February 09, 2008
When the kids were growing up, I always made a Valentine dessert. It was literally a valentine from me to them and it was a family tradition. Every year I tried to come up with a new version to bake in my heart-shaped pan. It usually involved some sort of cake, cookie, or pastry base with non-dairy ice cream and/or frosting and/or a red fruit filling or topping. It was usually pretty good and visually impressive. One year it was so good that I wrote down the recipe. (I must have it somewhere.)
This year I made a dessert for the blog. Maybe my heart wasn't totally in it like when I made it for the kids, but it doesn't look quite as spectacular as I remember. Maybe my little camera isn't up to rendering valentines or maybe I rushed. The yummy taste is there, but I'm sure you can be more artistic than I if you try!
This year I used the chocolate chip cookie recipe posted 1/15/08 for the base. I used 1/2 recipe and pressed it into an 8 x 8 heart-shaped pan. (I just went ahead and made the whole recipe, used half for the heart and made cookies with the rest. The cookies freeze well so I froze them.) I used a non-dairy vanilla ice cream for the center and a bittersweet chocolate frosting for the top. The icing is BITTERSWEET in a big way and will appeal to people who like bittersweet chocolate. If you like your chocolate sweeter, leave out the coffee and add a little maple syrup. I used frozen raspberries to decorate the edge because I had some in the freezer, but use your favorite fruit. I think cherries would be good. You could use fresh fruit if you add it just before serving. Just a thought - if all this seems like a lot of work, you could just serve the cookie with ice cream on the side! One thing I noticed, and should mention, is while this combination tastes great, the cookies are very crisp and a bit hard to cut, especially when frozen. You might want to assemble this dessert closer to when you plan to serve it so it doesn't stay in the freezer too long, or plan to let it sit out for five minutes or so before attempting to cut it. And use a sharp knife! Maybe slightly underbaking the cookie would also help. Mine will be in the freezer for five days before I serve it. It's in a freezer bag inside a plastic container. I'm hoping for the best!
Chocolate chip oatmeal cookie base (this is 1/2 of the normal recipe)
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (stir it up before measuring)
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
1/4 cup Sucanot (evaporated cane juice)
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 or more tablespoons water
-Combine flour, oatmeal, Sucanot, salt and baking soda in large bowl. Stir in chips.
-Mix oil, vanilla and 1 tablespoons water in glass measuring cup.
-Stir the wet into the dry until flour is absorbed. Batter will be thick but if it's too stiff to work with, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
-Press into a lightly oiled 8 x 8 heart-shaped pan.
-Bake on center shelf of preheated 375˚ oven until lightly browned on the bottom, about 20 minutes (or until edges start to brown).
-Cool in pan 10 minutes, loosen edges with a knife and then invert over a wire rack. Tap the pan bottom gently to release the cookie. Carefully turn right side up.
Rinse out the pan and maybe oil it for the next step. I never do but maybe the ice cream would come out more easily. Anyway, this part can be interesting. I've noticed that some non-dairy ice creams (especially my favorites) seem to go from rock hard to liquid without passing through a soft stage. I used a rice-based product this time and was a little nervous about it liquefying so I cut hard chunks out of the carton with a butter knife and pressed it quickly into the heart pan with the back of a wooden spoon. It actually wasn't too bad. I used about 3/4 of a pint (got tired of pressing) but you can use it all if you want. When I had the surface all smooth and even I put the pan back in the freezer. Leave it there for an hour or two to firm up. While it's firming, make the frosting.
My mother didn't make a lot of desserts but when one of us kids had a birthday, she was there for us with cake made from scratch and bittersweet chocolate fudge frosting. I never had much of a sweet tooth but I loved that frosting. Once in elementary school, when we had to memorize a story or poem to present to the class, I memorized the frosting recipe. I wish I could still recite it, but all I can remember is 11 tablespoons of cocoa and 11 tablespoons of sugar. Sound familiar?
Lately I've been using a frosting based on a recipe from Passionate Vegetarian by Crescent Dragonwagon. Her recipe uses sour cream and I have substituted soy yoghurt. I've also made it slightly softer so it would spread easily over the ice cream. It's amazingly fast and easy and meets my need for chocolate to be as bittersweet as possible! With this dessert, even spreading on as much as my conscience allowed, I still had leftovers. (To spread on the leftover cookies from the other half of the recipe!)
6 ounces semisweet vegan chocolate chips.
one 6-ounce carton of vanilla soy yogurt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon decaffeinated coffee crystals dissolved in 2 tablespoons boiling water
-Put the chocolate in the top half of a double boiler and melt over hot water. Stir often. I just put a stainless bowl over a pot of boiling water and it works fine.
-Remove from heat and stir in yogurt, vanilla and coffee. Beat with a wooden spoon until smooth and glossy. Place in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to cool it down but not so long as to make it hard to spread.
ice cream heart
frozen or fresh fruit
unsweetened shredded coconut or other decoration of your choice
Place the cookie on a nice plate where it can lie flat. Get the ice cream heart from the freezer and run hot water over the bottom of the pan for about 10 seconds to loosen it. Run a knife around the edge of the ice cream. Dry the pan and invert the pan over the cookie. It should fit perfectly since it's the same exact size. Thump gently on the pan bottom, and with a little luck, the ice cream should fall right into place on top of the cookie. Good luck. When the ice cream is successfully in place, put the dessert in the freezer for about 1/2 hour or so, to firm up the ice cream.
Spread the cooled frosting on the frozen ice cream. Work quickly so the ice cream doesn't melt. You can frost the top and sides or just the top. I did just the top and left a little white showing. Put the plate back in the freezer and get the fruit for the edge ready. Put it in a bowl so you can get to it quickly. Get the dessert from the freezer and arrange fruit around the edge or however you see fit. Sprinkle with shredded coconut or decoration of your choice. You're done.