Fudge-Filled Chocolate Heart Cakes for Valentine’s Day

5 02 2012

Mmm, So Decadent....

This weekend, while everybody else is making Superbowl food, I am looking ahead to the next big food event. Valentine’s Day. It’s been a while since I made a new romantic chocolate treat, and it’s time. I’ve been slacking off, resorting to boxed chocolates or candy for a couple of years.

It has been, and continues to be a good excuse to go out to eat. But this year, I may save room for my own dessert, waiting at home.

Valentine’s is a chocolate holiday. Champagne is good, too, but I’m sure that just about everyone in a relationship will be sharing something chocolate  on the big day. If you haven’t heard, chocolate is the healthy food that tickles the cannabinoid receptors in your brain, supposedly giving you a high in the same way that marijuana does. They also say it creates some chemistry that is similar to falling in love. It’s also full of antioxidants and heart-healthy phytochemicals, so we can feel good about eating some on a special occasion.

For this tasty cake, I wanted to try out my latest fun food, chia seeds. I have been remiss in not trying them in baking sooner, and have been playing with them for a while. Like ground flax, they have a magical ability to replace eggs. Just grind them in a spice or coffee grinder, then mix with water. Then, the rest of the time, add them to smoothies, hot cereal, and puddings. If you don’t have chia, just use flax.

Fudge Filled Chocolate Hearts

I have heart shaped ramekins that hold a little more than a large muffin cup, so you could make 6 cupcakes with this recipe. I made five cakes. Depending on how much time you have, you can either eat them warm, right out of the oven, and they will be like molten chocolate cakes, or you can chill them , trim them, and coat them with ganache or glaze for a showy presentation. If you want to use edible red flowers, like nasturtiums, or raspberries or strawberries, put them on the ganache while still fluid.

FILLING:

1/2 box mori-nu firm silken tofu (6 ounces)

1/2 cup brown rice syrup

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup1 tablespoon arrowroot

vegan chocolate chips, melted

CAKE:

1 tablespoon chia seeds, ground

1/4 cup non-dairy milk

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/4 cup extra dark cocoa (you can use regular cocoa, too)

1 pinch salt 1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup canola oil

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon cider vinegar

1/4 cup non-dairy milk

oil for ramekins

GANACHE AND GLAZE

1 1/4 cup vegan chocolate chips or chopped chocolate

5 tablespoons non-dairy milk

1/2 cup vegan powdered sugar

milk, to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Make the filling. In a food processor, puree the tofu until smooth, scraping down repeatedly. Once it is pureed, add the rice syrup, vanilla and starch and process until well mixed, scraping down a few times. Melt the chocolate, and add it quickly to the puree, then process to incorporate smoothly. Transfer to a piping bag of a large zip-top bag. Reserve.

2.  In a cup, stir the ground chia with the first measure of non-dairy milk, then let stand. It will thicken. In a large bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder and soda. Whisk to mix. In a medium bowl , mix the oil, maple, vanilla, vinegar, and remaining non-dairy milk. Stir the chia mixture into that and then add it all to the dry mixture. Stir until well-mixed but don’t over-stir.

3. Use a heaping 1/4 cup of batter in each ramekin, and use your wet finger to push it out to the edges. Then, cut the corner off of the plastic bag of filling, and stick the tip into the center of the ramekin, pushing it almost to the bottom. Squeeze the bag to pipe the filling into the center of the batter. Do this with each cake, there will be plenty of filling, and you can pipe more in if there is some left over.

Piping in the Fudgy Filling

4. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until the cake and filling puff up, and a toothpick inserted in the cake part comes out dry. Cool on racks. If you want to eat them now, just dust with powdered sugar and dive in.

5. For ganache, melt chocoalte and non-dairy milk together, stirring until smooth. Let cool slightly as you flip the cakes out of their ramekins and trim the cake flush with the filling with a serrated knife. Place upside down on serving plates and coat with ganache. Mix powdered sugar with enough non-dairy milk to make a drizzle, then decorate the cakes on the plates.

Warm Out of the Oven, MMMM

Heart Full of Fudge





Raise a Glass of Bubbly, with Extra Fruit, for New Years!

