Chocolate recipes for Valentine’s Day

Pots de Chocolat
Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes
Organic None-Fat Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Coulis and Chocolate Sauce

It’s easy to make these chocolate pots look gorgeous — a little cream, a leaf or two, and a single berry. Leslie Savage photo


Pots de chocolat

I have adapted this recipe from Mrs. Rombauer’s now out-of-print original Joy of Cooking published in 1931—the only cookbook I owned in 1969 when I went to live in a Valle del Cauca in the Andes Mountains of Colombia. Medellin was a chocolate producing centre, and the smells of chocolate and coffee, Medellin’s other main export in the days before the drug wars, permeated the whole valley. The paesanos brought the beans in burlap sacks on donkeys, dropping them at the cooperatives for processing. My first purchase was a large wooden tool with a notched ball on one end for pounding and frothing our breakfast chocolate.

Here is my adapted recipe for Pots de Chocolat:

Combine over low heat in a double boiler the following:
2 cups whipping cream or a mix of cream and milk
8 oz semisweet or sweet chocolate, best quality, grated
2 tbsp sugar
6 lightly beaten egg yolks
1 tbsp brandy or 1 tbsp coffee or both!

Pour into custard cups or demitasse cups. Refrigerate for several hours. Serve topped with a dollop of whipped cream and whatever decorative elements you choose—we used mint leaves and a blueberry, but raspberries would be nice. Or use a curl of dark or white chocolate, chopped hazelnuts, a vanilla wafer, a chocolate-coated coffee bean, or slices of pear with cream.

Chocolate zucchini cupcakes with buttercream frosting

These cupcakes are a children’s dessert—don’t worry, they’ll never know about the zucchini, which disappears completely despite the initial greening of the liquid ingredients (don’t bother peeling the zukes, any vitamin content is probably in the skin.)

I debated with my daughter over the decorations. I had bought sprinkles, but we decided homemade decorations would be prettier. The tiny sugar cookies, iced with coloured frosting, took her all afternoon to make. These cupcakes hold their shape, are solid enough to transport in a box, and the zucchini helps retain the moisture for a day or two. The buttercream is delicious but chocolate ganache is an alternative (see recipe for Chocolate Cake.)


Who would guess these are made with zucchini? The cupcake stand was Deenie’s idea—many thanks. Leslie Savage photo

½ cup unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp sea salt
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp real vanilla extract
1 tsp instant coffee granules or instant espresso
3 large eggs
2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup good quality chocolate chips

Make the cupcakes
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Prepare pans: for cupcakes, fit muffin papers into muffin tins. This makes 18 cupcakes.
Wash well the zucchini and purée it in a food processor. (If you don’t have one, grate the zucchini very finely until it is total mush.) Add the 3 eggs, sugar, vanilla, and coffee powder, and process another minute or two until all is well integrated.
In another bowl, mix the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Gradually add the liquid ingredients to the dry. Combine well but don’t overbeat. Add the chocolate chips. Fill cupcake papers 2/3 full, or cake pans also 2/3 full. Bake cupcakes about 15 minutes—test with skewer for doneness. They may take up to 18 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.

Buttercream Frosting.
7 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
½ cup water
2 cups unsalted butter at room temperature
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
This buttercream is from Moosewood Desserts. It takes a bit of trouble, and you need a candy thermometer, but is so delicious that after tasting it you will never go back to powdered icing sugar frosting.
Beat the egg yolks with an electric mixer until they are pale yellow.

Combine sugar and water in a saucepan and boil until the thermometer shows 239F. Remove from heat.
While continuing to beat the egg yolks, drizzle the sugar mixture into the eggs a few tablespoons at a time. Keep on beating until the mixture has cooled. Add the butter 1 tbsp at a time, beating continuously until all the butter is integrated. Add the vanilla and keep beating. Eventually it will turn into spreadable frosting. You can add 2-4 oz. melted chocolate. If you have leftovers and put it in the fridge, it may curdle, and you can add 2 tbsp. melted butter to try to restore it, but the best thing is not to refrigerate it.

