Valentine's Day is round the corner and the pressure to make it the ultimate romantic day of the year hangs in the balance. Or does it? I'm not convinced that it deserves the reverence and sense of occasion bestowed onto this day. Partners are under duress to exhibit their love with flowers, dinner, champagne and clichéd gifts, but really it's the over-commercialised cheese that I personally loath, not the notion of romance per se. I'm not a killjoy but there's so much more to love than a mere twenty-four hours of imposed romance.
Being a self-confessed foodie, I love eating out, but the idea of dining out on Valentine's Day in a restaurant full of awkward couples, fills me with trepidation. In fact I think cooking a meal for someone is a significant act of love, now that's amore and as that old adage cites, the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. Or to a woman's for that matter. It's all about the effort and about making it deeply personal.
Valentine's Day falls during that post-Christmas time of year, when everything is a grey blur! I guess that February is only redeemed with the whiff of love in the air. I suggest that if nothing else, we celebrate this day with some delicious food and definitely some decadent desserts. I believe in making life easy, so if you're going to make a beeline for the kitchen to set the mood for love, keep it simple. Sharing-food is the obvious answer to heighten your romantic experience. By all means indulge in those traditional aphrodisiac foods, but I just want to draw your attention to a few ingredients that have proved to spark romance. Avocados, chillies, pine nuts, olive oil and rocket are all known to have 'lustful' properties, so let your imagination run riot and create some magic with these 'in the mood' foods. Of course don't forget to cook with love, the food always tastes better.
Chocolate and Valentine's Day go hand in hand. Apparently, chocolate contains phenylethylamine, a chemical stimulant, which is released by the brain during a passionate exchange. So I think it fitting to end a Valentine's Day meal with a chocolate dessert. I want to share a chocolate fondant recipe, that is not only luxurious, extravagant and indulgent, but is also sophisticated and uber sensual. This recipe is very simple and it ticks every check box. Whether you're making this for a potential partner, lover, spouse, parent, sibling, child or family, it's sure to put a smile on everyone's face. And even if Cupid hasn't sharpened his arrows you'll definitely fall in love with this dessert! XOXO
Chocolate Fondant Dessert
- 90g Caster Sugar
- 150g Unsalted Butter plus extra for greasing
- 150g Dark Chocolate (70% Cocoa Solids)
- 3 Free Range Egg Yolks
- 3 Free Range Eggs
- 1 tbsp Plain Flour
- Pre-heat the oven to 165 degrees celsius (fan-assisted oven), or equivalent.
- Using the extra butter, grease four large ramekins, or dariole moulds and set aside.
- Chop the butter into small cubes and break up the chocolate.
- Place the caster sugar, butter and chocolate into a heatproof bowl, over a pan of simmering water. The water must not touch the bowl.
- Simmer gently, until the butter and chocolate have melted and then remove the bowl from the pan.
- Whisk the melted ingredients together.
- Add the egg yolks and the whole eggs and beat well, into the chocolate mixture once it is cool.
- Fold the flour into the chocolate mixture with a metal spoon.
- Pour the mixture into the ramekins, or dariole moulds and fill up to three quarters of the moulds.
- Place the moulds into the fridge for about 20 minutes and once chilled remove from the fridge and place onto a baking tray.
- Cook for 10 minutes and then remove from the oven.
- These can either be served straight in the ramekin, or if you have made them in a dariole mould, you can turn them out onto individual plates.
- Serve with double cream, whipped cream or clotted cream.
- If you want to make these in advance, just keep them in the fridge and then remove 30 minutes before cooking them in the oven.
- When you place your spoon into the chocolate fondant, it should have a melting molten middle.
- If you're making this dessert for just two people, then by all means halve the recipe, alternatively, have the extra two for breakfast!