Monday, 11 February 2013

2 Chocolately Desserts Perfect for Valentine's Day


What romantic Valentine's Day meal would be complete without a luscious, chocolatey dessert to follow? I'm going to share two great dessert ideas that are easy and feature more aphrodisiacs: chocolate, strawberries and coffee. 


Valentine Chocolate Mousse



Chocolate mousse is a classic Valentine dessert. It does leave a few dishes to clean and needs hours in the fridge to set, but it's simple and can be made in advance. Any basic mousse is essentially three components folded into each other: whipped cream, whipped egg whites and a custard. In this case we're using a chocolate custard. As you can tell from the picture I tried to make it look all fancy by piping it into martini glasses but you could easily just spoon it into the vessel of your choice and it will still look great. I'm not going to lie, my piping skills are very amateur and I slightly overwhipped my egg whites which I didn't realize until it was too late. When you whip egg whites, you want to whip them until they are light, foamy and form peaks. When you overwhip them, the water begins to separate and the foam becomes a bit grainy. Luckily these still turned out delicious but as a result of the overwhipped eggs, the mousse didn't hold its shape quite as well while being piped. So, please take this opportunity to learn from my ignorant mistakes. 

This recipe also includes a tiny bit of finely ground espresso beans. You can still make this recipe without, but a minor note of it really distinguishes the flavour of the chocolate. You don't add enough of it to make a chocolate espresso mousse. The espresso is used almost as a seasoning for the chocolate. It's incredible and I really recommend you don't leave it out.

There's also a bit of spiced rum in this recipe. If for whatever reason you can't or won't use it, that's fine. You could substitute the rum with just plain water. A little liquid needs to be added to the chocolate while it melts. You could use whatever you see fit, I just happened to use rum here. 

This recipe makes enough for two servings, but in the photographs the recipe is doubled. 

Ingredients

1/3 cup of bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (good quality)
1 tbsp spiced rum
1/4 tsp of finely ground espresso beans
1 tbsp of unsalted butter
1 egg yolk
1 egg white
1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup of whipping cream

In a bowl, whisk the whipping cream until it forms stiff peaks. It will whip up better if it's very cold. Once you're done, put it in the fridge until later. 







In a new bowl, combine the sugar and the egg yolk and whisk together for a few minutes until it becomes creamy and blonde in colour. 




In a bain marie or double boiler, add the chocolate, rum, and ground espresso. Gently melt the chocolate, while stirring, until it forms a sauce. Be careful not to burn the chocolate. 




The next step is combining the chocolate with the egg yolk. First, you have to let the chocolate cool down for a few minutes or it will cook the egg. When the chocolate has cooled down, temper the yolk by adding a 1/4 of the chocolate into the sugar-egg mixture and combine. This will introduce a bit of heat to the yolk so it doesn't scramble. Once incorporated, mix in the remaining chocolate. Place the chocolate mixture back onto the double boiler over a simmer for just two or three minutes to thicken it up a bit. Then set aside to cool.

While the chocolate is cooling, whisk the egg white until it's light, foamy and forms stiff peaks.






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When the chocolate is cool, gently fold in the egg white. With long, clean sweeps, fold the mixture to just combine while keeping it light and airy. Then, remove the whipped cream from the fridge and fold that into the chocolate mixture. 




 
When you've finished, your mousse should look something like this:






From here, you can place in any two glasses, bowls or ramekins you choose. In the picture below you can see my attempt at piping a spiral design with a star tip hoping it will vaguely resemble a rose. It looks a bit like soft serve rather than true mousse because I massacred the egg white. It still turned out very good though, I'll explain how in a little bit.





Very loosely wrap your vessel of choice with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The mousse needs several hours in the fridge to set.  




Leave the mousse in the fridge for at least six hours. My highlighted recommendation is to leave it overnight. Mousse is perfect when eaten the following day. The consistency will be phenomenally complex orchestra of luscious, creamy, light and airy. I left these in the fridge overnight and although it didn't save the presentation of the mousse because of the egg white mishap, it saved the texture of the finished product. Mousse is unlike anything. It is one of the towering kings of the dessert world. The note of coffee really brings out the chocolate flavour. You'll be amazed at this. It's the all-time perfect way to say "I love you" or "I think you're special" when you make someone something like this from the heart. 