Here’s a cake in need of a decorator, but if you love him truly, who will mind? Leslie Savage photo

Organic Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Coulis and Chocolate Sauce
This cake uses no dairy, no eggs, no fat and no sugar.
I’ve adapted it from Meredith McCarty’s book Sweet and Natural: More than 120 Sugar-Free and Dairy-Free Desserts, (1999) available at the Revelstoke Library.
The sweetener is agave nectar, a mainly fructose sweetener which is reputedly lower in GI (glycemic index) than either sugar or alternatives such as honey, maple syrup or brown rice syrup. Fat is replaced by prune purée. The sauce is based on maple syrup. The result is a dense, almost cheesecake consistency, and a somewhat fruity chocolate flavour, not very sweet but nonetheless delicious, especially with the raspberry coulis and chocolate sauce. Serve it in small pieces, as it tastes quite rich despite the absence of butter, oil, milk, cream or eggs.

Make the prune purée by soaking 1 cup prunes in water to cover for 2-6 hours, then mulching the mixture in the blender. This will make more than enough; store the rest in the freezer for next time. Prunes are full of pectin, which reacts in a similar way as fat does to other baking ingredients.
Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and line a cake tin. I used one heart-shaped tin, but two layers or a bundt pan will do as well. Line the pan bottom with waxed paper.
Mix together in one bowl
1 cup organic whole wheat flour, sifted
1 cup organic all-purpose flour, sifted
1 cup organic cocoa powder, sifted
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt

Then mix in another bowl
½ cup prune purée
½ cup agave nectar. Alternatively, use maple syrup.
½ cup orange juice
zest of one orange (2 tsp)
1 cup soy milk
1 tbsp vanilla extract.

Add the dry to the wet ingredients and beat gently. Pour into pan and bake 20-25 minutes for layers, 25-30 for one single cake. When baked, remove from pans and let cool.

Go on — have a piece of my heart. Leslie Savage photo

Raspberry coulis
1 600 gram package of frozen raspberries without syrup or sugar added
¼ cup agave nectar—more if you like it sweeter
½ tsp vanilla
Thaw the raspberries. Strain them to remove juice, and reserve this. Sieve the berries to remove the seeds, adding a little juice up to 1 cupful whenever the pulp seems too dry to get more through the sieve.
Add the agave nectar to taste. Add the vanilla. If the coulis is too thick to use in a decorative squirter bottle (a washed mustard or ketchup squirter is fine) add a little more juice, one tbsp at a time.

Chocolate Ganache Glaze

Use the best chocolate you can afford—not the regular supermarket brand, but preferably gourmet dark chocolate that’s at least 56% pure cocoa nibs. If the package says soy, milk or lecithin, you can use it but expect to have to add sugar. I’ve found that Vivani Organic chocolate also needs some sugar—it’s very intensively chocolate and may be too strong for some tastes, but those of us who happily eat 85% cocoa products, like it as is. Callebaut, a top quality premium chocolate now made in Calgary and occasionally available in Revelstoke—why not always?—is smoother and can be used as is.
1 cup cream
8 oz. good quality chocolate—
Put the cream in a heatproof bowl over 1 inch of water in a saucepan. The bowl should fit comfortably with room for you to stir in it.
Heat the cream while you chop the chocolate into bits with a big knife.
Put the chocolate into the cream and stir until chocolate is melted. Remove from heat.
Beat lightly until the glaze begins to thicken.
When the cake is cool, put it on a plate with 4 pieces of waxed paper underneath to keep the plate clean while you glaze it. Use a large serving spoon to ladle the ganache over the cake, letting it run down the sides and then spooning it up over the top again, until the whole cake is glazed with chocolate. Remove waxed paper.
Use a vegetable peeler to make curls of chocolate—either milk, dark or white—as decoration for the cake. Serve with a squirt of raspberry coulis in a pattern under the cake, with more coulis in a serving jug, and pass the chocolate sauce so each person can serve their own.

Chocolate Sauce
1 ½ cups pure organic maple syrup
2 cups cocoa powder, sifted
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup of cream
Heat together in a saucepan but don’t boil.