“Chocolate symbolizes, as does no other food, luxury, comfort, sensuality, gratification, and love.”  ― Karl Petzke

This could have easily been said by Joanne Canady-Brown, owner of The Gingered Peach in Lawrenceville, whose recent acquisition of a chocolate tempering machine has yielded some almost other-worldly delights.

“I am so excited about this thing!” she exclaimed about the new machine, grinning like the Cheshire cat.  Oh, the things that she could make… and has!

“This is the season where you can really show off with chocolate — the texture, pairings, intensity and even how you choose to display each variation,” she said.

And, this year, “The Peach” has tackled this often temperamental, but seductively satiating ingredient in a few different offerings. With 300lbs of Callebaut specialty chocolate, the team dove spoon-first into the creative process.

Employing candy molds, they have the tried-and-true chocolate “lollipops.” Featuring hearts in cocoa brown and pink, in varying designs like cupids and the word “love,” this all purpose treat tastefully expresses the sentiment of the day. Their chocolate arsenal has five different kinds, and all of them are delicious.

“Dark, milk, white, single-origin from Peru that boasts a cherry and wine note,” Canady-Brown explains. “We have a kosher parve, which is also our vegan option.”

These chocolate have also been used in some of her more familiar daily fare, making them a bit more special for February 14. The flourless chocolate cake is now heart-shaped and dusted in edible gold dust, dressed up and ready to enchant.

Three specialty cupcakes will be available to woo the undecided heart, as well.  Champagne, strawberry champagne and chocolate chambord cupcakes,beautifully decorated, would go nicely with a nice flute of the bubbly stuff or a bubble bath.  Heart shaped mini cheesecakes  are great for those who who prefer something cocoa free (but why?)

Giving a nod to the global obsession with texting, Joanne and the gang have come up with emoji Valentine sugar cookies

“One of my favorite memories of Valentine’s Day was when I was a kid.  We used to go to the store and buy those sheets of Valentine’s Day cards that you would give out to all your classmates… even the classmates you really weren’t feeling.”

With a nod to that memory, the Peach team came up with a simple, but tasty, sugar cookie enrobed in a “glaze a pour,” kissy faces, winks and hearts come at you in a tasty 3-D form. Message hearts with phrases of love, in four different languages, are also on tap for all your cross-cultural canoodling on this day of love.

Linzer cookies will join goat cheese brownies, their famous olive oil cake, donuts and various bars in giving you a reason to stock up on various sweets in celebration. New to The Gingered Peach lineup is the Breton pastry treat, Kouign Amann. Let me just share… it is layer, upon layer, upon layer, upon buttery layer of crispy baked, bourgeois goodness. This laminated pastry dough-based treat is hard to find in this area and, if you know anything about the process of creating this flaky wonder, you will appreciate Canady-Brown’s year plus of dedication in getting it right before presenting it to the public. I say pick a few of these up in their petite size and bless some co-workers with a little French magic.

For those of us who may need a bit more than a cupcake, mini red velvet cakes will also be available in a 4-inch size, whether the urge to share hits you not. If it’s big love you’re looking to spread, you can order a special Valentine’s Day cake, but make sure you give them 2 days in advance and, if you miss that deadline, they now offer stock cakes in limited varieties that are available for walk-in purchase.

The Gingered Peach, 2 gordon Avenue, Lawrenceville, NJ 08648 609-896-5848, www.thegingeredpeach.com.

So there. Let the love flow, grow or glow and what ever else it needs to do this Valentine’s Day. We’ve all be inundated with so much negativity these days so, on this one day, can we put all the partisan posturing aside and just hold hands?  Romance a republican, love on a liberal, mingle with a moderate, but whoever and however you choose to show you love, let it show.

Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of the Valentine’s Day Roundup here!

We’ve given you chocolates, cakes, sexy dinners, dance parties, cold brews, french pastries and gluten-free goodies, so you have no excuses! Throw on some Barry White, Sade, One Direction or even just your favorite buddy tune and hug someone.  Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone.  Love it up. Tell all your friends.

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Renata Barnes
Renata is the author of "The Taste Chase," MercerMe's own food review column. She's a lover of all things poetic, colorful, funny and inspiring. A native New Yorker, who grew up in Hopewell Valley and spent the better part of her adulthood back in NYC, currently finds herself in a growing love relationship with “the Valley”. Latin food, Indian saris and mehndi, French perfume, African music, Middle Eastern spices, South American jewels, Asian fabrics and anything from just about any island (maybe not Riker’s Island) are things that remind her to go out and taste the world, live passionately and always wear deodorant. The mother of one rambunctious boy and the wife of a mellow fellow, Renata tries to put her too many years of university and her film and writing talents to good use here in NJ. “I’ve spent too much time trying to fit in some where when I probably belong everywhere. That slow revelation has been freeing.”

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