds of gifted chocolate will remain for weeks to come. Instead of forcing yourself to nibble on foil-wrapped hearts until May (or freezing them until forever), find cool ways to turn those leftover sweets into new treats. The possibilities are endless, but here are 15 ideas to help get you started. 

1. CANDY CHARADES

Valentine’s Day chocolate boxes always have the traditional nougat and creme fillings, but there are also always a few mysteries that no one can quite seem to identify. For candies left over on February 15, gather some friends or family members for a game of charades. The goal: guess which flavor your teammate just ate.

2. CHOCOLATE FONDUE

Leftover milk chocolate plus marshmallow crème makes for one delicious party platter. Simply melt the chocolate, then mix in a 7-ounce jar of crème, ¾ cup of heavy whipping cream, 3 ounces of white baking chocolate, and ¼ cup toasted almonds, plus a dash of almond extract. Serve with fresh fruit or cubed pound cake.

3. CHOCOLATE-COVERED BACON

There is no wrong way to eat bacon, which means that there are numerous right ways to eat it. A drizzle of melted white and dark chocolate is one of those right ways. Many recipes you’ll come across for chocolate-covered bacon are pretty straightforward, and involve just 10 minutes or so of prep time. Refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes, and you’ve got yourself a sweet-and-savory post-Valentine’s Day snack. 

4. LEFTOVER CANDY PIE

Seen more frequently as a post-Halloween recipe, a leftover candy pie (or recycled candy cake) would be the perfect way to consume and share all of those individually wrapped pieces.

5. LAVA CAKE

A warm treat with a molten surprise inside—made of yesterday’s date night gift, of course—is like celebrating twice.

6. POPCORN DRIZZLE

Chocolate-covered popcorn is a delicious alternative to the salty, buttery theater staple that you’re used to, and you can make it as simple or as involved as you like. Simply pop the popcorn, drip some chocolate on top, and start snacking away. Or, add in a few more ingredients like cocoa powder and vanilla, place the mixture on an oiled pan, and bake at 250 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

7. HOMEMADE TRAIL MIX

Good trail mix demands the presence of tasty chocolate. Grab a few other essentials (nuts, raisins, seeds), mix in chopped Valentine’s goodies, and you’re ready to hit the trail (or gym). 

8. SWEET FRENCH TOAST

Treat friends (or that special someone) to a post-Valentine’s Day brunch. The standout on your menu: Chocolate-and-banana french toast. 

9. MODIFIED SMORES

The chocolate component of a s’more is traditionally a bar, but who says it has to be? Break the rules and use whatever pieces you have lying around, even if they have nuts or other added ingredients. You may end up creating your new favorite campfire tradition.

10. CHOCOLATE WASTED CAKE

Another “everything but the kitchen sink” kind of dessert, this cake is pretty standard on the inside (chocolate cake with coffee flavor added). The outside is where your Valentine’s Day leftovers can come in handy: use whatever you have lying around to add some edible flair to the dessert’s surface. 

11. STRAWBERRY HEARTS

Cut strawberries lengthwise, placing them flat side-down, so that the two halves form the general shape of a heart. (Stick a toothpick through the berry to keep them secure.) Melt some chocolate in the microwave (a minute or two should do the trick), then pour over the fruit. Refrigerate for an hour and serve. 

11. BARBECUE SAUCE

Reusing chocolate doesn’t always have to be a sweet endeavor. Experiment with ways to make it add a hint of chocolate to savory condiments, like barbecue or other sauces. If you’re not sure where to begin, great recipes are just a web search away. 

12. FACIAL MASKS

Studies have shown that antioxidants in dark chocolate are actually good for your skin, so melt some down and have a personal spa day at home. Good luck resisting the urge to eat it off. 

13. LIP BALM

Melt 3 tablespoons cocoa butter in the microwave, then add a piece of leftover chocolate and stir until melted. Combine with the contents of 1 vitamin E capsule and 1/4 teaspoon almond extract. The resulting moisturizer is just as effective as the one you keep in your purse (and probably way tastier). 

14. BOARD GAME PIECES

Is your game of Monopoly missing its coveted car or thimble? Does your box of Checkers feel a little light? Grab some leftover chocolate and keep the fun going. 

15. HOT COCOA

If you have access to a powerful blender (plus melted chocolate, espresso powder, vanilla extract, ground cinnamon, and whole milk), you’ve got everything you need to whip up this wintertime staple.

10 Delicious Facts About McDonald's Shamrock Shake

McDonald's
McDonald's

Many people overdo it with the drinking on St. Patrick's Day, but it's not always Guinness or Jameson that gets them into trouble. Sometimes it's the Shamrock Shake, McDonald's uniquely green and often elusive seasonal treat. Here’s the skinny on the 660-calorie indulgence.

1. The Shamrock Shake wasn't originally known as The Shamrock Shake.

The original name of the cult classic milkshake was slightly less alliterative. It was called the St. Patrick’s Day Green Milkshake. Catchy, no?

