Rather than show you an array of heart-shaped cupcakes, eggs, cinnamon rolls, and  cookies, we decided to bring out the big guns for Valentine’s Day: the ever-elusive aphrodisiac. It seems like every nut, fish, and vegetable on the block is claiming to be an aphrodisiac these days, but we’ve got a roundup of 12 aphrodisiac-filled recipes sure to make Aphrodite herself blush. And yes, a couple of these involve chocolate and strawberries. ;)

1. El Chupacabra Martini: Sure, cocktails are a surefire way to kick off a romantic evening in with a little style, but add in fiery blood orange and Brazilian acai, and your Valentine won’t know what him ’em. (Recipe and photo: Muy Bueno Cookbook. Aphrodisiacs: blood orange + acai.)

2. Watermelon Ginger Punch: Or if you’re having a daytime rendezvous in a warm climate, whip up a batch of this refreshing summertime punch. Wax poetic over summers spent at the beach, and add in a little vodka and mint as the sun sets. (Recipe and photo: Expat Recipe. Aphrodisiacs: watermelon, ginger + optional mint.)

3. Caramelized Vanilla Almonds: A lovely thing to make ahead of time, these sweet treats are perfect for snacking on before heading out on the town. The power of vanilla may just have you skipping dinner altogether…;) (Recipe and photo: Sunday Hot Pants. Aphrodisiacs: vanilla, almonds + optional cocoa.)

4. Strawberry Watermelon and Basil Summer Salad: Another recipe reminiscent of summer, this starter is perfect for an unseasonably warm February day (of which we’ve been having a lot of). We recommend adding a small crumble of feta for an extra kick of savoriness. (Recipe and photo: Crepes of Wrath. Aphrodisiacs: strawberry, watermelon + basil.)

5. Fig Goat Cheese Pie with Basil: You know we love all things miniature, and these fig goat cheese pies are no exception. Serve these up for a Valentine’s Day brunch and cozy up by the fire. (Recipe and photo: Always With Butter. Aphrodisiacs: almonds, fig + basil.) 

6. Asparagus, Walnut Crema, Truffle Oil, Parmigiano: 17th century English herbalist Nicholas Culpepper wrote that asparagus “stirs up lust in man and woman.” Need we say more? Oh yeah, there’s truffle oil involved. Recipe and photo: Anticiplate. Aphrodisacs: asparagus, walnuts + truffle oil.)

7. Oyster and Scallop Tartare with Ginger Dressing: A widely known aphrodisiac, oysters get a little wingman action courtesy of ginger and champagne (vinaigrette). And what’s more luxurious than a bit of caviar? (Recipe and photo: Trissalicious. Aphrodisiacs: oysters, ginger + champagne.)

8. Bacon Avocado and Tomato Crostini: Let’s be honest. Bacon is an aphrodisiac. It might not myth or legend attached to it (yet) but we think the existence of marrybacon.com, bacon frosting, and bacon chocolate chip pancakes are all a sign of the times. (Recipe and photo: Inspired Taste. Aphrodisiacs: avocado, garlic, lemon + bacon!) 

9. Saffron Almond Fudge (Kesar Badam Burfi): A traditional Indian dessert, this fudgey almond wonder is a great, but still decadent, alternative to chocolate fudge. The saffron gives it an exotic almost smokey flavor and, of course, a bright marigold hue. (Recipe and photo: Oh Taste n See. Aphrodisiacs: saffron + almonds.)

10. Wine Poached Pears & Vanilla Bean Mascarpone: Every evening’s better with red wine. Not only is it good for the heart, but it boosts your libido and a burly Cab stirs up some serious male pheromones. (Recipe and photo: The Improv Kitchen. Aphrodisiacs: cinnamon, vanilla + red wine.)

11. Pomegranate Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies: First of all, who knew that oatmeal was an aphrodisiac? We love that hearty oats really are heart-y. And the romantic hue of pomegranate has more to it than meets the eye, natural antioxidants protect your blood vessels and get your heart pumping. (Recipe and photo: Blogher. Aphrodisiacs : pomegranate, oatmeal + chocolate.) 

12. Minty Chocolate Mousse: Mint and chocolate have always been a match made in heaven. York Peppermint Patties, Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream, even good old Andes Creme de Menthe mints. And now, with help from egg (yes, an aphrodisiac), vanilla, and a whole lot of whipping and whisking, you can turn your mint chocolate love straight up to 11. (Recipe and photo: Chezus. Aphrodisiacs: egg, chocolate + mint.) 

How do you get romantic in the kitchen for Valentine’s Day? Got any sizzlin’ aphrodisiac recipes we should try out? Leave us a note in the comments below or find us on Twitter.