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Valentine Chocolate Recipes

Duck Breasts with Blackberry-Chocolate Sauce (Serves 4)
(I have to give credit for the sauce part of this recipe to my partner Dana, who whipped it up one night in a flurry of creativity with delicious results! If you are ever in the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island, stop by Cowichan Bay Farm www.cowichanbayfarm.com to pick up some great duck or chicken products.

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless duck breasts
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries
  • 1/8 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp. cold butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 ounce orange liqueur such as Cointreau or Triple Sec (optional)
  • 1 tbsp. semi-sweet dark chocolate, roughly chopped

For the sauce:

Put the blackberries, sugar and water in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and simmer until the berries have completely broken down. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. Strain the berry mixture into a bowl to remove all the seeds, then return the juice to the pot. Add the balsamic vinegar, the cinnamon and the orange liqueur and simmer over medium heat until reduced by half. Remove from heat, and whisk in the chocolate a little at a time. Then whisk in the butter a half-tablespoon at a time until fully incorporated. Add salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm while you prepare the duck breasts.

Pre-heat oven to 450F, and heat until very hot a cast-iron or oven-safe heavy-bottomed frypan large enough to hold the breasts in one layer. With a sharp knife, score the skin of each duck breast, without cutting through to the flesh, in a diamond-shaped pattern. Season the breasts all over with salt and pepper and lay them skin side down in the frypan. When the skin has become crisp and golden and the fat has rendered out of it, remove the duck to a plate and carefully drain most of the fat from the pan. Put the duck breasts back in, skin side up, and roast in the oven for about 5-7 minutes for medium-rare. Remove from the pan and tent with foil and let rest for a few minutes.

Place each breast on individual plates and pour a little pool of sauce around it. This would go well with a simple green salad and some wild rice. Enjoy!




Valrhona Apple-Hazelnut Flourless Chocolate Cake

This elegant and sumptuous cake keeps overnight, but if eaten while still slightly warm from the oven, it will be a true festival of chocolate, browned apple, and roasted hazelnut flavors. This recipe makes an 8-inch diameter cake, so use an appropriately-sized springform pan.

Serves 6 to 8 chocolate lovers.

Ingredients:

  • 3 apples (Granny Smith or other tart variety), peeled and chopped coarsely
  • 100 g (2/3 cup) hazelnuts (with the skin), chopped
  • 250 g (9 oz) Cara´be couverture, (dark chocolate) 66% cocoa, chopped
  • 150 g (2/3 cup) whipping cream
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon, slightly rounded, cornstarch
  • 3 egg whites
  • 50 g (3 tablespoons) honey
  • Softened butter for the cake pan
  • Powdered sugar
  • Powdered cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Prepare the apples and hazelnuts and set aside. Bring the whipping cream to a boil and pour it over the chopped chocolate. Whisk in the egg yolks and the cornstarch, being careful to avoid lumps.

Add honey to the egg whites and whip to soft peaks. Incorporate a bit of the whipped whites into the still lukewarm cream mixture, using a whisk at first, then incorporate the remaining whites gently with a spatula.

Butter a springform cake pan. Pour in the batter, then sprinkle the chopped apples and hazelnuts over the top. Dust with powdered sugar and powdered cinnamon before baking. After 25 to 30 minutes, a knife inserted in the middle of the cake should come out clean.

Cool on a rack and unmold only after it has cooled to lukewarm. Enjoy it right away, or leave it overnight. Do not refrigerate.







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