Valentine’s Day Ideas – Gifts from the Heart

The shortest month of the year is upon us, bringing with it celebrations and events for Chinese New Year, Marti Gras, Super Bowl Sunday, President’s Day, and of course, Valentine’s Day. The events and the weather provide a lot of culinary inspiration to cook, whether for meals at home or for take-alongs to other’s parties. Sizzleworks has classes for almost every occasion this month that will not only provide inspiration and ideas to cook, but also the how-to for every event. For Valentine’s Day, I decided to leverage my blog to provide the essentials for you to express your love for your special one with creations guaranteed to make them feel extra-spoiled.

Desserts first (of course):

torta d’espresso e cioccolata (chocolate espresso torte)

  • butter, for the panCHOCOLATE RASPBERRY T#E501C
  • 2 cups butter or margarine (can be reduced to 1 Cup)
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons hot espresso coffee
  • 16 ounces bitter sweet or semi-sweet chocolate, in small pieces
  • 6 eggs, room temperature
  • 6 egg yolks, room temperature
  • boiling water for water bath
  • cocoa powder, for garnish
  • ice cream or whipped cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 325°F. Generously butter an 8-9 inch spring-form pan, line bottom with parchment paper, butter paper. Wrap outside of pan in heavy duty foil, taking care not to make holes, set aside.

Melt the butter, sugar, and espresso in heavy saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves; remove from heat. Add chocolate pieces, shaking pan to get chocolate below the surface of the liquid. Let stand 4 minutes. Stir until smooth.

Whisk eggs and yolks in large bowl till frothy. Whisk into chocolate mixture. Pour batter into prepared pan, place pan in larger baking pan. Place in oven; pour hot water around to a depth of one inch. Bake until edges puff and crack slightly but center is not completely set, about 1 hour; DO NOT OVERBAKE (cake will continue to set as it cools). Carefully remove from water bath, remove foil. Transfer to rack and cool. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Run small knife around cake pan to loosen. Carefully release pan sides. Sift cocoa powder over cake. Cut into wedges, wiping knife clean before each cut. Serve with strawberry or raspberry coulis or whipped cream if desired. Serves 16-20. Freezes well.

chocolate cherry truffle torte

A previous blog post has a recipe for Chocolate Cherry Truffle Torte a wonderful alternative, with as dense a chocolate flavor, but less caffein, that is sure to please!

saucing dessert plates

Saucing dessert plates is very easy and quick – it’s the added touch that makes dessert not only mouth watering, but also beautiful.  Just perfect for this special day.  Here’s a recipe, but I also recommend you review Sizzlework’s Culinary Video Saucing Dessert Plates.

raspberry or strawberry coulis

  • 1 cup raspberries or strawberries, fresh or frozen & thawed
  • 2-4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Combine berries and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat just to a boil, then remove from heat. Pass the mixture through a sieve to remove the seeds. Check for sweetness and add more sugar if necessary. Finish with a teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice to bring out the fresh flavor of the fruit if you like. The coulis can be refrigerated for a week, or frozen up to 6 months. If you like to use small portions, try freezing in an ice cube tray, then storing in a zip-top plastic bag.

crème bruléeDonnell's Blueberry Creme Brulee

Always a favorite – be careful as once your special one tastes these, they won’t be ordering them in restaurants! Here’s a previous blog post on making Crème Brulée that provides a killer recipe.

 

 

Moving back to appetizers, here is something incredibly easy to make that is full-bodied flavor in one small bite.

micro goat cheese soufflés

goat_cheese_souffleServe with Treveri Extra Brut – 100% Chardonnay

  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled (or bleu, or very sharp Cheddar)
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon strawberry or raspberry preserves

Preheat oven to 425°F. Spray a 12 cup mini muffin tin with non-stick spray.

Combine all ingredients except chives in blender, process until smooth. Pulse in chives just to mix. Pour soufflé mixture into each of the 12 cups to about 2/3 full. Bake 11-12 minutes, until golden and puffed. Turnout onto a tea towel and serve.

Options: Top with a tiny dollop of preserves.

Makes 12 micro soufflés.

 


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