2. The Shamrock Shake is a charitable endeavor.

What does the Shamrock Shake have to do with the Ronald McDonald House and the Philadelphia Eagles? Everything, according to the fast food giant. When Eagles tight end Fred Hill’s daughter was being treated for leukemia in 1974, Fred and his wife spent a lot of time in waiting rooms and noticed many other emotionally depleted families doing the same. He thought it would be healthier for families if they had a place to call home while their children were being treated, so he used his football connections to get in touch with a local advertising agency that did work for Mickey D’s. They agreed to give profits from the Shamrock Shake toward a home near the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, which ended up becoming the first-ever Ronald McDonald House.

3. Uncle O'Grimacey used to be the Shamrock Shake's ambassador.

Back in the early ‘80s, a fairly offensive character named Uncle O’Grimacey was used to promote the seasonal shake.

4. No McDonald's restaurant is required to offer the Shamrock Shake.

In 2012, it was announced that, for the first time, the Shamrock Shake would be available in all McDonald's nationwide—but not all restaurants have to carry them. Regional managers decide whether their stores will carry the shakes each year.

5. Jimmy Fallon once depleted a New York City restaurant's entire Shamrock Shake supply.

If you’re a New Yorker and you didn’t get a much-craved Shamrock Shake in 2011, it’s probably Jimmy Fallon’s fault. When he caught wind that a Union Square Mickey D's had the elusive dessert, he totally cleaned them out—purchasing more than 100 shakes for his audience. New Yorkers were not pleased with Fallon.

6. The Shamrock Shake got an ice cream offshoot (that didn't fare so well).

Despite the smashing success of the shake, the Shamrock Sundae was a dismal failure. Introduced in 1980, it was discontinued after just a year. Apparently people prefer their unnaturally green desserts in shake form as opposed to scoop form. Though this year, they're trying again: in honor of the Shamrock Shake's 50th anniversary, McDonald's is also introducing an Oreo Shamrock McFlurry.

7. There have been many super-sized versions of the Shamrock Shake.

For a few years, a giant shake was poured into the Chicago River to help contribute to the green hue it’s dyed every year. A donation was also made to the Ronald McDonald House.

8. The McDonald's app will help you track down a Shamrock Shake.

Are you one of those unfortunate souls who has to hunt the shake down every year? McDonald's official app can help. In 2020, for the first time in three years, the Shamrock Shake will be offered at all McDonald's locations. If you're not sure of the nearest one near you, the McDonald's app has a full directory to help.

9. You can make your own Shamrock Shake at home.

If you still can’t find a shake, you have one other option: make your own.

10. In 2017, McDonald's engineered a special Shamrock Shake straw.

In 2017, McDonald's unveiled an amazing innovation for Shamrock Shake lovers: the STRAW. Short for Suction Tube for Reverse Axial Withdrawal, the STRAW was designed by real engineers at the aerospace and robotics engineering firms JACE and NK Labs—specifically with the Shamrock Shake in mind. What sets the device apart from conventional straws is the sharp bend in its shape and the three, eye-shaped holes in addition to the opening at the bottom end. The extra holes are positioned in a way that allows drinkers to take a sip of a new layered version of the frosty treat that’s equal parts top mint layer and bottom chocolate layer.

Wales Is Home to the Baked Bean Museum of Excellence

Baked Bean Museum of Excellence
Baked Bean Museum of Excellence

If you don't think it's possible to get excited about beans, you've clearly never been to the Baked Bean Museum of Excellence in Port Talbot, Wales. The site is filled with memorabilia celebrating canned baked beans, but the legume-loving "superhero" in charge of it all may be the most intriguing attraction.

Before legally changing his name to "Captain Beany" in 1991, the owner of the Baked Bean Museum was a Welsh man named Barry Kirk, according to Atlas Obscura. He was born in 1954 and spent the early part of his adulthood working in the computer department of a British petroleum plant in South Wales.

But his life took a much different direction in 1986 when he broke the world record for longest time in a baked bean bath at 100 hours. He fully adopted his Captain Beany persona five years later and began painting his face and head orange. He also started dressing in a gold-and-orange superhero costume. Since then, he's raised nearly $130,000 for charity by performing various bean-related stunts like pushing a can of beans along the beach with his nose. His biggest claim to fame, though, is his Baked Bean Museum, which he opened in his two-bedroom council flat in 2009.

Baked Bean Museum of Excellence.
Baked Bean Museum of Excellence

Visit Captain Beany's home and you'll find more baked bean swag than most people see in a lifetime. His lavatory has been transformed into the "Branston Bathroom," with the British product's logo embellishing every surface, and the kitchen is all about Heinz. The museum also features vintage advertisements, collectible cans, and knick-knacks like a pair of baked bean cufflinks. And if you ever start to feel overwhelmed, Captain Beany will be there as your personal guide in one of his tomato-sauce-orange outfits.

Baked Bean Museum of Excellence.
Baked Bean Museum of Excellence

The Baked Bean Museum of Excellence is technically free to enter, but Captain Beany does accept donations that he gives to charity. You can visit the Port Talbot institution from Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER