Valentine treats. Nothing says Valentine’s Day more than chocolate

Valerie O’Connor goes for dark beans, dark chocolate and decadent truffles on lover’s day.

When we think about the impending big day for lovers we might break out in a sweat.

The pressure is on to take your significant other out to dinner and impress with romantic gestures of expensive food and wine, served under pressure on the busiest restaurant day of the year.

I’d much rather have a meal cooked for me than be taken out, (unless of course it’s Loam, Noma, Aniar or 1826). 

When somebody cooks for you, especially if you are head of catering at home, as I am, then it’s an even bigger deal.

Being off meat has ups and downs, but the very positive side of the meatless coin is that veggie meals are far less heavy, so you won’t be sitting there, bursting out of the Agent Provocateur under your dress.

You can happily take your activities from the table to the bedroom without having to sip mint tea for an hour in between. 

There’s no need for starters, when a glass of bubbly with some berries dipped in melted dark chocolate will take you straight to the top of the charts.

Chocolate Black Bean Molé

Nothing says Valentine’s Day more than chocolate, you can’t walk down the street without seeing enormous slabs of sugary versions of one of the world’s finest fermented foods. 

Dark chocolate is a great cooking ingredient, and not just for desert. 

It adds a depth and richness to a dish, something that can be lacking in a lot of vegetarian food.

Chocolate and chilli are a match made in heaven and you can enjoy this Mexican molé below with some flour tortillas and fresh, chunky guacamole. 

Serve it up as tortillas or on ‘bowls’ of babygem lettuce that can be picked up and popped into your mouth. 

Softly spicy and warming, this is a variation of a recipe by Heidi Swanson, it has body, is filling, and has an edgy flavour profile. 

You can have it with rice or cornbread or on corn tortillas with some tahini sauce drizzled on top, or served with pittas, guacamole, sauerkraut and lettuce.

Ingredients

  • 1lb black turtle beans (available in Dunnes and health food shops), soaked overnight in water 
  • 2 tblsp olive oil 2 onions —chopped 
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped 
  • 2 tblsp chili powder 
  • 1 tblsp ground cumin 
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon 
  • 4.5 cups water 
  • 12oz bottle stout 
  • 1 bar of dark chocolate 
  • Sea salt

Method

Heat the oil in a large pot and fry the onions and garlic on a low heat for a few minutes, add the spices and cook for another few minutes.

Add the beans, beer and water and bring the whole lot to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer on a medium heat for about an hour, if it looks like it’s drying out then add more water.

When the beans are tender, turn off the heat and add the grated chocolate and give it a gentle stir, now season carefully with sea salt, you need enough to bring up all the flavours. 

Like all slow-cooked food this tastes better the next day and will keep for up to three days in the fridge, otherwise freeze any leftovers.

No cook chocolate truffles

Once again I turn to the legends that are the Happy Pear for this recipe, which I have made many times already. 

Easy peasy — and the delicious truffles can be kept for several days in the fridge so you don’t have to stress about desert. 

You can just use goji berries if you want to stick with the red theme for love. 

The lads suggest bee pollen, but I use coconut as it’s easier to get.

Ingredients

  • 85g coconut oil 
  • 60g ground almonds 
  • 40g cocoa powder ( I use Green and Blacks) 
  • 120g honey or maple syrup 
  • 1/2 tsp 
  • sea salt 
  • 1 tblsp vanilla extract 

Toppings 

  • 4 tblsp chopped up goji berries 
  • 4 tblsp chopped up pistachios 
  • 4 tblsp desiccated coconut

Method

Heat the coconut oil slowly and then add in all the other ingredients, stirring gently so that everything is well mixed and pop it into a bowl with a lid and into the freezer for about 20 minutes. 

Don’t leave it too long or it will be too set to work with.

Spoon out the mixture and roll it into mouth-sized balls laying them on a board. 

Now get three small plates and use these for your toppings, dividing your truffles into three, roll them in the toppings until they are evenly coated. 

You will now have an impressive and pretty collection of home-made chocolates — if that doesn’t impress your date, nothing will. Happy Valentine’s Day.

For lovers of fermented foods check out Val’s next batch of classes at www.valskitchen.com 



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