Valentine's Day is right around the corner. Whether you are trying to forget the holiday or you are pumping up your romance muscles, you cannot possibly ignore the mounds of boxed candies at the grocery store, the cheesy Hallmark cards, and the increased frequency of the Kay Jewelers commercials.
I think most people take issue with Valentine's Day because it is a specific day artificially designated to show your spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend/secret lover (ha!) just how much you care by showering them with expensive gifts or fancy dinners. Frankly, most people don't like to be told what or when to do something, and they also don't feel like they need to go to extreme measures to share their affection. Fair enough. If you are one of these people, then honestly, don't do it. Seriously.
But if you do your best to shun the commercialized products and get over your issues with the big V Day, you just might be able to get to the core of a holiday that is supposed to be only about love. And no matter how big of a scrooge you are, don't try to tell me that spreading a little bit of extra L.O.V.E. around is a bad thing.
Here's what I say: forget about the actual day, and just let it serve as a reminder. Instead of celebrating love only on Valentine's Day, we should use the other 364 days of the year to take the time to show those we love that we care about them and appreciate them. Tell your husband that you love him everyday; hug your kids and tell them how special they are; talk to your mom and tell her how much you miss her; and while we are at it, remind yourself of how amazing you are. These are things that we cannot do often enough.
And since you don't need to wait for Valentine's day to show affection, there is no reason to wait for a special occasion to make this Dark Chocolate Truffle Tart. Sure, chocolate is almost synonymous with Valentine's Day so of course it would be perfect for your sweetheart, but I sort of think that any day is a good day for chocolate. (Please tell me you agree, I will be very sad if you don't.)
If you go ahead and surprise someone with this tart (or um, make it all for yourself?) they will certainly think you are a culinary cupid who has mastered the art of baking; go ahead and let them think that, while you sit comfortably knowing that you produced this luscious dessert without even using a mixer. Yes, you heard me right, all you need is a whisk and a pan and you can deliver up rich, creamy, dark chocolate any day of the week.
Can anyone resist chocolate? I think not. Now go spread some chocolate love.
Thinking you would rather have a different sort of dessert to show your love? Check out one of these other swoon-inducing recipes:
Dark Chocolate Truffle Tart
Adapted from Gourmet
This is dessert is labelled as a tart, but you make it in a springform pan so it is sort of non-traditional. The 'truffle' part of the name comes from the dusting of cocoa powder on the top that is reminiscent of a classic chocolate truffle. The original recipe just calls for dark chocolate, but I tried it with Lindt Excellence 'Hint of Sea Salt' and also Green & Black's 'Maya Gold' and both times it was delicious. This tart is rich, so either serve it in small slices or accompany it with some whipped cream or berries.
3/4 stick butter, melted and cooled
1 3/4 cup chocolate cookie crumbs
2 eggs, plus 1 yolk
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
10 oz dark chocolate, not more than 60% cacao
1 stick butter, cut into small cubes, room temperature
Cocoa powder for dusting on the top
Special Equipment: A 9-inch springform pan*, the bottom wrapped with foil (in case of leaks)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium bowl, mix chocolate cookie crumbs with the melted and cooled butter. Spoon the crumb mixture into the springform pan, and pat the crumbs onto the bottom and about 1 1/2 inch up the sides. (Use a measuring cup or a glass to help press the crumbs on the sides and into the corners.) Bake the crust in the preheated oven for about 10-13 minutes, or until dark and slightly puffed. Cool the crust on a wire rack while you prepare the filling.
To make dark chocolate filling, first whisk together eggs, sugar, heavy cream, salt, and vanilla extract in a large bowl and set it aside. Next, melt chocolate and butter in a heavy pot over medium heat, stirring continuously. When the chocolate is smooth and glossy, remove it from the heat and let it cool for about five minutes. (If you add it directly to the eggs and cream, it could scramble the eggs.) Once the chocolate is cooled, whisk it into the egg mixture until smooth. Don't overdo the whisking, or you will incorporate a lot of air bubbles.
Pour the chocolate filling into the baked and cooled crust, and tap the pan once against the countertop to let any air bubbles come to the surface. Smooth out the top, then put the tart into the oven and bake for about 22-28 minutes; the range of baking time is large because if you take the tart out sooner, the center will be more pudding-like, while if you let it bake longer, the center will set more fully and the consistency of the tart will be uniform from edge to center (this is what I preferred). Fully cool the tart on a wire rack, then chill for an additional 3-4 hours. Sift cocoa powder over the top in a thin layer. Let the tart come to room temperature before slicing to get the best rich, creamy consistency. Tart can be kept chilled for 1 week.
*If you don't have a springform pan, I think you could bake this in a regular 9-inch diameter round baking pan. But, I haven't tried it myself.