Ahh, February, the month of love and chocolate! So… do you have big plans to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your sweetie? A fancy dinner out or perhaps a quiet dinner for two at home? No matter what your plans are, chances are quite good that food will be involved!
Creating the perfect romantic evening doesn’t need to be fancy (unless you want it to be!). For those of us that lead very hectic lives, sometimes just staying home eating pizza by candle light can be a wonderful treat. Food can be the star of the evening or a supporting character, but it should never be a cause of stress! The adage of less is more can really come in to play here!
For those of you that enjoy doing a little cooking but would rather not spend all day shopping and prepping, why not try creating a simple (yet impressive) “heart of tenderloin.” Grill (or broil) a 2” thick tenderloin steak to your desired doneness, let it rest for a few minutes and then cut it almost all the way through the middle, sideways, so it opens like a book. Place the opened steak on the plate, gently shaping it to look like a heart. Add baked potatoes, a nice tossed salad (the bagged varieties are really handy) and few fresh veggies and you have a delicious (yet simple to prepare) meal to serve your sweetie.
When we think Valentine’s Day, usually one of our first thoughts is of chocolate, but these days that flavor isn’t just a sweet candy treat. A look around the super market aisles will lead you to everything from coffee and cereal to beer and wine. There are several wonderful chocolate infused dessert wines available from local wineries, and recently I tried a chocolate cherry stout beer…not my favorite, but talk about a creative concoction!
I love all holidays, but Valentine’s day is such a sweet event…sweet tasting, that is! The sales of sweets, from tiny conversation hearts to large heart shaped boxes of chocolate soar this week. As a chocolate lover, I have always looked forward to Valentine’s Day (and Easter, and Halloween…you get the picture!) because I can feel a little less guilty about consuming my “guilty pleasure”. If it has been given to me as a gift, it would be rude to not enjoy it as the giver intended, don’t you think? It is a tradition, after all! The best part of all of this, is that while chocolate has always been a popular indulgence, of late the healthy aspects of dark chocolate have really hit the headlines and made us feel less guilty about the occasional sweet treat! So, my dear readers, you have my permission to indulge in a sweet Valentine treat!
Happy Valentine’s Day!!
Decadent, Flourless Chocolate Cake
- 1 T Instant Espresso Powder
- 1 T Hot Water
- ¾ C unsalted Butter
- 6 oz high quality Bittersweet Chocolate
- 1 C Sugar
- 3 Eggs
- ½ C unsweetened Cocoa
Heat oven to 350*. Line the bottom of an 8-9” springform pan with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Wrap the outside of the pan in aluminum foil.
Combine instant espresso powder and hot water; set aside.
Break bittersweet chocolate into small pieces. Place butter and chocolate pieces in a nonstick saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until melted. Remove from heat; stir in espresso mixture. Add sugar, beat with a whisk until combined. Add 1 egg at a time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in cocoa until well mixed.
Pour cake batter into prepared pan. Place the springform pan into a large roasting pan. Place roasting pan on center rack in the oven and fill the space around the springform pan with water, to 1” up the side of the pan. Bake 40-45 minutes, until center of the cake is set.
Remove springform pan from roasting pan and place on a cooling rack. Remove foil from pan and cool completely. Gently run a knife around the edge of the cake before removing outer ring of springform pan.
Garnish by dusting the top of cake with powdered sugar and adding a few berries before serving.
To read more of Vicki McGraw’s commentaries on good cooking, fine recipes and perfect party treats, visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on Join Me in the Kitchen’s own page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.