Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Chocolate for your Valentine

Pastry Chef Gregor Pfaff from Germany uses his hand to smear the finishing chocolate on a gigantic chocolate heart at the four seasons shopping plaza in Bangkok.
It weighs approximately 2,028 pounds (922 kilograms), and stands 16.4 feet (5 meters) high and 16.4 feet (5 meters) in width.

This Valentine's Day try out these great Chocolaty Recipes and give a gift that is Yummy!

Chocolate Heart Layer Cake with Chocolate Cinnamon Mousse
Yield: 4 servings, 1 eight-inch cake

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar

Mousse Base:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
4 cinnamon sticks, broken in half

Mousse, Cake Assembly, and Glaze:
2/3 cup cherry jam
2 tablespoons kirsch (clear cherry brandy)

4 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon chai-spiced tea leaves or Lapsang souchong smoked black tea leaves (from 1 tea bag)
5 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

For Cake:
Preheat oven to 400 F. Place 8x2-inch heart-shaped cake ring on sheet of foil. Wrap foil up sides of ring. Brush foil and inside of ring with 1 tablespoon butter; dust with flour. Place on baking sheet. You could also use a buttered and floured 8-inch round cake pan with 2-inch-high sides.

Sift flour, cocoa, and salt into medium bowl. Combine eggs and sugar in large metal bowl. Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water). Whisk until sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Remove from over water. Using electric mixer, beat mixture until thick and billowy and heavy ribbon falls when beaters are lifted, about 5 minutes. Sift half of dry ingredients over; fold in gently. Repeat with remaining dry ingredients. Transfer 1/4 cup batter to small bowl; fold in 3 tablespoons butter. Gently fold butter mixture into batter; do not overmix or batter will deflate. Transfer batter to ring.

Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer cake with foil to rack; cool completely. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and store at room temperature.)

For Mousse Base:
Bring whipping cream and cinnamon sticks just to simmer in heavy medium saucepan. Remove from heat; let steep 1 hour at room temperature. Cover and refrigerate cinnamon cream overnight.

For Mousse, Cake Assembly, and Glaze:
Blend jam and kirsch in small bowl. Cut around sides of cake; lift off ring. Using metal spatula, loosen cake from foil and transfer to rack. Using serrated knife, cut cake horizontally in half. Using tart pan bottom, transfer top cake layer to work surface; turn cut side up. Spread half of jam on cut side of both cake layers.

Strain cinnamon cream into large bowl; beat until soft peaks form. Stir finely chopped chocolate in heavy small saucepan over low heat until smooth. Quickly fold warm chocolate into whipped cream (chocolate must be warm to blend smoothly). Immediately drop mousse by dollops over bottom cake layer; spread to within 3/4 inch of edge. Gently press second layer, jam side down, atop mousse. Smooth sides of cake with offset spatula. Chill assembled cake on rack while preparing glaze.

Bring cream, 1/4 cup water, corn syrup, and tea to boil in small saucepan, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; steep 5 minutes. Strain into another small saucepan; return to boil.

Remove from heat. Add coarsely chopped chocolate; whisk until smooth. Cool glaze until thickened, but still pourable, about 30 minutes. Place rack with cake over baking sheet. Slowly pour glaze over cake to cover, using spatula if necessary to spread evenly. Chill until glaze is firm, at least 2 hours and up to 1 day. Place cake on platter and serve.

Chocolate Balls with Caramelized Almonds

Yield: about 60

Flavorless oil for the baking sheet
1 1/4 cups (9 ounces) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (2 ounces) water
1 2/3 cups (9 Ounces) whole blanched almonds, at room temperature
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Lightly oil a baking sheet with a flavorless oil.

Mix the sugar and water in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Use an unlined copper sugar-pot if you have one. Cook the syrup over medium heat, stirring once or twice, until the sugar dissolves. Put a candy thermometer in the pan. Wash any sugar crystals from the sides of the pan with a brush dipped in cold water. Continue to cook, without stirring, until the thermometer reaches 248 F.

Remove the thermometer, and turn off the heat. Add the almonds. Stir until the sugar syrup clumps and turns opaque. Over low heat, continue stirring until the sugar remelts and coats the nuts with a caramel-colored syrup. This will take about 20 minutes. If the nuts start to smoke, remove the pan from the heat for a minute, turn down the heat, and continue to cook.

