Chocolate-Ginger Tartlets for Valentine's Day. (See recipe below)
When it comes to Valentine's Day, the human population seems to divide in two camps: the advocates of the all-out ritual of flowers, gift and restaurant, and the fierce opponents, who feel it's all consumerist hogwash.
Clotilde Dusoulier is the 25-year-old Parisienne behind the popular food blog Chocolate & Zucchini, where she writes about all things edible. She is now working on a cookbook.
In Paris, while we are copiously showered with red hearts, special offers and not-so-subtle nudges to go out and buy stuff, most people I know -- boy or girl -- seem to adopt a certain smirky attitude towards the occasion ("Romantique, who, me? Sheesh!"). Chances are you'll find those very same people waiting in line at the florist's or looking suitably smitten at the restaurant table next to yours.
I like to celebrate Valentine's Day simply because I believe there can’t be too many occasions to say sweet things to those we love -- or too many occasions to eat chocolate.
The way I mark the occasion changes from year to year depending on my general mood and how insistently life decides to get in the way, but I think the most romantic thing you can do is cook for your darling. Or better yet with your darling, provided you two can actually breathe the same kitchen air without wanting to throttle each other with an oven mitt.
The menu doesn’t have to be anything fancy (the candles and the little black dress will take care of that), just something a little different, to show you've put some thought in it. This year I'm going to cook a Thai dish, probably a green curry, because it's a path I seldom explore and one that my favorite dining companion will particularly enjoy.
And I'll end this Valentine's dinner on an indulgent note with these Chocolate and Candied Ginger Tartlets, a recipe I was inspired to create this year. It features a chocolate ganache filling, lying voluptuously in a shell of shortcrust pastry. Little pieces of candied ginger are hiding underneath this luscious blanket, ready to deliver the heat of their passion as you bite in.
Chocolate and ginger make for an exotic and surprising pairing. It is a favorite of mine, a taste I am happy to share with a few illustrious chocolate makers and pastry chefs -- Pierre Hermé has a delicious recipe for chocolate cake with apricots and ginger, and a signature dessert at Parisian restaurant La Table de Lucullus is a velvety chocolate cream, served with a scoop of fiery ginger ice cream.
Chocolate and ginger, a match made in heaven. Need I mention that both are reputed aphrodisiacs?