Tag Archives: Chocolate

Valentine’s Day Sweets

Valentine's Day Sweets

This article originally appeared in the February 2014 issue of The Journal of the Delaware State Bar Association, a publication of the Delaware State Bar Association.  Copyright © Delaware State Bar Association 2014.  All rights reserved.  Reprinted with permission.

Happy Place – Italian Pastry

Enjoying my favorite Italian pastry – sfogliatelle – along with some chocolate for dipping is a most happy place.

Sfogliatelle

In response to Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Happy Place

Éclat à la Mode

The perfect accompaniment to my gingersnap gelato was some broken bits of Éclat Chocolate’s Caramelized Hazelnut bar.  Chocolatier Christopher Curtin’s creations at Éclat Chocolate are some of the finest and uniquely flavored sweets I have encountered.

While Curtin trained in France at le Companion du Devoir, he decided to make his home at the shop on High Street in West Chester, Pennsylvania.  All of his chocolates are made at the West Chester location, yet you can find his products at Dean and Deluca and DiBruno Bros. as well as your local gourmet shop.  Or, visit the online store at http://eclatchocolate.com and browse the delicious truffles, caramels, mendiants and bars.

I enjoy the “Destination Bar” collection, from the traditional Dark Pennsylvania Dutch Chocolate to the exotic Toasted Corn.  For my fall-flavored gelato of ginger, molasses, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg, I decided on the Caramelized Hazelnut bar – a blend of caramelized Spanish hazelnuts and 65% dark chocolate.  The hazelnuts provided a delightful crunch to my decadent ice cream – a dessert of great éclat.

Gelato Cup

Some End of Summer R & R – Raspberries and Ricotta

I have been back in the classroom for two weeks, yet I am trying to soak up every last bit of summer, including summer berries.  This easy dessert incorporates raspberries, my favorite berry, and ricotta, one of my preferred cheeses.

Simply scoop some ricotta into each dessert bowl and gently blend in a small quantity of honey.  I used honey infused with lemon from a local farmers’ market.  I also drizzled a bit of chocolate infused olive oil on top of the ricotta, but you could substitute with some chocolate shavings.  Top with a few raspberries and garnish with a fresh sprig of mint.

On a recent trip to San Francisco, I purchased some delicious pâtes de fruits (fruit jellies) in Tout Sweet Pâtisserie.  The Negroni flavor is most interesting with its ingredients of blood orange, grapefruit and Campari.  So, for a little bitter to balance the sweet, I placed a few of these tasty jellies on the side.

Cheers!

Ricotta and Raspberries 1

A Summer Side – Chocolate Mint Couscous

One of the greatest scents of summer is the fragrance of fresh herbs.  I use many of the herbs in my small garden nearly every day – basil in a Caprese salad, sorrel in scrambled eggs and thyme and sage in roasted potatoes.  The chocolate mint, with its clean aroma, presents more of a challenge.  However, last night’s dinner of lamb tenderloin demanded the mint.

Herbs

Rather than use the mint in a sauce for the lamb, I decided to incorporate it in a couscous.  First, I roughly chopped three sprigs of mint leaves and shelled and roughly chopped a handful of salted pistachios.

Pistachios

Then, I brought 1 1/4 cups of water to a boil and added 1 cup of whole wheat pearl couscous.  I stirred the couscous periodically and added one tablespoon of butter, a dash of turmeric and salt and pepper to taste.  When the couscous was just about cooked (after 8 minutes), I stirred in the pistachios and mint.  The saltiness of the pistachios was an excellent complement to the subtle chocolate flavor of the mint.  The color was also vibrant and summery.

Consider serving this couscous alongside a lamb dish, as I did with the lamb tenderloin marinated in olive oil, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper.  Make a little extra for the next day, as I found it to be a tasty addition to an antipasto lunch of prosciutto and cheeses.

Couscous

Valentine’s Day Sweets

Most people associate a gift of chocolate with Valentine’s Day.  While a box of chocolates is the traditional sweet, whether it’s dark chocolate bark or chocolate truffles, I intend to make my Valentine a special dessert following a homemade meal.  Below are three of my favorite desserts that are rich and comforting yet relatively simple to make.

Chocolate Ricotta Cheese Cake

 Ingredients:

½ cup of sugar

3 eggs

¼ pound of semi-sweet chocolate cut into small pieces

½ teaspoon of cinnamon

½ teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Small splash of orange flavored liqueur such as Triple Sec

1½ pounds of ricotta

You can prepare this recipe in a pie dish or you can use ramekins for individual servings.  I prefer the latter for ease of serving and a more interesting presentation.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Beat the sugar and eggs together, then add the chocolate and other ingredients.  Put the ricotta in last and mix thoroughly.  Butter the ramekins and fill them with the mixture so it reaches about ¾ up the sides of the ramekins.  Place the ramekins in a baking dish and add enough hot water to the dish to come about ½ the way up the sides of the ramekins.  Cover the entire dish with aluminum foil and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until it looks like the mixture is cooked through.  Remove the foil and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes.

Test doneness by putting a toothpick in the center and making sure that the center is no longer liquid.  Remove the dish from the oven and carefully remove the ramekins from the water bath.  Chill the ramekins before serving and top with fresh berries.

Flan with Fresh Fruit

 Ingredients:

5 eggs

14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk

1 cup of whole milk

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

½ cup of sugar

2 tablespoons of water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Beat the eggs.  Mix the eggs, condensed milk, whole milk and vanilla (this is the flan mixture).

Heat a saucepan over medium-low heat and add the sugar and water.  Using a wooden spoon, stir the sugar and water mixture until the sugar melts and turns a light brown color (this is the caramel).  You may need to add more water to achieve a caramel consistency.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and pour the caramel into a buttered 9 inch round pie dish.  Then pour the flan mixture into the mold and cover tightly with aluminum foil.  Place the mold into about 1½ inches of hot water in a larger pan.  Bake for about 1 hour.  To test, insert the tip of a knife in the flan.  If the knife comes out clean, then the flan is finished.  Chill the flan before serving.  To serve, place fresh berries on the side of the flan.

Coconut Rice Pudding

Ingredients:

½ cup of short grain pudding rice

3 tablespoons of superfine sugar

½ teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 ¼ cups of whole milk

1 2/3 cups of coconut milk

7 tablespoons of light cream

2 tablespoons of shredded coconut

Soak an unglazed clay pot, such as a Römertopf, in cold water for 15 minutes and then drain the pot.  Add the rice, sugar, vanilla, milk, coconut milk and cream.  Cover the clay pot and place it in a cold oven.  Set the oven to 350 degrees and cook for 1 hour.  Remove the lid, stir the pudding, then replace the cover and cook for 30 to 45 minutes until the rice is tender.  Remove the lid and stir the pudding.  Sprinkle the pudding with the shredded coconut and bake uncovered for 15 minutes.  Serve at room temperature.

Happy Valentine’s Day, and save some room for dessert!

This article originally appeared in the February 2014 issue of The Journal of the Delaware State Bar Association, a publication of the Delaware State Bar Association. Copyright © Delaware State Bar Association 2014.  All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

Flan Photo