Another Valentine's Day is upon us, and once again I'm spending it about 750 miles away from that special someone in my life. It is 200 miles closer than last year, but that's not really helping us much.

As many of you in those dreaded long-distance relationships know, it's harder to make Valentine's Day special from afar. There are no candle-lit dinners for two, no snuggling in front of a fireplace, no, as my mother calls it, hanky panky of any sort. It's just Skype and good ol' reliable USPS.

This year I wanted to do something a little different. Since I work at a food website and spend hours looking at amazing, mouth-watering photos and recipes, I decided I would make Eric some chocolate-covered yumminess.

While I'm pretty adept in the kitchen, at least with the savory stuff, this turned out to be much-harder than I had planned.

I scoured for ideas, of which there were plenty. Unfortunately for me, I decided I wouldn't follow any one recipe, but just melt some chocolate, dip things in it, and call it a day. Recipe. Who needs a recipe?

Apparently, I did. I started with milk chocolate morsels over a double boiler and added some of the higher-quality semi-sweet stuff. I poured in a little milk and added a couple pats of butter. I mean, that sounded all right to me. 5 minutes in, my chocolate starts seizing.

Since I didn't have any back-up chocolate in case of disaster, I quickly smeared as many Oreos, pretzels, and graham crackers as I could with the chocolate mess I had made. Then, I sprinkled on some chocolate toffee pieces to make it look decent. It may not look pretty, but anything covered in chocolate has to taste good, right?


I also had bought some white chocolate, because I was going to make beautiful chocolate drizzles over all my beautifully covered milk chocolate goodies. In my head, this all sounded plausible.

So, I cleaned up the milk chocolate mess and dove into round two. This time I was going to melt my chocolate into ooey gooey, drizzle-able goodness. I would baby it into submission, coax it over a gentle heat to the most amazing white-chocolate ganache ever. More butter, more milk, and I would be all set!

Not even close. The only difference I managed to make was that it took 10 minutes for it to all go wrong. This stuff wasn't even remotely usable. It looked like weird rice pudding, but it tasted pretty darn good.

So, I would go all Jacques Torres on my rice pudding and pour it onto some parchment paper and make a white-chocolate 'bark". Suprisingly, my channeling of the French chocolate master worked. I covered half the bark with chocolate toffee pieces and the other half with pretty pink sprinkles (I momentarily forgot this was for my boyfriend). I let it cool in the fridge, then, once it was solid, broke it into pieces.



I packaged everything in parchment paper and plastic bags and shipped it off to Michigan. In a couple of days, my sweetie will be able to enjoy his sweets.

The lesson: Follow a recipe or two! Or was it to not panic and get creative? Maybe both.

Hopefully, next year we'll be in the same city and I can stick with my strengths and make him a steak.

Watch an expert melt chocolate the right way here.

Do you have any dessert disaster stories? Ideas for next year?