Tuesday, February 9, 2021 9:13 AM
It’s been a year for celebrating holidays in new ways, and Valentine’s Day will be no exception. Fortunately, a quick trip to the local market will yield all the supplies you need for an at-home celebration centered around chocolate. You can add sparkling wine or a bouquet of roses, but don’t even think of forgetting the chocolate.
Start early in the day, with a chocolate-swirled banana bread for a Valentine’s breakfast treat. If you’re like me, you always have over-ripe bananas stashed in the freezer, for use in smoothies or baked goods. No stash? Look for the over-ripe ones marked down for quick sale in the market.
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C H O C O L A T E – S W I R L B A N A N A B R E A D
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3⁄4tsp. baking soda
- 1⁄2 tsp. salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 1⁄3 cup butter, softened
- 2 eggs
- 1⁄2 cup sour cream
- 3 ripe bananas (about 11⁄2 cups), mashed
- 1⁄2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan and line bottom with waxed paper. In a medium bowl mix flour, baking soda and salt together. In a large bowl, cream sugar and butter together. Add eggs and sour cream and beat until blended, then stir in mashed bananas. Add flour mixture and beat at low speed until combined. Melt chocolate chips by microwaving at high for one minute or until almost melted, or melt in a small, heavy saucepan on stove. Stir until the chocolate is smooth. Add one cup of the banana batter to the chocolate and stir until well combined. Spoon white batter into greased pan, then the chocolate batter, and swirl together with a knife. Bake for about an hour or until a toothpick poked in the middle of the bread comes out clean. If your bread is a bit soft on top but done around the edges, turn off oven and let sit until it is thoroughly firm. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove from pan and continue cooling on a wire rack.
For a romantic dinner dessert, these pots de creme are elegant in looks but simple in execution, as they’re made in the blender — no laboring over boiling cream and whisking it into an eggy custard.
B L E N D E R C H O C O L A T E P O T S D E C R E M E
- 6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 2 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- a pinch of sea salt
- 1⁄2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. heavy cream (or half-and-half)
- Optional: cocoa powder and/or whipped cream for garnish
Set out four to six small custard cups, demitasse or small tea cups, or ramekins. Place chocolate chips, sugar, egg, vanilla and sea salt in a blender. Pulse a few times to mix the ingredients. Remove center cap from blender cover and place a small funnel into the opening. Pour cream (or half-and-half) into a large microwave-safe bowl and heat on high power for about 11⁄2 minutes or until cream is boiling, or heat carefully to boiling in a heavy pan on the stove. Turn blender on low speed and blend for 15 seconds. Slowly begin pouring the hot cream into the funnel. Once all cream has been added, place your hand on the funnel to keep it in place and increase blender speed to high. Blend for one minute, then pour into prepared bowls and refrigerate for at least an hour. Cover with plastic wrap when storing. Top with whipped cream, dusted with cocoa powder, when serving.
For a simple chocolate dessert, try these flourless chocolate-pecan cookies. Made without a speck of flour, they’re crisp on the outside and gooey on the inside, thanks to the whipped egg whites. One-bowl, easy-to-make confections, they look a little fancier than your typical chocolate chip cookie and, set out with a platter of grapes and strawberries, would be a sweet but light Valentine’s Day dessert.
F L O U R L E S S C H O C O L A T E – P E C A N C O O K I E S
- 3 cups confectioner’s sugar
- 2⁄3 cup unsweetened cocoa
- 1⁄4 tsp. salt
- 3 large egg whites, room temperature
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 4-oz. semisweet chocolate bar, chopped, or chocolate chips
- 1 cup toasted chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350°. Mix powdered sugar, cocoa, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk egg whites until frothy in another bowl, then stir egg whites and vanilla into powdered sugar mixture. Batter will be very thick. Stir in chopped chocolate and pecans until well combined. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then lightly grease paper. Drop cookies onto baking sheet three inches apart, using about 2 tablespoons batter per cookie. Bake until tops are shiny and cracked, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on baking sheet five minutes; transfer to wire racks, and cool completely.
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