A Valentine's Menu: Part 3

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Whew! Just under the wire – here’s the Valentine’s dessert to make a perfect ending to this year’s dinner. I had to experiment with three ideas (darn), but this one was it! The rules were: it had to have chocolate in it (my husband’s rule), had to be made ahead (my rule), and most of all, it had to be so irresistible that after the lovely salad, the scallops and couscous, and a surprise appetizer - a small cheese plate, you really still just HAD to have it.

The big reveal: Cream Puffs with Ice Cream and Hot Chocolate Sauce – ok, it probably needs a shorter name, but that’s what it is, and it is divine!

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The cream puffs are just pate choux pastry, the same basic dough from another blog recipe for Gouyeres, just add a pinch of sugar and lose the cheese! The pastries are really easy: melt butter in water and milk, add flour, beat in eggs, bake, cool, and store until you need them. They keep well for a couple of days. Next make a simple chocolate sauce, it’s in the cookbook (p.148), and you whip it up in the blender. Put it in the fridge until you need it. Incidentally this sauce makes a nice little gift, if you put it in a pretty jar and add a label. The sauce can be adapted if you want by adding a bit of instant coffee for a mocha sauce, which I did, or a liqueur for a more grown-up version. Finally pick an ice cream flavor that you love. For a Valentine’s theme it should probably be pink, like strawberry or peppermint, but I just happen to have the biggest crush on coffee ice cream in the world. So I made up for the lack of pinkness with sliced strawberries with a little drizzle of the chocolate sauce.  Yum.

Now it’s Valentine’s night and you are ready to impress and enjoy. Maybe you’ll start with a glass of bubbly and a pretty little cheese plate. Your beautiful salad is all set to assemble in a minute and then devour. The scallops and couscous, with about one second of prep time are ready to hit the skillet – you could have even made the couscous ahead of time, I’m not personally so organized. This happens while your honey, friends, or whoever is lucky enough to spend the evening with you is opening a lovely bottle of wine. You’ll barely have time to have a sip before the main course is on the table. Relax, enjoy, and except praise, knowing that your dessert will be just over the top in WOW factor. Congratulations, you are a Valentine’s Super Star.

 Cream Puffs with Ice Cream and Hot Chocolate Sauce

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 Ingredients

Cream Puffs

¼ cup water

2 Tbsp milk or ½ & ½

3 Tbsp butter

½ cup flour

½ tsp salt

½ tsp sugar

2 eggs

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 Chocolate Sauce

½ lb semi sweet chocolate chips

1 Tbsp butter

1 cup hot ½ & ½  (heat in microwave, don’t boil)

Optional: 1 Tbsp instant coffee powder or liqueur

 


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Directions

Make pastries. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small saucepan, combine the water, milk, butter, and bring to a boil.

Remove from heat and add flour, salt and sugar.

Stir it in with a wooden spoon until a smooth dough forms and pulls away from the pan, about a minute.

Let cool for a minute or two. Beat the eggs into the dough, 1 at a time, beating thoroughly between each one.

Transfer the dough to a baggie and cut a hole in the tip. Pipe 2-inch diameter mounds onto the baking sheet, 2 inches apart. 

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Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake another 10 minutes.

Turn the oven off and leave pastries in for another 10 minutes.

Remove from oven, cool and store in a dry container.

(The recipe made 9, but I ate one and told my husband it made 8 – you can do that too.)

Make chocolate sauce. Put all sauce ingredients in the blender and blend for about 30 seconds.

Store in the fridge in a container that is microwave safe for heating. I use a glass jar.

To serve: Split cream puffs in half and add a scoop of ice cream to each. (2 puffs per person). Replace tops and pour warmed chocolate sauce over the top.

Optional garnishes: strawberries and/or toasted almonds

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© Deer One Publishing 2019