Valentine's Dessert Ideas To Dazzle Your Loved One(s)

  • by IMAGE

From real labours of love to quick after dinner fixes, here are our favourite recipes to celebrate this day of lurve.

Little Green Spoon Vegan Chocolate Cake 

 

It tastes as good as it looks – super rich and fudgey and the simple ganache icing is just perfect. It’s so silky and looks gorgeous dripping down the edges before it cools.

Ingredients

For the Cakes:

  • 400g dark chocolate
  • 2 & 3/4 cups ground almonds (330g)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar (70g)
  • 1/2 cup ground chia seeds (60g)
  • 360ml water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
  • 6 tablespoons almond milk

For the Icing:

  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 3 tablespoons almond/cashew butter

Preheat the oven to 180’C. In a large bowl combine the ground almonds, baking powder and coconut sugar.

Combine the ground chia seeds and the water and mix well, then set it aside.

Slowly melt the dark chocolate on low heat until smooth. Then, pour it into the ground almonds and mix well. Add the vanilla to the chia seeds and give it another stir until it’s thick, like the texture of a raw egg. Pour it into the chocolate almond mixture and mix really well until smooth.

Gradually add in the almond milk while mixing.

Grease two spring form cake tins with a little coconut oil and then spread the mixture out evenly with a spatula.

Bake each cake at 180’C for about 30 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Set them aside to cool for about 10 minutes before removing them from the tin, then let them cool completely on a wire rack.

When the cakes are cool, slowly melt the dark chocolate for the icing. Then whisk in the nut butter until smooth.

Spread a thin layer over one cake, then place the other cake on top and spoon the rest of the icing into the middle. Use the back of the spoon to swirl the icing outwards, letting it drip over the edges. Decorate more if you like or serve as is.

Roz Purcell’s Berry Quick Sorbet (Half Hour Hero, Penguin Ireland)

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This couldn't be easier... or faster...or healthier... and still looks/tastes wow.

Ingredients

  • 400g frozen berries
  • 4 Tbsp Maple Syrup
  • Juice of one lime

Method

Just blend everything together for 40-60 seconds until smooth, the pour into a small airtight container and freeze for 20 minutes to set.

photo credit: Joanne Murphy

 

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Fresh Strawberry Pie

We ran across this picture on one of our favourite Instagram accounts, @thefeedfeed and have felt like one of those heart-eyed emojis ever since. So we decided to recreate it.

Ingredients

  • 1 kg fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
  •  ¾ cup caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh, strained lemon juice
  •  ¼ cup cornstarch
  • Pinch Maldon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 packages frozen shortcrust pastry
  • Heart biscuit cutters or a sharp knife

Method

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.

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In a large bowl, toss together strawberries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and salt. Set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out one dough round to fit a 9-inch pie dish. Fit the dough in the pie tin and spoon in filling. Scatter butter evenly over the top.

Cut the remaining dough into various size hearts and layer them artfully around the edges of the pie and across the fruit.

Brush the egg lightly over the ‘crust’ and sprinkle with a little extra sugar. Place on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips and bake for 15 minutes. Turn the oven down to 220. Continue baking until pastry is browned and the filling bubbles, 40-50 minutes.

Cool completely on a rack for at least 3 hours.

 

Ottolenghi’s Cinnamon Fig Pavlova (Sweet, Ebury Press)

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This is a stunning dessert for a special occasion. It also has a nice element of surprise, as the meringue base is not quite what you might expect: gooey – almost toffee-like – rather than dry and crispy. This is due to the brown sugar in the mix. Combined with the praline cream and fresh figs, it’s absolutely delicious. Pavlova is the dessert to make when you have a bit of time and are feeding people you adore.

The recipe calls for flaked almonds but you can easily substitute those with chopped pistachios, as photographed.

Ingredients

  • 20g flaked almonds
  • 50g dark cooking chocolate
  • (70% cocoa solids), finely chopped
  • 600g fresh figs, cut into 1cm discs
  • 3 tbsp honey

For the meringue

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  • 125g egg whites (from 3 large eggs)
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 100g dark muscovado sugar
  • 1½ tsp ground cinnamon

For the Praline cream

  • 50g flaked almonds
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 200ml double cream

 

Method

Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C Fan/Gas Mark 3.

Spread out all the almonds (for both the pavlova and the praline, 70g) on a baking tray and toast for 7–8 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven, divide into two piles (20g for the pavlova, 50g for the praline) and set aside to cool.

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Reduce the oven temperature to 120°C/100°C Fan/Gas Mark ½. Cover a large baking tray with baking parchment and trace a circle, about 23cm in diameter, on to the paper. Turn the paper over so the drawn-on side is facing down but still visible.

First make the meringue. Pour enough water into a medium saucepan so that it rises a quarter of the way up the sides: you want the bowl from your electric mixer to be able to sit over the saucepanthe cinnamon and whisk to combine.over the saucepan without touching the water. Bring the water to a boil. Place the egg whites and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk by hand to combine. Reduce the heat under the saucepan so that the water is just simmering, then set the mixer bowl over the pan, making sure the water doesn’t touch the base of the bowl. Whisk the egg whites continuously by hand until they are warm, frothy and the sugar is melted, about 4 minutes, then transfer back to the electric mixer with the whisk attachment in place and whisk on a high speed for about 5 minutes, until the meringue is cool, stiff and glossy. Add the cinnamon and whisk to combine.

Spread the meringue inside the drawn circle, creating a nest by making the sides a little higher than the centre. Place in the oven and bake for 3 hours, then switch off the oven but leave the meringues inside until they are completely cool: this will take about 2 hours. Once cool, remove from the oven and set aside.

Place the chocolate into a small heatproof bowl and set it over a small saucepan of simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl is not touching the water. Stir occasionally until melted. Cool slightly, then brush the chocolate inside the meringue nest, leaving the top and sides bare. Do this gently, as the meringue is fairly delicate. Leave to set for about 2 hours.

Make the praline. Place the 50g toasted almonds on a parchment-lined baking tray (with a lipped edge) and set aside. Put the sugar and water into a small saucepan and place over a medium-low heat, stirring until the sugar has melted. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until it turns a dark golden brown. Pour the caramel over the nuts (don’t worry if they’re not all covered) and leave until completely cool and set. Once cool, transfer the praline to the small bowl of a food processor and blitz until fine.

Place the cream, mascarpone and blitzed praline in a large bowl and whisk for about 1 minute, until stiff peaks form. Be careful not to over-whisk here – it doesn’t take much to thicken up – or it will split. If this begins to happen, use a spatula to fold a little more cream into the mix to bring it back together. Refrigerate until needed.

To assemble, spoon the cream into the centre of the meringue and top with the figs. Warm the honey in a small saucepan and stir through the 20g almonds (or pistachios, as pictured). Drizzle these over the figs, and serve.

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