Hot ideas for Valentine’s Day

I guess any self-respecting chef-type person needs to offer a Valentine’s Day recipe. I have to admit I like savory stuff. You can’t deny that a cheesy fondue, with gruyere and swiss melting into the hot cunning of garlic-infused white wine, is pretty sexy.  However, not everyone has a fondue pot and, if you’re keen on making it, fondue mixes abound. So you probably don’t need my help with that.

Also, chocolate is the best thing ever–or so my fellow females tell me. So I shall offer you chocolate truffles and espresso bark. You still get hot, melting goodness with these recipes, and I say that’s what counts.

First, the truffles. These are incredibly open to innovation. They also offer an opportunity to support fair trade and organic practices with chocolate and coffee– two foods whose origins are important.

The variations I offer in the recipe are espresso or mocha, Peppermint Rush, and Naughty and Nice (think spicy hot chocolate in the tradition of Jacques Torres, a company that itself was borrowing liberally from the Aztecs).

So here we go!

Chocolate Truffles

Basic ingredients:

1/3 cup organic or hormone free heavy cream

2 cups organic or fair trade chocolate chips

6 Tbs. butter (yeah–organic or hormone free again)

Basic method:

In 1 qt saucepan, heat cream to a simmer. If you have a double boiler, pour the hot cream into the upper part. If you don’t have a double boiler, no worries. Just remove the saucepan from the heat. In either case, add butter and chocolate chips and stir.

If using a double boiler, place the upper portion over boiling water. If using a saucepan, place in a slightly larger pot with boiling water, set to low heat. Stir the chocolate mixture until smooth and shiny, with all of the chocolate melted.

Pour the molten sin — er, chocolate — into a shallow bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (with add-ins, it will likely take longer).

When firm, take the bowl to your work surface. Have small paper muffin cups or waxed paper ready. Using a melon baller or sorbet scoop (which is basically a very small ice cream scoop), scrape the mixture into balls. Place each truffle in a muffin cup or waxed paper carefully and return to the refrigerator soon.

These can survive outside the fridge without melting for a while, but it’s best to keep them chilled. You can freeze extras, too!

Variations:

Espresso or mocha truffles. Use half cream and half espresso or strong coffee to make 1/3 cup liquid. Heat liquids together as you would the cream in the basic method. Garnish with espresso beans. Nummers! With a crunch!

Peppermint rush truffles. After the chocolate is melted, add ¼-½ tsp. pure peppermint oil or peppermint extract (the oil is stronger) and mix well. Continue with chilling as usual. If you use enough peppermint oil, you get a mint rush just from smelling these. And when you eat them, hoo Nelly!

Naughty and nice truffles. After the chocolate is melted, add about ¼ tsp each cayenne pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg, or to taste. You can experiment with other spices like cloves and cardamom, or use a mix like pumpkin pie or apple pie spice. Chill as usual, cause you’re just that cool. The result is a complex mosaic of flavors, with a naughty after-kick

Espresso Bark

This stuff wakes you up and gives you a romantic chocolate fix all at once

Ingredients:

Espresso beans

Semisweet chocolate chips

(These should be as organic and fair trade as you can find, of course. The amounts are up to you. This is more of a concept recipe)

Melt about ¼ of your chocolate chips in a double boiler, rigged-up double boiler imitation, or in a microwave (if you must). Stir in the rest of the chips and continue to heat until the chocolate is smooth and shiny.

Spread out the espresso beans on waxed paper or in paper muffin cups. Pour melted chocolate over beans until they are well coated. Chill in the fridge until chocolate is firm.

Happy eating!

Thanks to http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com for the inspiration for the truffles!

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2 thoughts on “Hot ideas for Valentine’s Day

  1. I can’t wait to try this out next V-day! I was thinking it would be really nice and special to make some home-made treats for my special guy, and I actually almost called you up to get the recipe for these or some other treat cuz I knew you’d have some good ideas up your sleeve!

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