Nina’s Tips and Techniques: Valentine’s Day Dessert

I really want to wow my partner with a homemade dessert, but pastry is so intimidating!

Pastry is surely a craft that takes patience and practice, but there is no reason why you should feel intimidated. There are plenty of simple recipes that don’t have a million steps and have an impressive outcome! Plus, Valentines day is about love, so as long as you put some of that into whatever you make it should be great! Simple is always the best in my book. I’d rather someone give me a perfectly crafted, freshly baked chocolate chip cookie than a fancy dessert any day!

I tried to make chocolate dipped strawberries, but the chocolate would not get hard, it just stayed all gooey and looked terrible. What did I do wrong?

Chocolate is a very challenging ingredient to work with. It has over 100 different kinds of fats and they are all soluble at different temperatures. When you melt chocolate it will not re-harden to its original state unless it is tempered – a process of rapidly increasing and decreasing the temperature of the chocolate so that the fats set properly. You can easily find tempering temperatures/instructions on the internet if you want to try this at home! It is actually really fun to learn and can be a cool project to do together with your partner. If you’re not up for experimenting with chocolate, try making a simple chocolate fondue instead. It is so easy, fun, and romantic!

Recipe – So Easy Chocolate Fondue

3/4 cup heavy cream
12 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (finely chopped)
1 Tbsp Cognac, raspberry liqueur, Bailey’s Irish Cream, or other flavored liqueur

Heat cream to simmering in a medium saucepan. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate in a heat proof bowl. Let stand until softened (about 2 minutes). Add Cognac or liqueur and whisk until smooth. Serve right away with fresh cake and berries or fruit for dipping.