With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, my mind drifts to romantic moments of days gone by. The year was 1991 and I was going on a camping trip with a man who I’d been dating for mere months. We had decided that he would supply all the gear; after all, I hadn’t been camping in a decade and didn’t have any gear of my own. I said I would take care of the food. I started stressing. What was I thinking? I wasn’t much of a cook back then, mostly due to inexperience in the kitchen. In fact, my claim to fame was boiling a pot of eggs dry in my mother’s kitchen causing an egg-splosion and yet here I was volunteering to take responsibility for the menu. I surely didn’t want to mess this up because I was positive that this guy was “the one”.

I took a deep breath and decided to make a plan to ensure that my food choices would add to making this the most romantic trip ever. I kept the menu simple and concentrated on something sensual — dessert. I figured a chocolate fondue wouldn’t fail me. It met all the criteria of being romantic and decadent. Plus, it was easy to make.

Chocolate Fondue
from A Fork in the Trail © 2008

Makes 2 servings

1/2 cup Toblerone chocolate, chopped into pieces
A selection of dipping items

At Home
Cut the Toblerone chocolate into 1-inch chunks with a sharp knife, and place them in a ziplock freezer bag. Package an assortment of items such as pound cake, dried pears, marshmallows, graham crackers, oatmeal cookies, banana chips, dates, fresh orange sections, dried pineapple, dried cherries, or anything else you can think of to dip into the chocolate.

At Camp
Use two different-size pots; put water in the larger pot along with a couple of rocks and then place the smaller pot inside the first. The rocks keep the pot off of the bottom which allows space for water underneath. This will keep the chocolate from scorching. Heat over medium. Break up the chocolate in the smaller pot and melt it over the hot water. Turn the stove off when the chocolate is melted. Using a fork, dip your items in the chocolate.

If you have leftover melted chocolate, pour in some nuts or granola and stir. If the chocolate is hot, let it cool a bit before placing it in a ziplock bag to eat as a snack later in your trip.

For safety, do not use rocks that have been sitting in a river, stream or lake. Sometimes rocks that have been in water for an extended period will break open in the pot.

“Any meal or snack can be romantic, but somehow dessert is the sexiest of all.” says backpacker  Michelle Waitzman in her book Sex in a Tent. She is right. It does set the tone for romance. Here is one of the recipes from her “guide to getting naughty in nature.”

Sex in a Pan
from Sex in a Tent © 2007

Serves 2

There are many recipes for Sex in a Pan, but this one is perfectly suited to camping and so satisfying it truly deserves its name.

8 chocolate chip cookies, crushed or broken into small pieces
2 oz Kahlua
1/2 package instant chocolate pudding
Water as required for instant pudding (see package directions)
12 marshmallows, toasted (but bring a few extra, in case some go “missing”)
1/2 cup chocolate chips

If you have a clean frying pan, you can make this in it, otherwise bring along a disposable pie plate or use a rectangular Tupperware container. Crumble the chocolate chip cookies and spread them in the bottom of the pan. Drizzle the Kahlua over the cookie bits, and mix together to moisten. Press the moist cookie crust into the bottom of the pan. Make the chocolate pudding according to the package directions, then pour it evenly over the cookie crust. Use the back of a spoon to spread it out if it doesn’t pour well. Toast the marshmallows and space them evenly over the top of the pudding. (If you can’t toast the marshmallows, they can be added as is or you can substitute marshmallow from a jar.) Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top. Now grab your spoons and dig in!

Wine is another great addition to a romantic backcountry trip. So many good wines are available in TetraPaks these days, however, if you have a favorite vintage that does not come in a backcountry safe container then consider using the PlatyPreserve as a trail friendly decanter. The PlatyPreserve from Cascade Designs is BPA free and intended for wine. If you don’t mind the extra weight you can purchase two non-breakable wine glasses to make the occasion a little more special. GSI Outdoors has several styles but my favorite is the one with the stem. If you are looking for the perfect wine for that decadent chocolate dessert, try an Australian Shiraz.

©Laurie Ann March

I’ll always remember the ambient light from the campfire, feeding each other the roasted marshmallows and fruit dipped in melted Toblerone bar and the way he looked at me. Later that evening, we lay on a warm rock next to the water, sipped wine, and watched the splendor of the Perseid meteor showers, while we talked about life and the future. It has been said that the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach. I guess it is, because Bryan asked me to marry him not long after that trip to the woods and lakes of the Canadian Shield and we are still together almost two decades later.

©Laurie Ann March

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