I'm a correspondent for the Northwest Indiana Times and do some writing for the Foods section. As I was thinking about Valentine's Day, I recalled this article I wrote in 2007 that included some chocolate recipes. One was from Villa DeBruno, which sadly has closed. The flourless chocolate cake was one of many of the goodies you'd find on the extensive dessert table when they had the weekly buffet. Just thought I'd post the article for the other chocolate lovers out there. :)
The way to your honey's heart...chocolate
As printed in the Northwest Indiana Times - 2/7/07
Chocolate has long been considered an aphrodisiac, evoking romantic feelings and inducing intimacy.
According to www.aphrodite-chocolates.co.uk, a British Web site for gourmet chocolate, it all started 1,500 years ago in South America when an Aztec emperor "drank 50 goblets of chocolate a day to enhance his sexual prowess."
Chocolate was later introduced in Europe and around the world and became associated with love.
According to the site, two chocolate ingredients -- phenylethylamine and seratonin -- are known to lift moods and increase blood pressure, heart rate and energy levels, mimicking the feelings of being in love.
So, if you're looking to get someone in the mood this Valentine's Day, offering them chocolate is a good start.
Four talented region chefs offered recipes for chocolate creations that are sure to impress the object of your affection.
Jay Dilley, pastry chef for Blue Restaurant in Valparaiso, shared his Chocolate Tart recipe, which he described as "a custard that has melted chocolate in the custard itself and is baked until it sets."
It is a special dessert item occasionally offered on the menu. If you stop at Blue craving chocolate and the tart isn't on the menu, the chocolate cake with ganache is a regular dessert item and should fill the bill nicely.
Vicky Lindsay, a chef at Speakeasy 220 in Crown Point and a cooking instructor at Amelia's Cooking School in Winfield, offered her recipe for Death by Chocolate in a Mug.
Lindsay said her offering was inspired by the classic Death by Chocolate torte recipe originally created by Marcel Desaulniers, a Washington, D.C., chef. She said she used the mug idea after learning from food historians that it was a common practice in the 1920s and 1930s to serve treats in mugs and goblets.
"The famous torte recipe was very complicated and lengthy," Lindsay said. "I took that idea and put a twist on it by putting it in a mug."
Pastry chef Laura Hoffman of Lynwood's Villa de Bruno selected individual heart-shaped versions of her rich flourless chocolate cake for readers looking for a chocolate concoction to prepare for a loved one.
Rob Haynes, owner of Butterfingers, a gourmet specialty shop featuring salads, soups, entrées and desserts, gave tips on perfecting chocolate-dipped strawberries.
12 ounces butter
6 ounces sugar
18 ounces flour
8 ounces semisweet chocolate
6 ounces cream
6 ounces milk
* Heat oven to 325 degrees.
For tart dough: Cream butter and sugar together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time until smooth. Then add flour gradually until dough forms. Divide in half, wrap in plastic and chill for at least 12 hours.
* Roll out dough to about 1/4 inches, put into tart pan, poke holes in bottom with fork. Use a pan 1 inch smaller than tart pan to hold dough down and bake for 10 minutes. Remove smaller pan from tart pan and bake another 5 minutes. Let cool completely.
* For tart : Melt chocolate in double boiler and set aside. Meanwhile, in medium pan, scald cream and milk (DO NOT BOIL). Whisk egg in separate bowl, add milk and cream slowly while whisking constantly, to temper.
* Pour back into pan stirring constantly over low heat. When mixture coats back of a wooden spoon take off heat and add to chocolate. Whisk until combined and smooth. Let cool and pour into cool parbaked tart shell and bake at 325 degrees until custard sets, about 30 minutes.
* Let cool for about an hour before serving.
* Serving tip: Decorate top with whipped cream and/or a dessert sauce.
SOURCE: Chef Jay Dilley, Blue Restaurant, Valparaiso.
Death by Chocolate in a Mug
12 ounces fine-quality chocolate
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup Godiva liqueur or brandy
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon ground sea salt
2/3 cup cake flour
* Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 6 ovenproof mugs or molds or muffin tin (1 cup size)
* In a metal bowl set over a pot of simmering water, melt chocolate and butter, whisking until smooth. Remove bowl from heat and whisk in sugar.
* Whisk in eggs a little at a time. Add remaining ingredients, whisking until well combined. Divide batter among prepared mugs.
* Place on cookie tray and bake in middle of oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Top of cake should be semifirm.
* Serving tip: Top with whipping cream and chocolate sauce. You also could top with a scoop of ice cream and sprinkle a tiny bit of cocoa powder on top.
SOURCE: Chef Vicky Lindsay, Speakeasy 220, Crown Point
Flourless Chocolate Cake Hearts
7 ounces heavy cream
12 ounces semisweet chocolate
3 ounces brewed coffee
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* Heat oven to 350 degrees. Whip heavy cream to soft peaks and refrigerate until needed.
* Melt chocolate and coffee over hot, not simmering, water and set aside. In a metal or glass bowl, heat eggs and yolks over simmering water, while whisking to 110 degrees or just barely hot to the touch.
* Transfer to mixing bowl and whip until light in color and triple in volume. Fold in melted chocolate and vanilla. Fold in whipped cream.
* Fill 12 (3-inch-by-5-inch) aluminum foil hearts completely full. (May yield more than 12 depending on the volume of the whipped eggs and sugar.) Place hearts in a baking pan and fill pan with hot water halfway up hearts. Bake for approximately 20 to 30 minutes or until tops feel firm to touch.
* Let cool in water, then freeze for easier unmolding. Peel off foil. Serve at room temperature.
SOURCE: Pastry chef Laura Hoffman, Villa de Bruno, Lynwood
8 ounces good-quality melting chocolate
12 large, ripe strawberries
* Melt chocolate in microwave or in double boiler. Wipe strawberries with damp cloth and dip into melted chocolate. Place on parchment paper or wax paper to cool. Refrigerate for faster setting. If desired, dip in ground-up cashews or another type of nut or sprinkles.
SOURCE: Rob Haynes, Butterfingers, Highland and Munster
Hints for perfecting strawberry dipping
* You can use any melting chocolate, but European chocolate like Caillebaut or Guittard are preferred.
* If using chocolate chips, add a little light corn syrup to thin it out and make it shiny.
* When selecting strawberries, look for the reddest ones, which will be riper.
* Eight ounces of chocolate is enough to coat at least a dozen strawberries.
* Melt your chocolate either in a glass dish on low in the microwave (be sure to stir it to prevent burning) or melt it over a double boiler on very low heat.
* Before dipping, wipe the strawberries with a damp towel to remove any dirt. DO NOT rinse or submerge strawberries because they will become soggy.
* Keep stems on strawberries for easy dipping.
* After dipping in chocolate, roll them in ground nuts or sprinkles if desired.
* Use wax paper or parchment paper to place strawberries on after dipping to prevent sticking.
* After dipping, place in refrigerator to accelerate setting time. It should only take about 5 minutes for them to set after placing in the refrigerator.
* It is best to eat them the same day they are made. If storing them longer, place them in a covered container in the refrigerator. Make sure they are covered, otherwise the strawberries will sweat.
* Enjoy with a glass of white wine or champagne, which complement them well.
SOURCE: Rob Haynes, Butterfingers, Highland and Munster