Love, innocent friendship, or erotic sex and sinful hedonism? Confusing are the origins of Valentine’s Day. Sorting out the multitude of legends on the abstruse history of the Valentine’s day, almost all seem to underscore a similarity – a veritable vice of voluptuous activities veiled in a modern-day guise of a virtuous value.
The most popular origin traces to Roman roots. In pagan Roman times, the sacred days of February 13th-15th were designated as the festival of “Lupercalia” in honour of “Lupercus” the hunter of wolves. The festival included rites that are pretty grotesque by modern standards. In their drunken states, the Romans conducted purification rites – they would sacrifice goats and a dog, carve out hides from the slained animals and turn them into loincloths, and smear themselves with sacrificial blood. For reasons fathomable only in those days, young women would gather in Palentine Hill and form queues to receive “strike” treatment from the men, as they believed this would make them fertile. An erotic game of matchmaking lottery would ensue. The young women would drop love notes, into boxes; the young men of Rome would draw these “billets” at random and the woman’s name they drew would become his playmate partner whom he would fornicate with until next year at the time. Hence February 14th became a day of fornication associated with the color red which is said to represent the blood, the heart shape the female matrix, the opening of the sacred chamber for sexual intercourse. Pope Gelasius I re-formed this pagan festival as a Christian feast day circa 496, declaring February 14 to be St. Valentine’s Day.
Anyhow, I played with the idea of eroticism and aphrodisiac ingredients to create a whimsical Valentine’s Day treat. Maca root powder is extolled for its aphrodisiac and libido boosting properties, and I figured it a warming ice cream featuring this superfood would be fun! Do you know that there are three different types of maca root, and different powders depending on the way they are processed? Maca comes in three main colours – yellow (regular), red and black. They are slightly different in their chemical components and physiological effects. In comparative studies, black maca appears to be more neuroprotective than yellow or red and produced the greatest benefit on spermatogenesis. On the other hand, red maca, but not black or yellow, may reduce prostate size. So you may want to choose black maca in making this ice cream!
There are also two forms of maca being marketed: raw maca and gelatinized maca. The claim is that raw maca is hard to digest and the active components are less bioavailable to the body. Gelatinized maca is heated under pressure to remove all the starch content, which is believed to make maca more easily digestible, concentrated and nutrient-dense, and make the active metabolites more bioavailable and potent.
I also used cacao butter instead of coconut oil for the raw chocolate this time and it makes a subtle difference – cacao butter is creamier and smoother without the coconut smell. However given it is so much more expensive than coconut oil, I’d still stick to coconut oil for economical reasons. Feel free to decorate your ice cream bombs as you wish, I couldn’t decide on a single form, so let my creative energy flow with a myriad of styles – plain jane, rocky road, whoopie pie and bombshell-style. Have fun, with love!
- 1 cup cashew nuts, soaked over at least 2 hours
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ½ frozen banana
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons maca powder
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup cacao butter
- ¼ cup cacao powder
- ¼ cup agave syrup
- 3 tablespoons cacao nibs
- Blend all ingredients for the ice cream in a food processor until completely smooth. Transfer to a bowl or Tupperware container and freeze for 30 minutes.
- Once frozen, use an ice cream scoop to scoop ice cream into balls and place in a shallow container and refreeze.
- In a bain marie, melt the cacao butter, then whisk in cacao powder and agave syrup until completely smooth and lump-free.
- Use the chocolate sauce to form crackles of your desired style. For bombshell style, pour the chocolate sauce over the ice cream balls. It should harden almost immediately. For whoopie pie style, pour a chocolate sauce inside a circular mold on parchment paper on a baking tray until about ½-inch thick and let it harden in the freezer, then peel off and use to sandwich the ice cream. For rocky road style, press cacao nibs randomly over the ice cream balls.
- Continue freezing for another 6-8 hours. Let thaw 5 minutes before serving. Best enjoyed after a candlelight dinner!