Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My Guilt-Free Chocolate Bliss for Valentine’s Day from Cleo Coyle

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, I thought this recipe might just hit the spot. (Possibly more than one.) Why? Served with coffee, tea, espresso, or cocoa, this elegant treat has very few calories (fulfilling my guilt-free claim) yet it has lots of amazing flavor. The way you consume this dessert is pretty darn sensuous, too, and all three ingredients have long been considered aphrodisiacs…

CHOCOLATE, of course, is the classic Valentine’s Day consumable. The Aztecs were probably the first to make the connection between amorous feelings and the cocoa bean. The emperor Montezuma was said to have fueled his romantic trysts by ingesting large amounts of the bean.

CINNAMON is a delightful, fragrant, and stimulating spice. The Romans believed cinnamon was an aphrodisiac. Cleopatra famously used it to arouse her many lovers.

COFFEE AND TEA contain caffeine, which is considered a perk in the department of stimulating amorous desires.

When coffee was first introduced to the Turkish culture, husbands were expected to keep their wives well supplied. If the husband could not provide daily coffee for his wife, it was a legitimate cause for her to divorce him. Fair enough since a wife's ability to make coffee was one of the ways a husband decided whether she was a good match for marriage.

So what is this dessert that combines chocolate + cinnamon + coffee (espresso or tea). I'll tell you...


Cleo Coyle, who goes
loco for mocha, is author
of The Coffeehouse
Okay, this recipe is stupidly easy. It's more of a “process with tips” than a recipe. I thought it would be easy to write up. Wrong! This is one of the longest recipes I've ever written! But I wanted you all to have enough tips to make this easy and foolproof. (There are far too many ways to muck up the melting of chocolate and the dipping of things in it...so I hope all the directions help.)

I came up with this idea when I finished baking a batch of chocolate chip cookies and had about ½ cup of extra chips. I saw the cinnamon sticks on my shelf and decided to chocolate-coat them, just a fast, fun way to use the extra chips. That evening, I served the chocolate-covered cinnamon sticks with our after-dinner coffee, receiving happy compliments and quite a few kisses from my Valentine. I hope you all receive the same!


Start with selecting your favorite chocolate. What kind of chocolate? Because no sugar is added to this very basic recipe, I prefer using a chocolate that has sugar in it such as white, milk, semi-sweet, or Mexican.

If you like dark chocolate, by all means use it. Just taste it first and make sure the flavor is good naked, without additional ingredients added. A bittersweet chocolate (one with a very high cocoa percentage) may be delicious in a cake, cookie or pudding, but remember that you're adding sugar to those recipes. To many people, dark (or baking) chocolate with little or no sugar added will taste too bitter for this recipe.


12 cinnamon sticks (the longer the better)
1/2 cup chocolate chips (or about 4 ounces of block chocolate, chopped)

Step 1 – Prepare drying area: When the chocolate-covered sticks are wet, they’ll drip melted chocolate (obviously). So you'll need to prep a safe area for the sticks to dry. Here are two methods: (A) egg carton and (B) wax paper...

A. Egg carton method – Remove the top from an egg carton. Place it on a large dish. Using a knife, make a small incision in the carton top. To make sure the incision is large enough, insert one end of your cinnamon stick into the carton. Repeat for all 12 sticks. (See my photo below. I suggest you use the carton top only, which is sturdier. The egg carton bottom is tricky and although you see me using it in the photo, the sticks tend to move around more on the carton bottoms.)

Note: The top of the egg carton actually provides more
stability than the bottom. So I suggest you use the
entire top of the carton and forget about the bottom.

B. Wax paper method – Place wax paper over a large, flat dish. The only drawback with this method is appearance. Your chocolate-covered cinnamon sticks will still taste delicious but there will be a funny sort of flat side to your stick. If you want prettier sticks, use my method A (the egg carton). NOTE: If you have no wax paper, do no use paper towels or a naked dish! The chocolate will adhere to these surfaces and your sticks will be ruined. Parchment paper and aluminum foil are better alternatives.

The top stick was made with my egg carton method.
The bottom was made using the wax paper method.
Both of these treats will taste great. The egg carton method
simply looks nicer for presentation. Note also that
cinnamon sticks come in different lengths. For this recipe,
the longer sticks are easier to work with.

Step 2 – Melt Chocolate: Place ½ cup chocolate chips (or about 4 ounces of block chocolate, chopped) into a microwave safe bowl. I use my Pyrex measuring cup.

WARNING: Chocolate burns easily, especially white and milk chocolates, which have more milk solids, so you really need to be careful when you melt chocoalte in a microwave.

Nuke it for about 20 seconds. Remove the bowl and stir (make sure the spoon is dry because moisture will make the chocolate seize up). The chocolate won’t be completely melted yet, but you need to stir it to prevent burning. Now microwave it for another 10 seconds. Remove and stir again. Continue this process until the chocolate is completely melted.

Step 3 – Dip sticks (gee, that sounds funny, doesn't it?): Okay, one at a time, dip one end of each cinnamon stick into the melted chocolate. Allow excess chocolate to drip off the stick, back into the bowl. Spin the stick around slowly until the drips stop completely. Now place the clean end of the stick (the end you’re holding) into the prepared egg carton.

