I know, Valentine's Day was yesterday, but I publish on Thursday: rules are rules! ;D
You must know that my relationship with Valentine's Day has been a kind of on-off. In the past years, I followed different waves depending on the stage of my life. Today, I will tell you the story of my Valentines. Follow me till the end: there is a special recipe created for my beloved readers :)
From 7 to 11 years old: the dream of Valentine's
When I was a kid (in Italy, during the roaring ’80), Valentine's Day existed just in TV shows. Valentine was not celebrated at all at home. Nothing against it, it was simply not part of our culture and passed completely ignored. I became acquainted with Valentine thanks to my favorite Japanese cartoons, where young girls used to make heart-shaped chocolate to be donated to their sweetheart. And, in front of the screen, I dreamed that one day I would have made some special chocolate cake for someone special (but, probably, I mostly liked the idea of the heart-chocolate treat...).
The roaring years as teenager: the opportunity of Valentine's
When I was a teen, I wasn't allowed to go out very often and stay too late (my curfew was set at midnight, as Cinderella...). So, Valentine's Day became an excellent opportunity to dine out with the boyfriend in office. Of course, we were buying and exchanging corny presents that, after the first few days, ended up sitting on a shelf, collecting dust.
Adult life: the rejection of Valentine's
High school was over, the University era started. My desire of independence grew at the same pace of my unconventionality. Valentine's Day to me? A commercial celebration, devoid of any meaning after 17-18 years old! I recall, instead, celebrating with my friends Feb 15th, which, according to rumors, was singles' day (or maybe, we just needed an opportunity to party :)).
However, my reluctance for that celebration, symbolized by little hearts and chocolate, found its climax during my Finnish time, from 24 to 29 years old. I settled myself in the beautiful Great North, surrounded by few good friends and 20000 reindeer. Valentine's Day was something like -20 ˚C, with a meter of snow. But the worst part was being in a long-distance relationship. Spending Feb 14th with a boyfriend 3000 Km far away was like entering a pastry shop when you are on a low-carbs diet :P. Furthermore, I wondered how all couples were so enthusiastic about dining out in one of the worst day of the year:
- Crowded restaurants
- Poorer services
- Higher prices
- Ridiculous set menus
"We are adult and independent", I was telling myself, "we can go out whenever we want!" Moreover, I found Valentine's such a discriminatory day: singles or people on a long-distance relationship (ah!) do not celebrate :P
The Canadian time: the revival of Valentine's Day
In 2011, I moved to Canada and I moved on. In North America, Valentine's Day is extremely popular. Once Christmas time is over, the shops get populated by little hearts, chocolate (heart-shaped, of course! :D), red roses and so on.
So, I met a guy. A romantic one. And maybe because of him, I started to revive Valentine...or maybe I was just getting older and the experiences made me softer. I began to think that, after all, there was nothing wrong in buying a little thought for someone you care about. I must say that in North America, Valentine's day is not only dedicated to lovers, but, in general to all people caring about each other: family, friends...a very democratic view, I must say, which made me more open to this celebration.
Meanwhile, the boyfriend became my lovely hubby, and in 2017 we got a little princess. Great happiness. But among diapers, baby food and first teeth, the romance fades a bit. Eventually, I gave up my unconventionality: Valentine's Day is after all a great moment to remember that parenthood is great, but also the couple is important.
No wonder Valentine's Day is a great marketing business, but tell me which celebration isn't: Christmas, Easter, Mother and Father's Day...
And well, also this year it was Valentine and we celebrated! But no dining out, it's my fundamental point :)
The dessert I am presenting you is a very rich (what a surprise!:)) a chocolate pudding (actually more similar to a foundant au chocolat...), topped with a strawberry mousse. The last one should have been prepared with my new siphon. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to filter all the seeds out and, to avoid blocking the device, I made the mousse using the traditional whisker :P As a rule of thumb, please, remember: no solid parts in the siphon. I think next time I will use some other fruit or I will get rid of the external peel that is the one containing the seeds in strawberries.
Enough chatting now, let's get straight to business (or dessert). Even if Valentine is over, this is still a great dessert that you can serve during other occasions.
Valentine's Dessert (doses for 4 persons)
For the chocolate pudding
- 100 g of dark chocolate
- 200 g of fresh cream (32-35% in fats)
- 1 tea spoon of sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 drops of vanilla extract
For the strawberry mousse
- 250 g of strawberries
- 50 g of sugar
- 200 g of fresh cream (32-35% in fats)
- 8 g of gelatin in powder
- 50 g of cold water
- 50 g of hot water
Prepare the pudding. Pour the cream in a pot and bring it to boil. Remove the cream from the stove and add the dark chocolate to it. Stir vigorously, in order to get a smooth ganache. Leave it on a side to cool down.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven at 160 ˚C. Add the vanilla and the egg to the pudding. Stir it vigorously and pour it in 4 single-portion ceramic pots. Bake for about 20 min. After that time, remove the puddings from the oven and let them cool down.
Prepare the mousse. Rehydrate the gelatin in cold water. Then, dissolve it in hot water. Blend the strawberries with cream and sugar. Pour the mixture in a large bowl and whip it with an electric whisker. Add the warm gelatin slowly and under constant stirring.
Top the puddings with the mousse. Transfer the desserts in the fridge and leave them there for 2-3 hours before serving. You can decorate them with some blueberries, as shown in pics.
A little riddle: I wanted to whip the cream-strawberry mixture to make a chantilly. The mass didn't whip eventually and I had to add gelatin to turn it into a mousse. Why do you think I wasn't able to whip it? What have I done wrong? Try to guess in the comments :) A little hint from this post.