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5 Valentine's recipes for chocolate lovers

5 Valentine's recipes for chocolate lovers
Nothing says "I love you" to a chocolate lover like a lovingly prepared indulgent treat. Here are five of the best recipes.

Chocolate torte

A dream for chocolate fans! If you use chocolate with the highest possible cocoa content, the cream will be beautifully dark and have an intense chocolate taste. Serves 12
  • 200 g (7 oz) dark chocolate (at least 60 per cent cocoa), chopped 
  • 100 g (31⁄2 oz) butter, chopped 
  • 6 very large eggs 
  • 150 g (5 oz) sugar 
  • 4 tablespoons brandy 
  • 1 cup (100 g) almond meal (ground almonds) 
  • 50 g (13 ⁄4 oz) cornflour (cornstarch) 
For the chocolate cream: 
  • 300 g (10 oz) dark chocolate (at least 60 per cent cocoa), chopped 
  • 250 g (8 oz) butter, softened 
  • 300 ml (10 fl oz) pouring cream 
  • 190 g (61⁄2 oz) icing (confectioners’) sugar 
  • 4 tablespoons brandy 
For the garnish 
  • chocolate leaves (ready-made or homemade; see page 13) 
  • unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting 
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/ Gas 4). Grease a 25 cm (10 inch) springform cake tin. 
2. To make the sponge cake, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Add the butter and stir until melted. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little. In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar to a thick, pale cream; then add the brandy 1 tablespoonful at a time. Fold in the chocolate, almond meal and cornflour. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the centre of the oven for 1 hour. Cool in the tin on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then turn out onto the rack and leave to cool for at least 2 hours. 
3. To make the chocolate cream icing, heat the cream in a small saucepan until just below boiling point. Remove from the heat, add the chocolate and stir until melted. Allow to cool, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour. 
4. Stir together the butter and icing sugar until creamy. Beat the chocolate cream with an electric mixer until creamy, then stir into the butter mixture 1 tablespoonful at a time. 
5. Cut the cake in half horizontally. Drizzle the cut surfaces with brandy. Spread the lower half of the cake with half of the chocolate cream, and cover with the top of the cake. Spread the top and side of the cake with the remaining chocolate cream. Garnish the edge of the cake with chocolate leaves and dust the centre with cocoa powder.

Bittersweet chocolate cheesecake

chocolate cheesecake
Serves up to 16
  • 1 cup (100 g) chocolate wafer crumbs 
  • 1⁄2 cup (60 g) finely chopped toasted hazelnuts 
  • 85 g (3 oz) butter, melted 
  • 700 g (24 oz) cream cheese, softened 
  • 1 cup (220 g) sugar 
  • 350 g (12 oz) chocolate (at least 70 per cent cocoa), melted and cooled 
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten 
  • 1 cup (8 oz) sour cream 
  • 11⁄2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon almond extract 
  • pinch salt 
For the glaze 
  • 125 g (4 oz) chocolate (at least 70 per cent cocoa) 
  • 1⁄4 cup (60 ml) thickened (heavy/ double) whipping cream 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • whipped cream and toasted chopped hazelnuts (optional) 
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). In a small bowl, combine the wafer crumbs and hazelnuts. Stir in the butter and press the mixture into the bottom of an ungreased 23 cm (9 inch) springform cake tin. 
2. In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add the chocolate, then the eggs, and beat on low speed until just combined. Add the sour cream, extracts and salt, and beat until just blended. Pour over the crust. 
3. Place the tin on a baking tray and bake for 60–65 minutes, or until the centre is almost set. Cool in the tin on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around the edge of the tin to loosen the cake. Cool for a further hour, then cover and refrigerate for 3 hours. 
4. For the glaze, melt the chocolate with the cream, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. 
5. Remove the side of the tin. Spread the glaze over the top of the cheesecake. Refrigerate overnight. Garnish with whipped cream and hazelnuts if desired. Store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. 