Step 4 – Wait: The chocolate must dry and harden. Give it about an hour before touching. To speed up this process, carefully move the dish (on which you’ve placed either the egg carton or wax paper) into the refrigerator for about thirty minutes.

To serve: Once the chocolate hardens, you're ready to use. Lightly stir the chocolate-covered stick into your cup of hot coffee (espresso, tea or cocoa). Stir only enough to re-warm the chocolate. Place the stick into your mouth like a lollipop and enjoy the taste on your lips and tongue. The flavors of warm chocolate and cinnamon combine with the coffee to create a lovely after-dinner sensation. It’s a deliciously fun and sensuous dessert experience with very few calories. A perfectly blissful ending to a romantic meal.

To store: Once the chocolate is completely hardened, simply place sticks in a plastic baggie and store in your refrigerator.

Valentine's Day,

~ Cleo Coyle, author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

To get more of my recipes, win free coffee,
or find out more about my books, visit me
 at my *virtual* coffeehouse:

Click on the book covers above
to learn more about Cleo's culinary mysteries.


A final, quick note for our mystery reading fans.
The latest Mystery Readers Journal with the theme Hobbies, Crafts, and Special Interests is now available.

The issue, edited by Mystery Fanfare's Janet Rudolph, includes many mystery authors who have guest posted for us over the past year. You can check out the contents by clicking here, which will also give you info on how to purchase a copy (hard or electronic) for yourself.



  1. The perfect Valentine's Day treat! I like that it's guilt-free, too. :) Nice tips for using longer cinnamon sticks...and I like the idea of the egg cartons. These look fantastic, Cleo!

  2. What fun! Love the egg carton idea. I never would have thought of that. And how I love chocolate. Catch my post on Thursday (heh-heh).



  3. Hmm... I think we may be having a theme week here, without even planning it. Chocolate will feature prominently on Friday, too. Can you tell we're all in a Valentine's Day mood?
    Great ideas, Cleo. Love the egg carton idea!

  4. Oh, my goodness!!! Love the idea and the tips. I will be making these for a party this weekend. Thanks, Cleo!

  5. Oh Cleo, you romantic devil you. I'll jump on the chocolate bandwagon, i just made cookies. Picture this, instead of chocolate chips, i made them using chocolate/candy covered coffee beans... You would go nuts for them. Kind of got the idea from your brownie recipe way back when.

    Can I make a suggestion for the site... I would like to see a calender listing of the publication dates for all 6 of the merry murderesses upcoming books. I have to plan my cooking ;)


  6. Replies to...

    @Elizabeth - Thank you kindly for the nice words, and I have to mention that I am really enjoying the posts at your own blog Mystery Writing is Murder. Have a great day!

    @Avery - This was a fun recipe to do. And a little bird told me that your Thursday post will be full of chocoaltey goodness, too. Looking forward to it!

    @Julie - Oh, boy! We can never have enough chocolate recipes on this blog! Looking forward to your Friday Valentine post, as well. Cheers!

    ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  7. Replies to...

    @Harbingerdc - Wonderful! I hope your party guests enjoy them. So little chocolate, so much fun and flavor, perfect with coffee (and for anyone with an oral fixation), so much healthier than cigarettes, lol.

    ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  8. Reply to...

    @Dave - Those candy-covered coffee bean cookies sound like they're off the hook. Really. I'll be right over (okay, so charting a plane to KS might increase my carbon footprint a smidgen, but, hey, they're coffee-bean cookies)! Love the calendar idea. I'm sure my fellow crime-writing cooks would love this, as well -- no clue how to implement. Suggestions welcome!

    ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  9. Whoa! What a winner! Fun and yummy and great for entertaining.

    Thank you, Cleo!

  10. 17 years ago on Valentine's Day Chef Connor made his appearance...what I would have given for this treat after that!!! I think in honor of his birthday and in honor of the wonderful Mr. Nanc we will whip up a batch of these. I bought some raspberry dark chocolate ships this past weekend...they might be the ones ;-)
    Thanks Cleo for a very long but equally easy to follow recipe!!

  11. Awesome idea! I really love this, may have to selfishly make some just for myself!

  12. Fabulous idea!! Adds such flavour and pizazz to hot drinks! Very nicely done!

  13. Sometimes simple recipes are just to fun!!! Love this idea, and perfect combo, chocolate AND cinnamon, YUM!!!
    Take care,

  14. This is wonderful and so easy :). Thanks Cleo, hubby and I will have to celebrate on Sunday as he will be back out of town the 14th and my middle one, Logan has surgery on Valentine's day. I told him since he was missing his party at school I would be his Valentine :).

  15. What a GREAT idea!! I really enjoyed this!

  16. these would make a lovely gift any time of the year! bookmarking this for christmas :)


  17. Wow , I would never think about something like that! Thanks for sharing!

  18. I love the smell of cinnamon. This is such a great idea!

  19. What an interesting idea! First time I see that!

  20. I love cinnamon in everything, so with chocolate , even better. I'm always putting cinnamon sticks in my coffee and chai tea. Thanks for the great idea!