Decadent Desserts for Your Valentine
February 13, 2010 § Leave a comment
It’s nearly Valentine’s Day, and do I have decadent desserts for you! None of these are my original recipes, but they have all been recently tested by me, and are all now a staple in my repertoire. They are delicious, sophisticated, but easy! (Pardon the absence of pictures here – between a visit from my Chicago friends, a luxurious five-course Valentine’s fundraiser to attend, and the translation of a private revelation, I decided I’d rather post something without pictures than wait until a later date to share these with you).
My first and perhaps the most important recent discovery in the world of desserts is the recipe for a simple chocolate pudding. Rest assured that this deeply-chocolaty concoction is as removed as it could be from the pale supermarket boxed variety (organic or conventional). I first tasted this bold, assertive chocolate dessert at my mother’s-in-law, who made it for us once during one of the many weekends this past fall Jacob and I spent deer hunting. A childless afternoon spent with your honey at your side and a Kalashnikov in hand in the beautiful, transparent November woods is glorious enough, but this wonderful pudding added a perfect finish to the day. It is also so easy and quick that you can decide you want some just before supper, and whip it up right then. It’s definitely my go-to quick chocolate fix.
One thing about choosing the cocoa for this recipe – I really favor dark, high quality, fair trade cocoa for this, not the tame supermarket kind. That is not because I make my purchasing decisions based on the grand ideas of humanism, but simply because fair trade chocolate tastes just so much richer and better, and I am all after the quality experience. Really, get yourself a can of good fair trade cocoa – it doesn’t cost that much more than the other kind, given how long it will last you.
Ueber-Quick Chocolate Pudding
Note: My mother-in-law found this recipe online and shared it with me. Unfortunately, I don’t know the original source, so I have no way of crediting it here. If this is your recipe, do know that it’s changed my life forever for the better.
- 2 C milk, divided
- 3 T cornstarch
- 4 T unsweetened cocoa – this will make it to be on the darker, richer, more bitter side, which is how I like mine, but you may use less if you don’t quite have my level of dark chocolate tolerance.
- 5 T sugar
- 1/4 t salt
- 2-3 T butter, softened
- a dash of vanilla extract
Heat 1 1/2 C milk over low to medium heat until tiny bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan. In the meantime, mix together all the dry ingredients and stir them into the remaining 1/2 C cold milk. Pour the cold milk mixture into the scalded milk in your pan. Keep stirring and raise the heat to medium. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and boil for 1 min, stirring the entire time. Remove from heat, pour into a bowl, and let cool. Add butter and vanilla when warm.
A word of caution: Please avoid the following to prevent your pudding turning back into a runny mess: Don’t repeatedly dunk your finger or spoon into the pudding and lick it. Do it once if you must – the saliva contains the enzymes that could cause your pudding to become runny again. How do you think I know that? Also, don’t beat it madly with a whisk. This will break down the structure too.
The next dessert is the chocolate pots-de-creme – the treat as luxurious as it is simple to prepare. Simple is good, right? Of course right. Pots-de-creme are merely a custard baked in individual cups (I always use one big casserole dish, though) and chilled. The chilling part is really important here – I’ve made that mistake before. It really doesn’t look like much if you tried to eat it warm, but, if you chill it properly, you will be rewarded with a texture similar in richness to mousse but without the airyness that comes from incorporating the beaten egg whites (the step I am all too happy to skip). I loved this. This recipe appeared in the Martha Stewart Living magazine from February 2007.
- 6 oz bittersweet chocolate
- 3 1/2 C heavy cream
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1/2 t vanilla extract
- 1/4 t salt
- 1 T sugar or more to taste (this can really be bitter without the sugar)
Preheat the oven to 325. Put chocolate into a bowl. Bring 2 1/2 C cream to a simmer and pour over the chocolate. Let stand for 5 min, stir until smooth. Whisk together egg yolks, vanilla, and salt. Whisk in the chocolate mixture. Pour through a fine sieve into a round 8″ casserole dish or individual ramekins. Place those in a larger pan and add boiling water to the pan until it comes up halfway up the ramekins/8″ pan. Cover the pan with foil. Cook until the custards are barely set, 25 min for ramekins and 40 min for the 8″ pan. Remove from the water pan, let cool, cover with plastic, and chill for at least 1 hr (or overnight, which works great). Serve with whipped cream (whip the remaining cream with a bit of sugar and a dash of vanilla extract).
Ree Drummond’s Baked Fudge
Then there’s this spectacular chocolate baked fudge recipe from Ree Drummond. Like most of her recipes, this is virtually fail proof, and like most of her desserts, this is a tad too sweet for me – so I chose to cut the sugar to 3/4 C instead of the 1 C called for in the recipe. I also made it in a single 8″ round casserole dish instead of the ramekins, since I don’t have any, which called for the baking time of 50 min or slightly more. It worked perfectly. It goes well served with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.
Ina Garten’s Chocolate Mousse
Finally, if you are feeling up for something really labor intensive, I had great luck with this truly decadent chocolate mousse recipe from Ina Garten. Although it calls for flavoring the mousse with orange liqueur, I opted for creme de cocoa instead, since I like my chocolate treats chocolaty, not orange-y. This is divine served with a huge pile of whipped cream. Just make sure to chill your mousse properly, and, when you are folding in the egg whites, be sure to fold very, very gently. Not fully incorporated is better than not airy enough.
Lastly, if you still haven’t had your fill, be sure to check out this link from Ree Drummond, my personal god, who is rounding up a list of chocolate desserts to try. Note that I haven’t tested these – but boy do they look good. I am planning on making the Nemesis cake soon. I love the ominous name.