Chocolate brandy squares

chocolate brandy squares
  • 2 ⁄ 3 cup (110 g) pitted prunes 
  • 100 ml (31⁄2 fl oz) brandy or port 
  • 125 g (4 oz) butter, diced 
  • 150 g (5 oz) dark chocolate (70 per cent cocoa), roughly chopped 
  • 2 cups (460 g) caster (superfine) sugar 
  • 450 g (1 lb) plain (all-purpose) flour 
  • 75 g (21⁄2 oz) self-raising flour 
  • 85 g (3 oz) unsweetened cocoa powder 
  • 1 whole egg plus 2 egg whites, lightly beaten together 
  • icing (confectioners’) sugar or cocoa powder, to serve 
1. Put a kettle of water on to boil. Heat the oven to 160°C (320°F/Gas 2–3). Grease a 23 cm (9 inch) square cake tin and line with baking (parchment) paper. 
2. Purée the prunes in a food processor or electric mixer, adding 1 tablespoon hot water if needed to get a smooth purée. Scrape the purée into a large bowl. Add the brandy, butter, chocolate, sugar and 1 cup (250 ml) boiling water. 
3. Pour the rest of the boiling water into a saucepan, bring to a simmer over low heat and place the bowl on top. Ensure the bottom does not touch the water. 
4. Stir frequently until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth. Take the bowl off the pan and leave the mixture to cool for 2–3 minutes, or until lukewarm. 
5. Sift the flours and cocoa into a separate large bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour in the chocolate mixture, then add the egg mixture and beat until smooth. 
6. Pour into the prepared tin and smooth the surface. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. 
7. Cool in the tin on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then turn out onto the wire rack to cool completely. Dust the cake with sifted icing sugar or cocoa and cut into 16 squares. This cake will keep well if wrapped in foil.

Chocolate, cherry and coconut bites

chocolate cherry coconut bites recipe
Dried mixed berries are a combination of dried cranberries, strawberries and blueberries. Look for them in large supermarkets. They can be replaced with dried cherries or dried cranberries. Makes about 50.
  • 250 g (8 oz) glacé (candied) cherries 
  • 150 g (5 oz) dried mixed berries (see note) 
  • 11⁄2 cups (120 g) desiccated coconut 
  • 1 cup (50 g) shredded coconut 
  • 11⁄2 cups (185 g) icing (confectioners’) sugar 
  • 1⁄2 cup (175 g) sweetened condensed milk 
  • 1 eggwhite 
  • 400 g (14 oz) dark chocolate 
  • 11⁄2 teaspoons vegetable oil 
1. Line the base and two long sides of a 17 x 28 cm (61⁄2 x 11 inch) baking tin with baking (parchment) paper. Process the cherries and dried berries in a food processor for 30 seconds, or until finely chopped. Add the desiccated and shredded coconut, sugar, condensed milk and eggwhite and process for 30 seconds, or until combined. 
2. Press into the prepared tin. Smooth the top with a hot knife or spatula. Cover and refrigerate for 6 hours, or until just firm. Using a sharp knife, cut into 50 rectangles, each about 2.5 x 4 cm (1 x 11⁄2 inches). Alternatively, roll into balls and refrigerate to set. 
3. Combine the chocolate and oil in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir until melted and smooth. Cool for 5 minutes. Using a fork, dip the cherry bites in the melted chocolate. Place on wire racks set over a tray. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until set. Store the chocolates in an airtight container in the fridge or a cool, dry place for up to 1 week. 

Dark chocolate pots with white chocolate cream

This silky, rich dessert of dark and white chocolate wouldn’t look out of place in a restaurant, yet it’s unbelievably easy and quick to make at home. Dark chocolate with 70 per cent cocoa will give this dessert the best flavour. Serves 6.
  • 200 g (7 oz) dark chocolate (70 per cent cocoa), chopped 
  • 13 ⁄4 cups (425 ml) low-fat ready-made custard or vanilla crème anglaise (at room temperature) 
  • 1 tablespoon brandy 
  • 1⁄2 cup (125 ml) cream 
  • 30 g (1 oz) white chocolate, finely grated 
1. Put six ramekins, small glass dishes or shallow tumblers in the freezer to chill. 
2. Melt the dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Stir until melted and smooth — this will take about 3 minutes. 
3. Pour in about one-third of the custard or crème anglaise and stir lightly. The chocolate will begin to thicken and become glossy, so do not overmix — a couple of large scooping stirs are enough. Pour in all the remaining custard and stir to combine it with the chocolate. Stir in the brandy. The mixture will thicken as the chocolate cools. 
4. Spoon mixture into the chilled ramekins. Put in the freezer to chill for 20 minutes, or until set. 
5. Whip the cream until it just begins to thicken and hold its shape. Stir in the grated white chocolate and chill the cream until needed. Spoon the cream onto the chocolate pots and serve immediately. 

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