Valentine’s Day is a big deal for some people, and a big drag for others. Having spent the majority of my adulthood thus far as either an embittered single or one half of a very boring couple, it’s taken some adjustment to get used to my most recent, and hopefully permanent, situation… and to stop hating “Singles Awareness Day.” The great thing is that whether you’re single or attached, you can make and enjoy these great, restaurant quality desserts in your home, and they’re really easy to do.
Last year, for our first Valentine’s Day together, I made Ian molten chocolate lava cakes, along with a big, fat Porterhouse steak (that set off the smoke alarms throughout our apartment when I seared it) and mango bellinis. I haven’t decided what to make for him this year, but I’m leaning toward seared tuna steaks, and hoping our neighbors forgive me for the screaming alarms.
If chocolate isn’t your thing, my maple créme brûlées are just the excuse you’ve been waiting for to buy a brulee torch and start burning sugar. They’re rich, creamy, and the smokiness of the maple echoes the caramelized sugar on the top perfectly. Or, for a lighter treat, cap your evening off with moscato-poached pears in a raspberry chocolate balsamic reduction, using dark chocolate balsamic vinegar from Fiore (available at their retail stores in Bar Harbor, Rockland and Freeport, as well as at The Vault in Lewiston and right here in Bangor, at Bangor Wine & Cheese.)
Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes
- 6 oz. semisweet baking chocolate (I used chocolate chips so it would melt faster without chopping!)
- 6 oz. butter (diced, room temperature)
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup flour
- butter for ramekins
For hot and gooey lava cakes right after dinner, prepare these ahead of time, preheat the oven to 350°F during your meal, and then just put them in ten minutes before you’re ready to eat dessert. First, melt chocolate on low flame in a double boiler. When it’s melted, remove it from the heat and stir in the diced butter until it melts. In another bowl, beat together eggs and sugar, until it starts to whiten. Stir in your melted chocolate first, and then the flour. Butter four individual ramekins, and pour in the batter. Bake for about 10 minutes and tip ramekins upside down onto dessert plates drizzled with raspberry coulis (recipe below,) garnish with powdered sugar, and serve.
- 1 bag frozen raspberries
- 1/2 cup sugar
Thaw raspberries and put them in a small saucepan with sugar. Cook them until the juice begins to thicken, and then strain through a fine strainer or cheesecloth to remove the seeds.
Maple Crème Brûlée
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/3 cup maple sugar
- coarse sugar (I used demerara) to top
Preheat the oven to 300°F and boil some water for the water bath. Place four ramekins inside a baking dish and set aside. In a bowl, combine all ingredients except the coarse sugar until smooth and creamy. Divide the mixture between the four ramekins, and add boiling water to the baking dish, filling until about ramekins are about halfway submerged. Bake about 30 minutes, checking for doneness; they should be mostly firm but still have a little wiggle to them. Allow to cool in the water bath, then remove to the refrigerator. Chill 8 hours or overnight. To serve, top with demerara or coarse sugar, then brûlée with a kitchen torch until the sugar is brown and crispy.
Moscato-Poached Pears in Raspberry Chocolate Balsamic Reduction
- 2 ripe pears, peeled
- half a bottle of your favorite Moscato (I find Barefoot very drinkable and affordable)
- 2 tablespoons seedless raspberry preserves
- 2 tablespoons Fiore dark chocolate balsamic*
In a saucepan, bring wine to a boil; add pears and return to a boil, then lower heat and leave to simmer for 30-45 minutes, or until fork tender. (The riper the pear, the shorter the cooking time.) Remove pears with a slotted spoon and continue to simmer wine until it reduces by at least half. Whisk in raspberry preserves and chocolate balsamic, reduce a bit more, and divide between two shallow bowls. Slice pears in a fan design and place in balsamic mixture to serve.
*If you can’t get to a store that sells Fiore products or you just can’t justify the cost of a bottle for two tablespoons (I know, it’s spendy, but it’s so good, and they don’t pay me to say that!) you can add a tablespoon of chocolate syrup and a tablespoon of regular balsamic vinegar for similar results.
For more recipes from my kitchen to yours, please visit http://www.forkable.net.