Date Night In The Kitchen: Chocolate Chip Calzone

Before getting married, I had never had a Valentine. I'd had my share of boyfriends, but for one reason or another, I'd never had a boyfriend on that day when boyfriends brought their girlfriends flowers and chocolates at school or took them on the one fancy date that a high school relationship might ever endure.

This didn't bother me much as I took the high and mighty stance that Valentine's Day was dumb as couples should celebrate their love every day of the year and that pink heart everything was GROSS. I'd make fun of my friends that had to carry around their $50 bouquet of roses at school and ask what the heck they were going to do with a giant stuffed frog holding a heart. I didn't need a Valentine on Valentine's Day. Valentine's Day was dumb.

But a few years later, I just couldn't deliver my high and mighty speech about the ridiculousness of Valentine's Day. My most serious boyfriend had recently hurt me very deeply, all of my friends had someone, and the guy I was interested in had gushed to me all day at school about his Valentine's plans with his new girlfriend (which, need I mention, wasn't me). That night I wallowed on the couch with "Pride and Prejudice" and a bag of chocolate chips I found in the cupboard while my brother took his girlfriend out on a date and my very happily married parents ate at a fancy restaurant. Ah, the joys of being a teenager. 

Another few years later, I was engaged in the fall and planning out a wedding. We picked a random date that fit our schedules in the early spring until we decided, what the heck, let's get married earlier. We can do it the weekend before Valentine's Day and then I can be married to my first Valentine! And that is when I became a sucker for Valentine's Day.

Young and madly in love, I planned out our first Valentine's Day (and the first Valentine's  in our messy brand new apartment) complete with homemade decorations, conversation hearts used as confetti all over every surface, and a delicious meal for two, ending the festivities by sharing the conversation heart ice cream cake for two. 

Since then, the celebration of our love and marriage has become one giant holiday spanning over the four days between our anniversary and Valentine's Day. We start planning it as soon as Christmas ends and we brainstorm for the next two months about how we can surprise each other. I haven't received a giant stuffed frog (or anything stuffed for that matter) or a box of chocolates in a velvet red heart-shaped box and we have given up on buying roses since we have other things we'd rather spend that $50 on, but Valentine's Day has become one of my favorite holidays as it gives us an excuse to forget about our troubles, adulthood worries, and obligations to everyone and everything else, and just focus on us, our love, and our relationship. And I'm very happy that I'll never have to spend another Valentine's Day on the couch with a bag of chocolate chips.

And I have to admit, there's something special about the world coming together to celebrate love. It's a time where mushy "I love my significant other" posts on Facebook are socially acceptable, candies saying "I love you" are handed out to our friends, kids give out sweet cards to every kid in their class, and the whole world, online and off, is covered in the symbols, colors, and words that remind us to love.

Whether or not you love Valentine's Day or have someone to share it with, you can't deny the urge to eat loads of chocolate on the fourteenth of February. I have the perfect recipe for you- a great dessert to share or one you can drown in by yourself. A triple chocolate chip calzone. A big pile of melty delicious chocolate wrapped in a soft, sweetened crust. And a big perk? It makes enough dough for you to make a giant heart shaped pizza for dinner. Sounds like a great Valentine's date at home!

Triple Chocolate Chip Calzone

Perfect for: An easy but gourmet dessert for two that will fulfill all chocolate cravings
Pair with: A scoop of plain high-quality chocolate or vanilla bean ice cream

FOR THE DOUGH:
Makes enough dough for 1 large pizza + 1 calzone (or 2 personal pizzas + 1 calzone)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. yeast
1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1/2 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup + 3 Tbsp. warm water

Place flour into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center.

IF YOU HAVE A MIXER WITH A DOUGH HOOK: Add the remaining ingredients (in order) and turn on low for about 3 minutes. Turn the speed up to medium high and knead for about 5-10 minutes or until dough becomes one smooth lump.

IF MIXING BY HAND: Combine remaining ingredients (in order) and use a wooden spoon or your hands to mix dough together. Prepare a lightly floured surface where you will knead the dough with your hands for 5-10 minutes or until the dough becomes a smooth ball. 

Lightly oil a clean bowl and place the dough ball inside then cover with plastic wrap or a clean towel. Let the dough rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes or until it has doubled in size. 

Use 1/3 of the dough for your chocolate chip calzone. Save the remaining dough in plastic wrap in the fridge or use immediately for pizza.

FOR THE CHOCOLATE CHIP CALZONE:

1/2 cup white chocolate chips*
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips*
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips*
(OR ANY COMBINATION OF CHIPS TOTALLY 1 1/2 CUPS)
2 Tbsp. heavy cream
Splash of heavy cream
Turbinado or granulated sugar for topping

Preheat your oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine chocolate chips and heavy cream in a small bowl and mix to combine.

Roll out your 1/3 piece of dough (about a baseball size) onto a lightly floured surface, using your hands to flatten, stretch, and shape the dough into a perfect circle. 

Place your chocolate chip mixture onto one half of your dough. Fold the other side of the dough over the chocolate chips. Use your fingers to fold the bottom edge over the top edge in a turning motion, pinching with each fold. Use a knife to poke small holes in the dough to let the steam escape as it bakes. 

Use a pastry brush or spoon to spread a splash of cream across the top and edges of the calzone. Top with a dusting of coarse sugar.

Place your dough on your parchment lined baking sheet and bake in your oven for 18-22 minutes or until top and edges begin to turn gold. Slice into halves or smaller pieces and serve warm with a scoop of ice cream. 

P.S. Record all of your favorite recipes, including the ones from Date Night in the Kitchen, and pass them onto future generations. Check out Bethany's newly opened Etsy shop for the best recipe cards!! They're much cuter than the 3x5 index cards I've been using.