So smack dab in the middle of the shortest month of the seemingly longest season of the year is a day that you either love or hate. Valentine’s Day. Ideally, on such a day, one dines deliciously and decadently—a late-night dinner, fine wines, a lavish dessert, a lit fire and perhaps a box of chocolate and rose petals… But let’s face it. So in the face of the month of love, this February, we asked three of our favorite, talented Albuquerque pastry chefs to share with us a romantic dessert creation. Because truly, a day spent in the kitchen baking an indulgent, sweet and delicious treat is inevitably and wonderfully romantic, no matter how you look at it…or who you share it with (or don’t).
Chef Lilly Quiroz of Hotel Andaluz keeps it “Spanish, romantic and fancy” with her Leche Frita; Chef Willem Blom of Flying Star Café generously shares his Chocolate Crème Brulee with Grand Marnier and Raspberries; and from Heather Guay at Los Poblanos, a “subtle, sophisticated and sexy” Hazelnut Cake with Elderberry Poached Pear.
Sometimes cupid’s darts simply strike us in the guise of a spoon.
Leche Frita for Valentines Day
Compliments of Chef Lilly Quiroz, Hotel Andaluz
For the Leche Frita:
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sugar
½ cup cornstarch
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
3 cups milk
The zest of one orange
Pinch of salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon butter
1 cup flour
3 eggs, beaten
Desired frying oil—I prefer peanut oil
In a bowl, whisk the two eggs to a ribbon stage. In a saucepot add all of your ingredients except the butter and include your beaten eggs. The sauce will thicken and make sure to continue to whisk so that it will not stick to the pot or burn. On ce it has thickened add your butter.
Spray a shallow pan with nonstick spray, then transfer your custard to the pan. Wrap with plastic to protect it from the air, then cool it down for about 2 hours or overnight. Cut the custard into heart shapes using a heart shaped cookie cutter.
Heat your frying oil. Place your flour, beaten eggs and panko in three separate bowls. Roll the cut custard into the flour shaking off the excess. Then toss in the beaten eggs. Finally toss in the panko breadcrumbs. Deep-fry them until your crust becomes golden brown, just a few minutes. Serve with a strawberry sauce, chocolate or any desired sauce.
To make the Strawberry Coulis:
1 cup frozen unsweetened strawberries
½ cup sugar
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
In a medium saucepan, combine the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Transfer to a blender. Puree until smooth, run through a fine mesh strainer, and set aside to cool. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
To make the chocolate sauce:
8 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup light corn syrup
Place chocolate in a bowl. In a medium saucepan bring to a simmer cream and corn syrup. Pour the heated cream mixture over the chocolate and allow it to sit for 3 to 4 minutes, or until chocolate has melted. Whisk to combine. Allow the sauce to cool slightly, then pour into a bowl or other container. Enjoy!
Chocolate Crème Brulee with Grand Marnier and Raspberries
Compliments of Chef Willem Blom, Flying Star Cafés
Makes 6 large ramekins or 10 small ramekins
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate or bitter sweet chocolate
8 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
3 cups heavy cream
1 shot glass of Grand Marnier
Additional sugar for caramelizing
2 medium mixing bowls
9 x 13 baking pan
Preheat oven to 250º. Place chocolate chips in a mixing bowl. In another mixing bowl, mix egg yolks and sugar until smooth. In a saucepan, bring cream to a boil, pour hot cream over chocolate chip and stir to melt chocolate. Add a little bit of hot chocolate to yolks and stir to temper them, then slowly add the rest stir but do not whip in air, add in the Grand Marnier and stir, cover and refrigerate. This can be done a day ahead of time.
Place ramekins in a baking pan and fill with Chocolate Crème Brulee mixture. Fill baking pan with warm water half way up to ramekin. Place in oven and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour. Cool down.
Sprinkle sugar over the top and using a blowtorch to caramelize the sugar. Garnish with raspberries, whipped cream and a mint leaf.
Hazelnut Cake with Elderberry Poached Pear
Compliments of Chef Heather Guay, Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm
To make the Hazelnut Paste:
250 grams (1.06 cups) sugar
75 grams (.32 cups) honey
100 (.42 cups) grams water
500 grams (2.11 cups) whole hazelnuts
50 grams (.21 cups) simple syrup
50 grams (.21 cups) butter
Place the sugar, honey and water in a saucepan and bring to a strong boil. Place the hazelnuts in the food processor and grind until coarse. Remove the boiling sugar from the heat and pour into the food processor. Blend until as smooth as possible, may take 10 minutes or more. If the food processor is straining, add the simple syrup to the food processor. Mix in the butter at the end.
Wrap the finished paste in plastic wrap and allow to cool.
To make the Hazelnut Cake:
Makes one 9-inch or 10-inch cake
1 1/3 cups sugar
8 ounces hazelnut paste
3/4, plus 1/4 cup gluten-free flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
6 large eggs, at room temperature
Preheat the oven to 325º. Grease a 9- or 10-inch cake or spring-form pan with butter, dust it with gluten-free flour and tap out any excess. Line the bottom of the pan with a round of parchment paper.
In the bowl of a food processor, grind the sugar, hazelnut paste, and 1/4 cup of flour until the almond paste is finely ground and the mixture resembles sand.
In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ¾-cup flour, baking powder and salt. Once the hazelnut paste is completely broken up, add the cubes of butter and the vanilla and almond extracts, then process until the batter is very smooth and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, processing a bit before the next addition. (You may wish to open the machine and scrape the sides down to make sure the eggs are getting fully incorporated.) After you add all the eggs, the mixture may look curdled. Don’t worry; it’ll come back together after the next step.
Add half the flour mixture and pulse the machine a few times, then add the rest, pulsing the machine until the dry ingredients are just incorporated, but do not overmix. (You can also transfer the batter to a bowl and mix the dry ingredients in, which ensures the dry ingredients get incorporated evenly and you don’t overbeat it.)
Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake the cake for 45-60 minutes, or until the top is deep brown and feels set when you press in the center.
Remove the cake from the oven and run a sharp or serrated knife around the perimeter, loosening the cake from the sides of the pan. Let the cake cool completely in the pan.
When the cake is cool, cut into slices, serve with a dollop of elderberry crème fraiche, half of a pear cut into slices, and a drizzle of elderberry syrup (see below).
To make the Elderberry Poach Liquid:
1 quart elderberry syrup
1 bottle white wine
Zest of 2 oranges, peeled
1 each vanilla bean
Boil together. Poach pears until soft.
To make the Elderberry Crème Fraiche:
8 ounces crème fraiche
1 ounce elderberry syrup
Whip crème fraiche. Fold in syrup until mixed evenly.
by Mia Rose Poris