26 12 2011

Fruit and Bubbly, Meant for Each Other

I think it’s no secret, I love a Nice Glass of Wine. In fact, at one point I noticed that almost all of the photos of me on Facebook depicted me holding a glass, and I promise that it is because the snaps are taken at festive moments, not because I always have a glass of wine in my hand. Honestly.  But this time of year, we all have parties and dinners to attend, and to be honest, alcohol has its downsides. In moderation, it can be a healthy thing, and the current science shows that a little drinking prolongs life. Maybe it’s because we relax and loosen up a little, and bond with the people around us.

It’s that moderation thing that seems to get people in trouble.

So, you have a few options, when it comes to drinking in a healthy way. Because it’s so easy to quaff a tasty drink quickly, I like to make mine weak. A personal favorite is to mix my wines, which are relatively low alcohol to begin with, with fruit. It’s a healthy way to have each glass contain less alcohol, as well as keep you busy eating the wine-soaked fruit. Have a few bites of cracker or some nuts in between, and you will keep the consumption down.

A great side benefit of this kind of mixing is that you can start with a relatively inexpensive wine, too. No need to go to that $50 bottle of champagne when you are making a sparkling cocktail. A $10 bottle of Prosecco will be fine.

A classic combo like the bellini is a common theme at my house. You can make a fruit puree, like the peach puree of the original bellini recipe. It’s easy, and I have made bellinis with everything from rhubarb to mango, whatever is in season. Just peel it and chunk it and put it in a pan with some sweetener, organic sugar is easiest, agave, works, too. Frozen fruit will do in a pinch. Boil and stir until the fruit is soft, then puree. Adjust with a squeeze of lemon or more sweet, if needed, and there you go. I’ve also made purees of raw fruit, when its really good.

Not up for that? Put a handful of fresh pomegranate seeds, raspberries, halved grapes, or sweet pitted fresh cherries in each glass and top with prosecco or cava. Add some juice to make it sweeter and more fruity-Apple cider and minced apples make a great spritzer, topped with sparkling wine. The bonus with small berries and pomegranate seeds is that the bubbles from the sparkling wine make them float up and then drop, making your drink lively and pretty.

For a great red wine version of the same idea, go for sangria, or mulled cider and wine. Sangria is basically red or white wine, with lots of chopped oranges, lemons and whatever else suits your fancy, cut with some ginger ale or club soda. Most recipes call for some liquor, but just leave that out. I know it’s kind of a summer drink, but why not? Add pears and apples for a wintry feel. Mulled cider and wine is perfect for the season, with spices, hot cider and just enough red wine to give it a little character. Leave it on the stove long enough, and the alcohol may well evaporate, anyway!

All of these drinks have official recipes somewhere, just google. Just ignore that part where you are supposed to add some liqueur to the mix. It not only adds alcohol and sugar, but usually tastes unnatural. These fresh drinks taste like wine and real fruit, no fake flavors. Stay away from adding shots of strong spirits, when you make something tasty and fruity, or people may not realize that they are guzzling hard liquor until it is too late.

Of course, you can use sparkling cider or de-alcoholized wines, too. Sober people deserve interesting cocktails, and you may just want to alternate non-alcohlic drnks with your occasional alcoholic one. I like to set this up with some flexibility, It’s easy to have sparkling cider right next too the prosecco, and just have your pitcher of fruit puree to add to the glass.

Bellinis all Around!

 

Bellini for Lightweights

Puree ripe mango, kiwi, or raspberries with sweetener, or cook some frozen fruit with sweetener and puree.

Mix 1/3 of a glass of fruit and 2/3 prosecco or cava. If you are a real lightweight, go for half and half.

Stir carefully, it will foam up and out of the glass. I often find it is best to use a large-bowl glass, like a cabernet glass, so you have room to stir and bubble. You will get more aroma that way, too.

For a crowd, you can also mix it in a pitcher.

Basic Sangria with Variations

If citrus isn’t your thing, try it with Pears and apples floating in the wine, or those expensive imported bing cherries at the market, with cherry juice instead of orange.

Serves about 4

1 Bottle of red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Rioja reds, Zinfandel, Shiraz)

2 Oranges, juiced

1 Lemon cut into wedges

1 Orange cut into wedges

2 Tbsp sugar or agave, to taste

2 Cups ginger ale or club soda

Choose your Fruit, Add Red Wine








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