From all of the food newsletters filling my mailbox this past week, it seems chocolate is about the only dessert most people want for Valentine’s Day. I have quite a few chocolate cookbooks, but when I pulled this one out and the cover says, “Achingly Delicious Recipes When Only Chocolate Will Do,” I knew it should be the cookbook blog for today.
Chocolate is sinfully rich and sensuous, while setting the stage for romance. Fine chocolate is like fine wine; buy the good stuff. Just as each vintner has a formula for selecting and processing grapes, each chocolaterie has a formula for selecting, roasting, blending, and conching (a method of stirring) their precious cocoa beans.
The author suggests learning about the different kinds of chocolate, such as cocoa powder, sweetened and unsweetened, bittersweet, semisweet, German, milk, white, and coverture, so you will understand how each behaves under melting and cooking conditions. Taste different brands and kinds to see what appeals to you most. Even more fun is finding special dessert plates, saucers, or anything you would like to display your chocolate masterpieces that reflect your chocolate mood. Sometimes all you want is chocolate chip cookies, and sometimes, like Valentine’s Day, maybe only a rich and creamy chocolate mousse will do.
There are certainly enough ideas in the cookbook for Valentine’s Day, or any day you feel like chocolate – which for some is just about every single day. If you want chocolate and you want it now, there is a chapter called “Immediate Gratification Days,” where you will find easy and fast ideas such as layering quartered mint chocolate cookies with mint chocolate chip ice cream, adding a little ice cold milk and stir to make a slushy chocolate treat; or layering brownies with chocolate fudge ice cream topping and chocolate ice cream, topped with cream that has been whipped with cocoa powder. Another chapter has the comfort chocolate recipes like chocolate chip cookies, brownies, hot fudge pudding cake, or chocolate cake. For an “ultra-rich day” try a bittersweet creme brulee, truffles, or chocolate bread pudding. But since it is almost Valentine’s Day, simply turn to the “Chocolate Nights” chapter, filled with sensuous chocolate aphrodisiacs such as chocolate-dipped strawberries, chocolate fondue, tiramisu, or “finger paints” where chocolate is melted with butter, cream, and cinnamon and peppermint schnapps, and then you “paint” your chosen canvas. How’s that for your special Valentine? Don’t forget the soft glow of candlelight and some relaxing music…