If you are planning to cook Valentine’s Day dinner at home, remember, this is the one occasion when it is important to punctuate the end with an indulgent dessert! In my opinion, it’s really sacrilege not to.
Since the name of the game is seduction, a simple bowl full of ice cream just won’t do!
When it comes to appeasing the palette, it must appear elegant, taste decadent and yet be easy to make. With a little nibble into their creation, here are my top easy Valentine desserts to whip up in the kitchen.
Like many creations, the chocolate lava cake was the result of a culinary mishap. The dessert was meant to be an individual chocolate cake, but a chef in New York took out his creation a bit before it was done; just as he was sending it out, he noticed the centre of the cake jiggle, and when he gently poked, thick warm chocolate oozed out. Time pressed and not wanting to admit his mistake, he decided to introduce the dessert as chocolate “lava” cake!
Surprisingly, it was a hit and more patrons began requesting the chef’s creation.
Although lava cake appears complicated, it is easy enough for even the novice baker to make at home. And, what’s more, it can be prepared ahead of time, stored in the fridge and then baked at the last minute.
The key to this dessert is to bake just until a crispy exterior is formed to ensure an undercooked centre. This is achieved by baking the cake at high temperature with a short baking time.
Mousse is the French word for ‘foam’ and it is elegant spinoff of the denser pudding recipe. It tends to be lighter textured than pudding because it is mostly whipped — letting air incorporate into the mixture to give more volume and airy texture.
This dessert became popular when it was discovered that egg whites could be whipped up into a fluff. The introduction of electric mixers made the foaming process much, much easier.
I have tried a few recipes but the one that intrigued me the most was the two-ingredient mousse recipe — egg and chocolate are all that is needed. Well, maybe three if you consider that egg is separated into yolk and the egg white before mixing into the chocolate.
I was skeptical as to how these simple ingredients could produce an airy textured mousse, but comparing this recipe to one prepared with more complex ingredients, this recipe was definitely a gold medal contender.
The key is to remember that the mousse is only as good as your chocolate, so pick a high-grade chocolate.
Bananas Foster is a combination of bananas sautéed in sugar, melted butter and rum. When served at a restaurant, this is then flambéed at the tableside.
This dessert was born in the 1950s in New Orleans, which was the major port of entry for bananas from Central and South America. The story goes that Owen Brennan, owner of Brennan’s Restaurant, wanted to promote bananas. So he challenged his chef to include bananas in a new dessert.
Little did Owen know that little challenge gave birth to a dessert that has become an international favourite.
Naming the dessert after his friend Richard Foster, Brennan’s restaurant, still located at the French Quarter, in New Orleans, flames up 35,000 pounds of bananas each year.
Fondue means ‘to melt’ in French and refers to the contents of a communal heated pot used to keep the contents in a liquid state. Although French in name, fondues have Swiss roots, where fondues were considered to be melted cheeses seasoned together with dry white wine and served as a hot dip for pieces of bread.
Taking the concept of dipping into melted cheese, Konrad Egli, a Swiss restaurateur in New York, introduced fondue bourguignonne — where pieces of meat are cooked in hot oil.
Four years later, Egli, as part of a promotion for Toblerone chocolate, introduced North America to decadent chocolate fondues.
Fondues are the easiest and the quickest dessert to whip up. Melt chocolate in a little bit of cream in the microwave and serve up with cut up fruit, marshmallows, or cubes of cakes.
Madhu Badoni is a Red Deer-based freelance food writer. She can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @madhubadoni. Watch for Madhu’s Masala-Mix blog on bprda.wpengine.com.
Makes 6 cakes
6 squares bittersweet chocolate
2 squares semisweet chocolate
10 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 large eggs
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons orange liqueur
Preheat oven to 425F. Grease 6 custard cups. Melt the chocolates and butter in the microwave. Add the flour and sugar to chocolate mixture. Stir in the eggs and yolks until smooth. Stir in the vanilla and orange liqueur. Divide the batter evenly among the custard cups. Place in the oven and bake for 12 minutes (start checking after 10 minutes). The edges should be firm but the center will be soft. Run a knife around the edges to loosen and invert onto dessert plates. Top with powdered sugar, whipped cream and fresh fruit.
4 eggs, whites and yolk separated
100g of dark chocolate
Whip the egg whites into stiff peaks. Melt chocolate in the microwave. Pour the egg yolks into the chocolate, and immediately stir. Don’t let the yolks sit on the hot chocolate without mixing, or they may begin to cook and not smoothly incorporate into it. Mix chocolate into the egg whites. Pour into cups, cover and let set in fridge. The consistency improves as it chills.
BROWN SUGAR RUM SAUCE
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon butter
1/2 teaspoon canola oil
2 tablespoons dark rum
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 small bananas, quartered
1/4 cup of ice cream or vanilla yogurt
Stir brown sugar, butter and oil in a medium skillet over medium heat until bubbling. Add rum, lime juice and cinnamon and cook until slightly thickened. Add bananas and cook, stirring, until tender. Divide between 2 bowls and top with a dollop of low-fat vanilla yogurt.
2/3 cup heavy cream
4 (3 1/3 ounce) Toblerone chocolate bars, finely chopped
1 tablespoon cognac
In a medium saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer. Remove from heat and add chopped chocolate. Let stand long enough for the chocolate to begin to melt, about 3 minutes. Add the liqueur and whisk until smooth. Transfer mixture to a ceramic fondue pot or chafing dish and keep warm. Serve with dipping ingredients such as pound cake, strawberries, sliced peaches, or bananas.