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Saturday, February 14, 2009

CHOCOLATE HEARTS WITH CARAMEL-HONEY SAUCE

Ingredients:
* 8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
* 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
* 1 cup whipping cream
* 3 slightly beaten egg yolks
* 1/3 cup milk
* 1/4 cup sugar
* 2 tablespoons coffee or orange liqueur
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* Unsweetened cocoa powder (optional)
* 1 recipe Honey-Caramel Sauce (optional)
* 1 recipe Candied Orange Peel (optional)
* Whipped cream (optional)

Directions:
1. Chill a medium mixing bowl and the beaters of an electric mixer.

2. Place chocolate in a heavy medium saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly until partially melted; immediately remove from heat and stir until smooth. Cool slightly.

3. In a chilled mixing bowl beat whipping cream with the chilled beaters on medium speed until stiff peaks form. Cover; chill until needed (up to 1 hour).

4. In a heavy small saucepan stir together egg yolks, milk, and sugar. Bring to a gentle boil over low heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and pour mixture into a medium mixing bowl; add liqueur and cinnamon. Stir to combine. Add the melted chocolate, 2 tablespoons at a time, to the hot mixture, beating with an electric mixer on low speed until combined (mixture will be thick). Add 1/2 cup of the whipped cream and continue beating on low speed until smooth. Gently fold in the remaining whipped cream.

5. Line 6 individual heart-shaped pans (about 3 inches in diameter) or 6-ounce custard cups with plastic wrap, allowing edges to hang over sides. Spoon chocolate mixture evenly into pans. Cover with heavy foil; freeze until firm (about 4 hours) or for up to 1 month.

6. Before serving, remove pans or cups from freezer. Invert onto a baking sheet. Remove plastic wrap. Smooth tops of desserts with a knife that has been dipped in hot water. Let desserts stand for 15 minutes at room temperature.

7. If desired, for a cocoa design, cut several 1/4-inch-wide strips of paper, making each strip slightly longer than one of the heart-shaped or round desserts. Place the strips atop one of the desserts in a lattice design. Sift cocoa atop. Carefully remove strips. Repeat with the remaining desserts.

8. To serve, spoon Honey-Caramel Sauce atop 6 dessert plates, if desired. With a spatula, transfer the desserts to the dessert plates, placing them atop sauce. Dollop with whipped cream and top with Candied Orange Peel, if desired. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 desserts.

Honey-Caramel Sauce: In a heavy small saucepan cook and stir 1/3 cup honey over medium-high heat until bubbly and foamy. Reduce heat to medium. Continue to cook and stir until foam is dark golden brown (the color of a penny). This should take about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup whipping cream. Return to heat. Cook and stir about 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Cover surface with plastic wrap. Cool. Makes about 1 cup.

Candied Orange Peel: With a vegetable peeler or small knife, cut strips of peel from 1 large orange, leaving the white pith behind. Use the rest of the orange for another purpose. Cut the strips of orange peel into thin julienne strips (about 1/8-inch wide).

Place peel in a small pan of boiling water for 2 minutes; drain. Remove peel. In same pan combine 1/2 cup water and 1/4 cup sugar. Bring to boiling, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat. Add peel. Simmer, uncovered, for 12 to 15 minutes or until the peel is transparent; drain.

With a fork, transfer peel to a sheet of buttered foil; cool thoroughly. Use immediately or transfer to a tightly covered storage container and store in a cool, dry place for up to 1 week.

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