Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Valentine's Sweet Treat


I love the Barefoot Contessa. I'm so glad that she entered my life. She's not afraid of a shortcut like canned tomatoes; a necessary evil if you have kids (which I do) and even if you like to shop fresh and local (which I also do). Tomatoes just aren't always in season. However, her shortcuts never involve cream soups or anything with the word "Helper" or "Roni" in the title.

This dessert is a keeper and it's what I'll be serving my husband and two boys tomorrow night.

Note: I know you might be inclined to use any ice cream and skip her use of Haagen-Dazs, but don't. It's the only commonly available ice cream which does not use high fructose corn syrup to sweeten it. Of course, you can find other options at Whole Foods (I buy a local product there called Moutain Jim's - a little wierd for an ice cream name, but it's great!), but for those of you with no Whole Foods around, get the Haagen-Dazs.

CHOCOLATE GANACHE HEART CAKE - Serves 6
1/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 16-ounce can Hershey's chocolate syrup
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
FOR THE GANACHE:
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 ounces good semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
Easy Crème Anglaise (recipe follows)
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch heart-shaped cake pan, then line the bottom with parchment paper.
2. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Lower the speed and add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each egg. Mix in the chocolate syrup and vanilla. Add the flour and mix until just combined. Don't overbeat, or the cake will be tough. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until just set in the middle. Don't overbake! Let cool thoroughly in the pan.
3. For the ganache, heat the heavy cream, chocolate chips, and instant coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water just until the chocolate melts and the ganache is smooth and warm, stirring occasionally.
4. Place the cake upside down on a wire rack and pour the warm glaze evenly over the top, making sure to cover the entire cake and sides. You can tilt the rack to smooth the glaze. Transfer to a serving plate and serve with Easy Crème Anglaise. Do not refrigerate the cake after it's glazed.
EASY CRÈME ANGLAISE
1 pint Häagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream
Place the ice cream in the refrigerator for several hours until completely melted. Serve as a cold sauce on the plate with a slice of cake on top.

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