Do you remember in elementary school where the whole class would make little boxes covered in hearts, and everyone would bring little valentine’s for everybody else? I sort of miss those days. As I’ve gotten older, Valentine’s Day became much more about the significant other and less about sharing little notes filled with love and sugar (lets face it, the commercialism was there in the beginning and it’s still there today. Since it’s a constant I’m choosing to delete it from both sides of the equation). Well enough of that – this year I decided to bring back the old version. Which means my coworkers got treats last Thursday.
My biggest dilemma while planning for Valentine’s day, was actually deciding what to make. The end result – I couldn’t, I found two adorable ideas online and decided to make both of them: the white chocolate raspberry cheesecake I found at Sweet Treats and the chocolate hearts displayed at Barefoot Kitchen Witch. Lets start with the cheesecake, since it’s a little less complex than the chocolate hearts.
The cheesecakes were actually relatively simple…it was a white chocolate cheesecake with a raspberry heart. Here are the instructions (an earlier post of mine). These received some pretty good reviews, but the one thing that really surprised me was that my coworkers had a hard time believing that the mini cupcakes and the regular cupcakes were made of the same stuff. After tasting them myself, they really did have very different flavors – the mini ones were very distinctly cheesecake, while the regular ones had significantly more raspberry (understandable since there was a swirled layer involved), but they also had a much creamier texture. I think that the raspberry swirl would be excellent in a large cheesecake, especially with fresh fruit to stir in. But the little ones did come out adorably.
The chocolate hearts actually have 4 different components to them – a truffle brownie base, 2 sauces (a raspberry coulis – the raspberry sauce from the cheesecake recipe, and a creme anglaise), and orange lace cookie decorations. The recipes for all of these are already up, so I’ll just go over putting the whole thing together, which is actually relatively easy.
First you cut hearts out of the brownies. You can use a cookie cutter, or cut them by hand if you don’t have a heart-shaped cookie cutter in the dimensions you want. You’ll notice that mine are a little on the small side for a major dessert, that was for three reasons. One, I needed to spread one batch of brownies through 25 people, two, I served these in the middle of the day and lunch desserts are generally a bit smaller than dinner ones, and three, since I was serving these with the sauces and cookies, and with the cheesecakes for people to take as well I didn’t want anything to be so big that it would send someone into a sugar/chocolate coma.
Secondly, when I pulled the orange lace cookies out of the oven, instead of letting them harden flat or rolling them into shapes, I took a mini heart cookie cutter and cut out an army of tiny delicate lace hearts. (Tiny, because that’s actually the only heart-shaped cookie cutter I own right now.) Behold my lacey minions…..
Thirdly, plating. My creme anglaise sauce was way to thin to pour on top of the my brownie army and still look edible, so I went with a good old-fashioned splatter pattern. I streaked on raspberry sauce, then followed with streaks of the creme anglaise. The brownies were actually heated before being placed on the plate (with things as dense as these brownies they’re usually better warm) and finally the plate was finished with orange lace hearts. Optional garnishes could have included whole raspberries, mint leaves, or whipped cream, but because I was transporting all of this to work on a bus, I voted to keep it simple.The last step is standing back and letting your creation be admired!
Well, that’s it for Valentine’s Day 2013. These desserts received rave reviews, and my only note was that the brownies were a little bit intense without a lighter sweet factor to help balance them out. If the creme anglaise had thickened more, or if it was replaced by whipped cream or ice cream I think this dessert would have been outstanding.
Regardless, my singular heart cookie cutter can now retire back to its shelf for another year…I’m glad to say the chocolate and raspberries won’t get anywhere near that long off.