When the sugar has melted again, carefully pour the almonds in the syrup onto the oiled baking sheet. Be careful -- the almonds will be very hot.

When the candy is cool, break it apart. Store it in an airtight container (not in the refrigerator) until you are ready to make the chocolate balls.

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over simmering water. (Use a food processor to grind the candy into a powder.
Mix the candy powder and the warm chocolate together.
Drop the mixture by teaspoonfuls onto a baking sheet covered with plastic wrap.

Bittersweet Chocolate Hearts

Yield: 6 Chocolate Hearts

7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Cut parchment paper to fit a 9-by-13-by-2-inch pan. Brush vegetable oil in corners and center of the pan, pressing parchment to adhere it. Set aside.

Bring a medium pot of water to a simmer. Place chocolate in a medium stainless-steel bowl; place the bowl over, but not in, the simmering water to melt the chocolate, about 4 to 6 minutes.

Remove chocolate from simmering water. Thoroughly dry bottom of bowl; a drop of water will ruin the chocolate. Pour chocolate into prepared pan. Using a large metal offset spatula (angled blade), spread the chocolate evenly over the surface 1/16 inch thick. Freeze until chocolate sets, about 6 minutes.

Working quickly, use a heart-shaped cookie cutter (3 1/4 inches across at widest point), to cut out six chocolate hearts. If chocolate begins to soften, return to freezer for several minutes. Run an offset spatula under the hearts, and place in a container. Cover and freeze until ready to use, up to 2 weeks.

These are perfect paired with raspberry semifreddo in Chocolate and Raspberry Heart Napoleons.

Chocolate and Raspberry Heart Napoleons

Chocolate hearts are layered with raspberry semifreddo ("half cold" in Italian), a frozen dessert similar to ice cream.

Yield: 2 Servings

3 half-pint containers of fresh raspberries (about 18 ounces), or 1 pound frozen raspberries

4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons kirsch or champagne

3 large egg whites

1 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon superfine sugar

Bittersweet Chocolate Hearts
Confectioners' sugar, for garnish

Line a 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking pan (1/4 sheet) with parchment paper. Set aside. Place raspberries (if using fresh raspberries, reserve 1/2 cup for garnish) in a medium skillet over medium heat. Simmer until raspberries begin to break down and liquid is released, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer raspberries to a food processor, and puree, about 20 seconds. Pass through a fine sieve. Set aside to cool.

Fill a large bowl with ice and water; set aside. Bring a stockpot a quarter full of water to a boil. Let simmer. In a medium stainless-steel bowl, whisk together egg yolks, 2 tablespoons sugar, corn syrup, and kirsch or champagne; place over simmering water. Whisking constantly, cook until mixture thickens (when whisk is lifted over the mixture, the ribbon-like trail it leaves on the surface should hold its shape for 1 or 2 seconds), about 4 minutes. Transfer bowl to the ice-water bath; whisk mixture while it cools. Add 3/4 cup raspberry purée to mixture; whisk to combine. Set aside.

In an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites on high speed until frothy, about 30 seconds. While mixer is running, gradually add remaining 6 tablespoons sugar; beat until very stiff, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Transfer mixture to a bowl. Beat cream with whisk attachment until stiff; fold into egg whites.

Fold raspberry mixture into egg whites and cream. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan; cover with plastic wrap. Transfer to the freezer; freeze until hardened, at least 4 hours. This can be prepared up to 2 days in advance.

To make the raspberry sauce, stir superfine sugar into the remaining raspberry purée (about 2 tablespoons). Refrigerate until ready to serve.

To serve, use a heart-shaped cookie cutter (2 1/2 inches across at the widest point) to cut out four hearts from the semifreddo. Divide the raspberry sauce between two dessert plates. Place a chocolate heart, off center, on top of the raspberry sauce. Place a semifreddo heart on each chocolate heart, and repeat layering until there are three layers of chocolate and two layers of semifreddo, ending with a chocolate heart. Garnish with reserved fresh raspberries (if using), and sift confectioners’ sugar over the raspberries, if desired.

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jamezu said...

WOW... O_O that's a big chocolate heart.. who's gonna eat that?

~~VANS~~ said...

Yummy cakes! and that's one of a big cake!!