If there’s any worst night to go out all year, it is surely Valentine’s Day…although I think New Year’s Eve is a very close second. I was pretty well sure Valentine’s Day was an invention of Hallmark Cards but that’s not at all true. It’s a Western Christian Feast Day that celebrates one or more Saints named Valentinus and it’s much more serious than any greeting card. According to Wikipedia it’s “a significant cultural, religious and commercial celebration of romance in many regions around the world.” And then there’s the story of one of the saints: St. Valentine of Rome.
The Saint was imprisoned for performing Wedding ceremonies for soldiers who were not allowed to marry and for ministering to Christians who were persecuted by the Romans. Awaiting execution, he restored the sight of the blind daughter of his judge. He then wrote her a letter signed “Your Valentine” as a farewell.
Whoever Your Valentine is, I have a couple of suggestions. The first is to make this a stay-at-home night. The second is to remind you of what I discovered last year: Making a meal for a lover is an Aphrodisiac of the highest order. A man cooking for a woman, a woman cooking for a man, all yield the same result—a romantic evening filled with great food. I’m going to hold off on the Main Course, because that’s a story in and of itself.
In keeping with my headline, I’m going to reveal a really wonderful recipe for Chocolate Soufflé, a glorious deep dive into dark chocolate with an almost molten center, an aroma of rich chocolate that bursts from the dish the moment your spoon breaks its crisp top. The whipped cream only adds to the sensuality of this dessert. And if you have visions of having to get from the table to throw this soufflé together while your lover cools their heels at the dinner table, forget it. No, this can be made a day ahead. At the appropriate moment, the ramekins go into the oven and the soufflé puffs up and sets in as little as 20 minutes or 5 minutes more if the soufflé goes straight from fridge to oven. I highly recommend using 8-ounce individual ramekins although this recipe can be used in a 16 oz. ramekin. The 8 oz size seems to say “I made this just for you” better than splitting the larger soufflé. The recipe will follow after I tell you about the main course.
And now for a major announcement…
I am pleased to tell all those of you who did not know that in addition to this blog and my work as a Staff Writer at The Daily Meal, I’ve just become a Food Wine and Travel Curator for a phenomenal new web presence called HipSilver. We’re all about the “Silver Generation”, those of us who are 60 and better. We live life with energy, gusto and style and we want to share what we’ve learned so we can live our lives fully and flat out. I am so hoping that you’ll follow this link to my Valentine’s Main Dish and please scroll down the page and subscribe to this great new resource. If you’re nowhere near 60, you’ll still learn from the experts and please think about sharing our link with your favorite member of the Silver Generation. Here’s the link and the recipe….https://www.hipsilver.com/monte-valentines-day/
Here’s the recipe for your Valentine’s Chocolate Soufflé
The sexiest of all desserts, this Chocolate Soufflé has a rich deep dark chocolate flavor enhanced with a dollop of fresh whipped cream.
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
- 3 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 egg whites
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- pinch salt
- pinch cream of tartar
- Step 1 Heat oven to 375° F. Use 1 tablespoon of the butter to grease one 16-ounce or two 8-ounce ramekins. Coat the ramekins with the cocoa, tapping out the excess.
- Step 2 In a large bowl, over a pan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and remaining butter. Stir occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and add the vanilla. Whisk in the yolks one at a time until smooth. Set aside.
- Step 3 In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites with the sugar, salt, and cream of tartar until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Gently fold the egg-white mixture into the chocolate. Spoon into the ramekins. (The recipe can be made to this point up to 1 day ahead. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.)
- Step 4 Bake until puffed and set, 40 minutes for a 16-ounce soufflé, 20 minutes for two smaller ones. (If baked directly from the refrigerator, add 5 to 10 minutes.) Serve immediately with Whipped Cream.