for your valentine

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, my thoughts turn to … CHOCOLATE! Well, I am a chef — and that may not be the only thing on my mind. I like to treat my valentine well! So, I want to share with you a decadent, yet easy, rich and delicious dessert, that can be made ahead. I suggest making the full recipe, which yields four servings … one for after dinner, and one for a midnight snack!

But wait, what about dinner? How about classic fondue savoyarde — that’s cheese fondue for us mere mortals! It is such a romantic entree, accompanied with a selection of dippers, and of course meant to be eaten with fingers. Feed your Valentine’s soul.

blackberry syrah pots de creme

Blackberry pots de creme

3/4  cup syrah
1/2 cup blackberries
1 tablespoon sugar
3 egg yolks
6 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup syrah/blackberry puree (from the first paragraph)
1 cup cream or half-and-half
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In medium saucepan, reduce wine to 1/4 cup. Add blackberries and bring back to boil. Pass the mixture through a sieve. Measure out 1/2 cup of the mixture for the pots de creme; return this portion to the saucepan. Stir the 1 tablespoon sugar into the remaining sauce for garnish, and put into a squeeze container. Set aside.

Add the cream or half & half to the syrah/berry mixture in the pan, heat through.

Meanwhile, in top of double boiler, ribbon yolks and sugar, lightly.  You do not want to create foam.  Place over simmering water, slowly add hot berry/cream mixture, stirring constantly with  a wooden spoon.  


*At 140°F, steam starts to rise.  At 155°F, the foam lightens, and the bubbles begin to consolidate.  At 156°F degrees, the surface smooths out and the custard is ready.  The custard should coat the back of a spoon, heavily. REMOVE PAN FROM HEAT, add chocolate pieces, and whisk like crazy to cool custard and stop the poaching of the egg protein. When mixture is smooth, add vanilla. Strain if necessary. Spoon into individual pots de creme molds, or ramekins; chill until set. Garnish with whipped cream if desired.  Serves 4.  

**If mixture becomes too hot, around 180°F, your custard will curdle. 

fondue savoyarde

(classic cheese fondue)

6 ounces Swiss cheese, grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (1/2 cup)
1  teaspoon cornstarch
1 large clove garlic, halved
1/2 cup white wine
2 teaspoons lemon juice
freshly grated nutmeg
freshly ground black pepper
French bread cubes
Boiled potatoes
Broccoli flowerets
Cauliflower florets
Apple slices
Pear slices

Combine Swiss and Gruyere cheese; toss with cornstarch. Set aside.

Rub inside of fondue pot with the cut side of the garlic; discard garlic. Pour in the wine and lemon juice. On the stove top, warm until bubbles cover the surface. DO NOT COVER or ALLOW TO BOIL.

Stirring constantly, add a handful of the cheese mixture, keeping heat medium (but do not boil). When the cheese has melted, add another handful. After all cheese has been added and melted, add nutmeg and a dash of pepper.

Quickly transfer to the fondue burner, and keep warm. Dip items in a swirling motion to keep fondue in motion.

Serves 2.

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