If you’re under the misconception that Valentine’s Day is a holiday meant to be intimately celebrated between two lovers, think again. Contrary to popular belief, this holiday presents the perfect opportunity to show several of your loved ones just how much you enjoy spending time with them.
If you’re looking for a fun and festive way to do just that, turn to Elizabeth Mascali and Dawn Sandomeno for inspiration. Their book, Plan to Party, features a stunning chocolate soiree you can easily recreate to dazzle those near and dear to your heart this Valentine’s Day. Below are a few of Mascali’s and Sandomeno’s tips for creating this gorgeous party.
Stage a hot spot
To create a party setting that’s sensual and sophisticated, Mascali and Sandomeno recommend building a hot spot. “The hot spot you create is the ultimate setting to showcase your soiree’s three core elements: cabernet, chocolate, and candlelight. You’ll light the candles, dim the lights, and put on some soulful music,” they explain.
Serve delectable sips and sweets
Mascali and Sandomeno suggest starting guests off with a glass of prosecco. “For a splash of color and style, add a berry or two to the cocktails,” they add.
Next, transition guests to a cabernet sauvignon wine that pairs well with the dark chocolate you’ll also be serving. Mascali and Sandomeno recommend setting up a wine bar that’s equipped with plenty of cabernet, wine glasses, a bottle opener, salted nuts, and pretzel crisps.
Your dessert buffet table may include any number of rich, chocolaty goodies. A few Mascali and Sandomeno suggest include:
- Chocolate cake, sliced in smaller than usual slivers
- Pots de le crème, topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings
- Bite-sized bonbons or truffles, some filled and some solid
- Intermezzo berries, served alongside a mini toppings bar of whipped cream, chocolate fudge, and pastry shells
- Treat guests to a chocolate tasting
“A chocolate tasting is an easy way to get guests to mingle and converse,” say Mascali and Sandomeno. To create this activity they suggest that you designate a special area specifically staged for the tasting and hand each guest a chocolate tasting rating sheet.
For the tasting itself, Mascali and Sandomeno offer the following pointers:
“Break chocolate bars into bite-sized squares. Group them by variety on a mirror or tray, or display them in a segmented serving dish. Label each group with a place tile or marker. If you are doing a blind tasting, label chocolate with a number instead of a name. Remember to make a note to yourself matching the number to the name of the chocolate.”
Set the mood with sultry music
Savvy hostesses know that music is an essential element of any fabulous soiree. Mascali and Sandomeno say a party like this calls for music that is sensual, sultry, and soulful. “Feature Corinne Bailey Rae, KT Tunstall, Joss Stone, Macy Gray, Joe Cocker, Ray Charles, and Gnarls Barkley as your headliners. Your music mix should add to the vibe, while making you feel oh so good,” they explain.
Send guests home with something sweet
What better way is there to thank guests for attending your soiree than to send them home with a tasty token of your appreciation? Mascali and Sandomeno offer the following recommendation:
“Wrap one or two pieces of candy, such as bonbons, truffles, or dark chocolate almond bark in a clear cellophane bag or white candy box tied with a ribbon. Trust us—your guests will privately relive the magic of the evening through this special treat.”