Today is Valentine’s Day and you know what that means in Japan – chocolate! Are you in need of a major chocolate fix or do you need a chocolate recipe to make for your special someone?
Quite different from customs in other countries such as U.K and America, in Japan, it’s seen as the norm for women to give chocolate to men on Valentine’s Day as a way to express their feelings or as a gift to their loved ones. The men on the receiving end then return the favour on White Day, 14th March.
As explained in this article on how to gift chocolate on Valentines Day, there are four different types of chocolate gifts, those you give to your romantic partners, colleagues, friends and of course chocolate you give to yourself! When giving chocolate to romantic partners many feel that the best way to show their true feelings is to make it themselves.
In the lead up to Valentine’s Day you may have seen more advertisements for chocolate than usual, or an increase of cookie and brownie making kits in the supermarket and Tokyu Hands. This is because a lot of Valentine’s chocolate gifts are carefully prepared and handmade with love!
Why a Japanese Nama Chocolate Recipe as a Last Minute Valentine’s Day Gift?
Are you undecided on what to make for your special someone?
You may have noticed one of the most popular Valentine’s chocolate gifts is something called nama choco (生チョコ) or nama chocolate. The word nama in Japanese means fresh or raw and in this case refers to the fresh cream used to create the chocolate. When I first started making nama choco 7 years ago it was at the top of the Meiji Valentine’s Day chocolate recipe ranking. Now it is still featured in the top few, and their recipe is the one I usually use as my base recipe. I have tried other different gift ideas such as brownies and biscuits, but the receiving end of the gift always favours the nama choco every year.
Nama choco is popular for its rich taste, minimal ingredients, easy recipe, and the lack of a need for specific equipment. You do not need an oven, something that many Japanese households don’t have, nor a fancy oven tray. If need be you can use a Tupperware box to use as a mold, so there’s no excuse!
Something you will need is a little time. While this recipe still falls under a “last-minute” recipe, you will still need 2 hours, or at the least 90 minutes to make sure the chocolate sets. But with that in mind, the preparation is quick, easy and all you need to do after that is wait so onward to the recipe!
What to Prepare for Nama Choco
Ingredients you will need to make the chocolate:
● Chocolate – plain or black is best
● 100ml fresh cream – 45% is best but 35% also worked for me
● Pure cocoa powder – about 50 grams, enough to coat your chocolate
● 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup – only if desired
Equipment you will need:
● Chopping board
● Spoon or spatula
● Oven tin or tupperware box (I used 14cm x 9cm
● A sheet of baking paper
● Measuring cup – or buy a carton of 100ml cream
Nama Choco Recipe
Step 1: Prepare the chocolate
First, prepare the chocolate by chopping it into small pieces to make it easier to melt. If you are short on time here, you can break it up into small pieces. Place the chocolate in a bowl ready for the next step.
Step 2: Heat the cream
Add the cream and honey to a pan, place it on the stove and heat until it starts to bubble.
Step 3: Melt the chocolate
Take the cream and honey mixture off the stove and pour it into the bowl of chocolate.
Mix the chocolate and cream mixture together until you get a smooth ganache.
The chocolate mixture is now ready!
Step 4: Pour the chocolate mixture into a tin and place in the fridge
Pour the chocolate from the bowl into the tin or Tupperware you have prepared. It’s recommended you use a sheet of baking paper or a silicone mold in order to release your chocolate after it has set. Even when it has set it will still be a little soft due to the cream content so take care not to break it.
If you have several hours you can place the chocolate in the fridge, it will take around 2-4 hours to set completely. If you cannot wait that long it’s okay to put it in the freezer, it will then set as fast as 1 hour depending on the thickness of your chocolate and depth of the container.
Step 5: Cut the chocolate
You can gently press the chocolate to test it is ready. It will still be a little soft to the touch as nama choco does not harden completely. Take the chocolate out of the container and remove the paper. Heat a knife with hot water and cut into cubes.
Step 5: Cover with cocoa powder
To finish off your chocolate coat it with your cocoa powder. It’s recommended to coat all 4 sides of each cube so they don’t stick together.
And there you have it, your nama choco is complete!
If it’s a gift for a special someone, now you are ready to gift it in a box. You can buy boxes from the 100 yen store, Loft or Tokyu Hands designed explicitly to fit nama choco. A small, shallow box is great for presentation.
What if My Chocolate Doesn’t Set At All?!
If you don’t have 3-4 hours to wait for the chocolate to set it’s okay to put it in the freezer. I’ve tried and tested it, it still works and taste great! Thanks to the fat in the cream and the sugar in the chocolate nama choco will not harden entirely even if you put it in the freezer.
If it still doesn’t set in the fridge or freezer after several hours this could be down to a few reasons:
1. The chocolate and cream ratio is incorrect: The ratio of chocolate to cream needs to be maintained at a 2:1 ratio. If you put in more cream, it will not set, more chocolate and it will become the same consistency as regular chocolate.
2. There isn’t enough cocoa content in the chocolate. The cocoa ratio should be maintained. When using white or milk chocolate the cocoa content is lower compared to plain chocolate, so it becomes more difficult to set. In this case it’s recommended to use a 2.2:1 ratio of chocolate to cream.
3. The chocolate has been melted at a high temperature. For the nama chocolate to set the chocolate should be melted at a temperature between 50 and 60 degrees. If you heat it in the microwave it is likely to be higher and therefore makes it more difficult to set.
4. There is excess water in the chocolate mixture. When mixing the chocolate and cream together it is best to ensure there is no excess water condensing on the bowl, as this changes the consistency of the chocolate.
Sorted! Are you Ready to Try our Japanese Nama Chocolate Recipe for your Last Minute Valentines Day Gift?
That concludes our nama choco recipe! We would love to know if you have any other chocolate recipe recommendations or favourites. Will you be making chocolate for your loved ones today? Let us know in the comments below!
Check out our article about how to give out chocolate on Valentine’s Day:
Has this article given you a major chocolate craving? If so here is a link to our article about the best Japanese chocolates under 300 yen: