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Celebrate Valentine's Day: Warm Chocolate And Mulled Wine

This week on the podcast we're getting you ready for Valentine's Day. We'll be talking about aphrodisiacs with special guest Dr. Debby Herbenick from the Kinsey Institute and making three romantically inspired recipes: two hot drinks and a classic chocolate fondue.

Whether or not you're spending your Valentine's Day with that someone special, these recipes are great anytime you need to warm up and indulge yourself on a cold winter night.

Special Guest! Dr. Debby Herbenick On Food And Sex

We asked our listeners what foods you find sexy, or what foods are aphrodisiacs for you and you gave us some great answers.

We heard everything from chocolate and fresh fruit, to oysters and sushi, to melted cheese, and of course, our favorite, which came in through our facebook page: "Anything healthy cooked by a naked man with an apron on (and cowboy boots)."

because it feels good book coverWe wanted to find out more about aphrodisiacs, so we brought in an expert.

Dr. Debby Herbenick is the host of another podcast produced here at WFIU, Kinsey Confidential. She's also the author of a recent book "Because It Feels Good: A Woman's Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction," and a sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, here at Indiana University.

The History And Folklore Of Aphrodisiacs

Herbenick says that some foods are more commonly described as aphrodisiacs, such as oysters, which have a lot of folklore around them going back to Casanova, who supposedly ate some ridiculous number of oysters in preparation for his love making and conquests.

"And certainly oysters resemble genitals, and there are other foods that do, too," Herbenick said, "the inside of papayas and avocados or figs, for example."

But there are other foods, like sushi or melted cheese, that are sensual in the way that people eat them.

Herbenick says that the term "aphrodisiac" is based of course on Aphrodite, the goddess of love and sex and beauty. "The idea is that aphrodisiacs are supposed to be substances, could be foods, that either enhance arousal or desire, or the way that we talk about them more often these days, would be things that could enhance sexual function."

There are a lot of herbs that people also describe as aphrodisiacs, such as saw palmetto. And what they mean generally is that they make them more "potent." However, Herbenick says that there's really not a lot of research that supports the use of most herbs for sexual purposes.


We also asked about "anti-aphrodisiacs," foods that you should stay away from on Valentine's Day, and Herbenick advised that is was more about eating a certain type of meal.

"For many people, a very heavy meal is not going to make them feel like having sex," she said, "They're going to feel tired and sluggish, and they're probably going to want to take a nap on the sofa rather than have sex on the sofa."

YOUR Ideal Valentine's Day Meal

We asked Dr. Herbenick what her ideal Valentine's Day meal would be. The answer:

"A small cup of white bean and black truffle soup from one of my favorite restaurants in San Juan, Puerto Rico. And then maybe a light green salad with mushrooms of the forest and maybe a very light pumpkin ravioli with a sage and brown butter sauce. And then just some strawberries for dessert, or some raspberries."

Sounds good to us. We posted a complete interview with Dr. Herbenick over on the Kinsey Confidential site with some advice for food play during sex and other not so G-rated stuff, so be sure to check that out too – if you're into that sort of thing ;).

Valentine's Day Recipes

Now into the kitchen and on to the food. We've got three recipes for you today: a spicy mulled wine and a dark Caribbean-inspired hot chocolate, and this simple, yet delicious classic dessert, a warm chocolate ganache, perfect for dipping any fresh fruits, cookies, or any other finger-foods you might like to enjoy with your partner this Valentine's Day. Enjoy!

Warm Chocolate Ganache With Fresh Strawberries

A little orange zest, minced fresh ginger, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, or your favorite booze can make this chocolate fondue really special. Serve with strawberries, star fruit, graham crackers, marshmallows, walnut halves, orange segments, and other things that go well with chocolate.


  • 1 cup finely chopped premium bittersweet chocolate
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • ginger, cayenne pepper, orange zest, etc. (to taste)


  1. Place the chopped chocolate in a bowl with your desired flavorings.
  2. In a saucepan, heat the cream over medium heat until it just begins to bubble.
  3. Remove from the heat and immediately pour the cream over the chopped chocolate.
  4. Stir the mixture until the chocolate has completely melted and mixed with the cream to form a thick sauce.
  5. Use immediately or keep warm over a hot water bath on very low heat until ready to use.

Make it spicy, make it sweet, make it with orange... Let us know how you jazz up this chocolate ganache by dropping us an e-mail: eartheats @

Two Hot Valentine's Day Drinks

If your idea of a romantic Valentine's Day evening is staying in and curling up (or, well, you know) by the fire, then try making one of these delicious warming drinks – Chef Orr's rich, dark Caribbean-inspired hot chocolate, or this warm wine with mulling spices and honey:

Your house will smell AMAZING by the time this potion is ready to drink. And the best part? All those herbs and spices add some fantastic richness and flavor to your mulled wine, but they also do some great things for the body. Makes 16 servings.


  • 3 750 mL bottles of your favorite local red wine
  • 2 cup light brown sugar or to taste depending on sweetness of wine
  • 1 cup honey
  • 3 branches thyme
  • 3 fresh bay leaves
  • 12 cloves
  • 14 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 2 tablespoons Aux Poivres spice blend (recipe follows)
  • 3 pieces star anise
  • 3 3-inch cinnamon sticks
  • 2 oranges, sliced in half moons
  • caramel-rimmed glasses (dip glass rims into a little honey, then into cinnamon sugar to create a caramel ring)
  • optional: splash of vodka as needed


  1. Pour the wine, sugar, and honey in a non-corrosive (stainless) pot and bring to a simmer.
  2. Place the remaining ingredients, except the orange, in a cheesecloth, tie, and place in the warm wine. Allow to infuse for 10-15 minutes over heat and then add the oranges. Taste and adjust sweetness and spices; keep in a thermos.
  3. Serve in caramel-rimmed glasses with a splash of vodka as the final touch to add a little kick.
  4. Let mull for 45 minutes to an hour.

One thing to remember, the alcohol cooks off as the wine mulls so you might want to add a splash of vodka to this before serving. And to really spice up your night, serve this up in a caramel rimmed glass!

Aux Poivres Spice Blend

  • 2 tablespoons cracked black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons cracked white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese Szechuan pepper
  • 3 tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 4 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoon guinea pepper
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Coarsely crack all the peppercorns and spices separately and combine with the red pepper flakes. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Next Week

Ok, so next week's show is admittedly quite a bit less romantic, but still delicious.

We're talking about pizza: how you can make your own pizza dough, some fresh ideas for toppings and even, how pizza stones work.

Make sure to join us then, or subscribe to the podcast in iTunes so you're sure not to miss it.

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