Being a chocolate lover for life, it’s hard for me to think of making anything but a chocolate dessert for Valentine’s Day. So every year, I venture to create a dessert that oozes with pure chocolate flavor.
This Sunday, I’ll be serving a dark-chocolate panna cotta to my Valentine – a not-too-sweet, unctuous custard that feels like velvet on your tongue and fills your mouth with deep, rich chocolate flavor.
If this flavor-bomb of a dessert alone isn’t enough to lure you into making it for your own special someone, consider that it takes a mere 15 minutes to prepare! That means you’ll be able to devote more time to your Valentine, and less time fussing in the kitchen.
On a side (if less-romantic) note, I use agar-agar* – a gelatinous substance derived from seaweed – as a thickener in this recipe. It’s very versatile and easy to use, yet extremely powerful, hence my precise measurements in the recipe.
To me, the perfect panna cotta is less than firm – a custard that barely holds together and falls apart as soon as you dig your spoon into it. And it should be creamy to a fault.
Blowing a chocolate wish your way for a sinfully delicious Valentine’s Day!
* Powdered agar-agar can be found in most health food stores.
Alba Vineyard, Red Raspberry Wine
What chocolate is to Valentine’s Day, raspberries are to chocolate! A dessert wine infused with raspberry notes seems de rigueur for this dark-chocolate panna cotta. So what better choice than a wine made entirely of raspberries?
The Alba Vineyard Red Raspberry Wine is a perfect match to today’s dessert. Mine arrived at my door — a gift from my dear friend Robert, who has always been my partner in chocolate crime!
Made entirely with premium whole raspberries, Alba Vineyard’s Red Raspberry Wine is intense and luscious, with pure, unadulterated raspberry notes. It’s a little sweet and yet a little tart. Sipped between spoonfuls of the chocolate panna cotta, its flavor unfolds and deepens. A very pleasing – maybe even addictive – pairing!
Dark chocolate panna cotta with raspberries and acacia-honey syrup
active time: 20 min
For the custard
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1 1/4 cups milk
- 2 tablespoons organic sugar
- 1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon powdered agar-agar
- 8 oz (227gr) semi-sweet chocolate – (preferably Valrhona, Scharffen Berger or Callebaut) cut in 1/4” pieces
For the syrup
- 1/4 cup acacia honey
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 pt fresh raspberries
- fresh mint leaves as garnish
- powdered sugar as garnish
- 6–1/2 cup capacity ramequins
- Step 1: In a medium saucepan combine the cream, milk and sugar. Bring to a boil. Add the agar-agar powder, reduce heat to medium and slow-simmer for 3 minutes, whisking constantly. Remove from heat and add the chocolate pieces. Let stand for 1 to 2 minutes until the chocolate has dissolved, and whisk until well blended.
- Step 2: Pour the custard into the molds, filling them almost to the top and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate the custards for at least 4 hours or overnight, until set.
- Cook’s note: The custards can be refrigerated, covered with plastic wrap, for up to 3 days.
- Step 3: When ready to serve – In a small saucepan, heat the honey and lemon juice over medium heat until warm and liquidy, about 15 seconds (do not boil). Remove from heat and set aside.
- Step 4: Fill a baking dish with hot water. Run a paring knife between each custard and the edge of its mold. Then place the ramequins in the baking dish filled with hot water for 1 minute (this will help loosen the custards and make it easier to unmold them). Remove the ramequins from the hot water bath and wipe the bottoms clean. Invert on a dessert plate and gently shake until the custards slip out of their molds. Top with a few raspberries. Drizzle with the syrup. Garnish with a mint leaf and dust with the powdered sugar. Serve immediately.
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