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On Valentine's Day, say it with chocolate

Daniel Neman, St. Louis Post-Dispatch on

Published in Entertaining

The crust was simple to pull together: It’s just flour, sugar, cocoa, butter and an egg yolk mixed together and pressed into a tart pan (I’ll admit, my crust stuck pretty firmly to the pan). And the filling was a ganache, and there is nothing easier than a ganache. You just pour hot cream over chocolate until it all blends together.

The secret ingredient is the malted milk powder. I used Ovaltine, which was particularly fitting because the day I made it was the day Cloris Leachman died. Ovaltine also goes into the whipped cream topping.

The malted milk flavor is subtle. It lends just enough of a hint to enrich and enliven the silky smooth, chocolate filling and the crisp, cookie-like crust.

I also made a Chocolate Coeur a la Crème, which is the French version of the chocolate-romance rule. It is a cream heart, and it is light and airy and ethereal and absolutely spectacular.

There are as many ways to make Coeur a la Crème as there are people who know how to pronounce it. I chose a method that guarantees featheriness and delicacy. All you do is fold whipped cream (with vanilla and powdered sugar in it) into a mixture of whipped cream cheese and melted chocolate.

The light sweetness of the whipped cream balances beautifully with the light sourness of the whipped cream cheese, and the chocolate — which is also light —ties it all together with a romantic bow. Chocolate-dipped strawberries lend heft and substance to the dish, along with the complementary flavor of strawberry and a heartier shock of chocolate.

 

The coeur part of Coeur a la Crème means “heart,” because the dish is traditionally made in a heart-shaped mold with holes in the bottom to allow excess liquid to drain out (no liquid at all came out of mine; I think because of the ingredients I used).

I happen to have a Coeur a la Crème mold (I know, right?), but if you don’t, don’t worry. You can make it just as easily in paper cups or other disposable items into which you have poked holes.

My last dessert has the least amount of chocolate, but is also the most fun. It begins with a classic banana split, with vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce, strawberries and optional peanuts. But the bananas are coated in a caramel sauce. And then they are wrapped in a crepe.

From this dish, we learn two important lessons:

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