There are a few ways you can turn up the flavour and the presentation like sprinkle a little more ground espresso over top (like I did) or confection sugar. You could use fresh fruit, nuts, shredded coconut, chocolate shavings, whipped cream... you are the boss of your mousse. 

Blogger's Note: You may have noticed that at no point does the egg white get cooked. Mousse does technically contain raw eggs. If this may be a potential hazard to you or your date, resort to plan B below. Otherwise, just make sure you use fresh eggs and you'll be just fine.



Chocolate Covered Strawberries




So let's say you don't have the luxury of preparing a chocolate mousse the night before. Here's a great, quick, and impressive dessert to make your lover swoon. It's so easy you could put it together right after dinner. You don't want to be spending hours in the kitchen. You want to spend more time enjoying the company of your sweetheart. Fresh strawberries dipped in chocolate are a fun and charming solution. It's only three ingredients and takes only minutes to make, though these can even be made in advance. 

These are a great Valentine's Day treat but they can be enjoyed any time of the year. This recipe is even better in the summer when strawberries are in season. You definitely will want to try that! I used dark or bittersweet chocolate, which is what I usually use when I'm cooking with chocolate. This recipe works really well with milk chocolate and white chocolate too. The choice is up to you, just make sure that you use very good quality chocolate. Your dish is only ever as good as the ingredients in it and with something this simple you want to go all out. Your strawberries should also be as fresh, red and juicy as possible. 

You don't need me to tell you this, because I know you're going to do it anyway, but you should save a few strawberries aside to eat with the chocolate while it's still melted. You owe it to yourself. It's one of the many rewards throughout the joys of cooking at home. 

One last thing, I used coconut oil but you could use any other flavourless, neutral oil. Vegetable oil or canola oil, for example, would work just fine. You need a little oil in there for two reasons. First, it will create the effect of a matte shine on the chocolate after it sets. This adds so much to the presentation. Second, it provides just enough moisture in the chocolate to keep it from shattering when you bite into it. Without the oil the chocolate will just crack and fall off the strawberry. 

Ingredients

1 quart of fresh strawberries
1 cup of bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 tbsp of coconut oil


Line a baking tray with wax paper and set aside. Your strawberries should be washed and patted dry with paper towel. Any excess water will keep the chocolate from sticking to the fruit. 

In a bain marie or double boiler, add the chocolate and coconut oil to the bowl. Stir occasionally to ensure that the chocolate melts evenly and doesn't burn.    



When all the chocolate is melted, remove from the heat. Tilt the bowl diagonally so that the chocolate forms a deep well on the side. Dip each strawberry into the chocolate and turn it one full rotation. Then turn it up out of the chocolate and gently shake it to discard any excess. Only dip the strawberry about 2/3 into the chocolate. You still want to leave some f  the red on the berry and the green leaves on top exposed. 




Place each strawberry on the wax paper ensuring none of them touch each other. 


  

Allow the chocolate to cool and solidify completely onto the strawberries. It will only take about five minutes. Then place the tray in the fridge and let the chocolate set for 15 minutes or until you need them. 





There you have it! Two terrific and romantic desserts using plenty of arousing aphrodisiacs. Either of these recipes will be great following your romantic dinner. Although, if you really want to impress and indulge your lover, why not make both of these desserts and turn them into one?




    
That's right, you could serve a chocolate covered strawberry on the top of your chocolate mousse. The two contrasting chocolate flavours and textures work tremendously well with the sweet, juicy, freshness of the strawberries. I recommend taking a small spoonful of mousse and topping the strawberry with it. One bite of that will send you and your date to heaven.


  
I want to share a cross section of this mousse so you can get a clear idea of the consistency. See how it's light, whipped and airy but still has that creamy, chocolatey lusciousness to it? That's what you're after. 

Good luck with your Valentine's dinner and dessert. These are some very simple and affordable ways to really impress your sweetheart. If you don't have a certain someone this year, why not celebrate Valentine's day with a good friend and make these recipes together for fun like I did. lol

Be happy, be loved and stay fed.

Happy Valentine's Day.

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