It’s that time of year! Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite holidays for many reasons. It’s a time when we can make intimate dinners with champagne cocktails and decadent desserts. This Valentine’s Day, I’m feeling a little extra appreciative of the love in my life. I feel so lucky to have such wonderful friends and family who have been so supportive over this past year of craziness. I’m also feeling extra grateful right now because my husband Michael and I are finally vaccinated!!
Now that I’m vaccinated, I can finally get back to doing what I love most, which is cooking with friends! Of course we will still be cautious. Yesterday, I hosted a virtual Valentine’s Day cooking party with my good friend and talented designer Nicole Miller. All of the proceeds went to the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation. We made three sweet and sexy recipes that you’ll want to incorporate into your Valentine’s Day festivities this year: We began with Raspberry Sparklers, then we made a Strawberry Risotto and ended with a Flourless Chocolate Almond Cake! Our virtual cooking party was such a blast. We cooked, laughed, learned from each other, and raised money for a wonderful cause. Cooking with friends is so much fun. I hope you’ll be cooking with people you love this Valentine’s Day. We certainly need a lot more love in this world. 💕
I just love a fresh fruit cocktail. Sure, it’s easy to buy a fruity cocktail mix at the store, but nothing compares to making a fresh fruit puree at home. You might even have leftovers to use on pancakes or ice cream the next day! Since I love any excuse to use champagne in a cocktail, especially on Valentine’s Day, this Raspberry Sparkler hits the spot.
- 1/2 pint raspberries
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 bottle of Prosecco or Champagne
- In a bowl add raspberry and sugar
- Muddle the raspberry for two minutes until broken down
- Let the raspberry sit for 10 minutes
- Strain the raspberry through a fine strainer by passing a spoon through the raspberry to collect about a cup of puree
- Add 1-2 tablespoons of raspberry puree per flute
- Fill glass with prosecco or champagne
You all know how much I love risotto. It’s one of those dishes that you can make with just about any ingredient in your kitchen, once you have the technique down and 30 minutes to spare. Since it’s Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be the best time to make a strawberry risotto (or risotto alle fragole)! I know this might seem like an unusual pairing, but think about how often we eat strawberries and dairy together. Whether it’s strawberry shortcake, strawberry cheesecake or a strawberry smoothie, we’re pretty comfortable as a society mixing this tart fruit with all kinds of dairy products. Not that you needed any convincing, but this is a winning combination!
For a little backstory, strawberries have been used in Italian cooking as far back as ancient Rome! They’ve been used to flavor all kinds of meats and sauces. When it comes to strawberry risotto, the tart fruity flavor ends up tasting more like tomato than you’d think. In Italy, this dish is served for lunch or dinner rather than a dessert.
My version of strawberry risotto uses your typical risotto staples — chicken stock, butter, onion, arborio rice, and Parmesan — with the addition of heavy cream, strawberries, and Nicole Miller Rosé Wine, of course!
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ yellow onion, finely chopped
- ½ cup arborio rice
- ½ cup Nicole Miller Rosé Wine
- ½ cup mashed strawberries
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2-3 tablespoons grated Parmesan
- Freshly ground white pepper
- Fresh basil leaves
- Pour the stock into a pot and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer.
- Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a medium-sized pan over low heat, then add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until it is softened. Next, add the rice and cook, stirring frequently, until the grains are extremely hot to the touch.
- Add the wine and cook until it is 75% evaporated, then add in about ½ cup of the hot stock to the rice and cook, stirring, until it’s almost absorbed. Continue adding the stock, ½ cup at a time, stirring until each addition has been almost absorbed. This will take 18-20 minutes.
- Ten minutes before you finish cooking, add the mashed strawberries to the risotto. Once the risotto is finished, stir in the cream, grated parmesan, the last tablespoon of butter, and season with salt and freshly ground white pepper. Serve and garnish with the fresh basil leaves.
Chocolate Almond Flourless Cake
Yes, I love to indulge, but I also know when a healthier substitute will make a dessert even better! This Chocolate Almond Flourless Cake is so rich and decadent because of the high quality dark chocolate and European butter. I use almond flour instead of regular flour here and I can promise you, you won’t know the difference! You’ll spend under an hour making this rich chocolatey cake and I can guarantee your Valentine will be on cloud 9, all night long.
- 7 ounces best-quality dark chocolate
- 7 ounces unsalted European-style butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
- 5 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 tablespoon almond flour
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Heat the oven to 375º F, and butter a 9-inch springform cake pan. Line the base of the pan with parchment, and butter.
- Chop the chocolate and melt if in a double boiler (I use a metal bowl over a simmering pan of water), stirring continuously. You can also melt chocolate in the microwave, stirring every 15 seconds or so. Once the chocolate melts, add the butter, and keep stirring until both are fully melted. Add the sugar, stir to combine, and set aside to cool slightly.
- Add the eggs one at time, mixing very well after each. Once batter is smooth, mix in all remaining ingredients.
- Pour batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for about 25-35 minutes depending on your oven. You’ll know it’s ready when the top just starts to get crackly and the center no longer jiggles.
- Let the cake cool in its pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove springform top carefully.
- Serve in wedges warm or room temperature with ice cream or whipped cream. Enjoy!
I hope you all have a delicious Valentine’s Day, no matter how you decide to celebrate. I’d love to hear your thoughts on these sweet recipes in the comments section below.
Hi Nancy! Yes you butter under and over the parchment paper. You can cut a round of parchment with scissors that’s the exact size of the bottom of the pan. Use a pen or pencil to draw a circle if needed. Hope that helps! 🙂
hi Pamela!! so on step number 1: you butter the whole pan sides and bottom…then parchment on the bottom(on top of the buttered bottom…? Do you use scissors to cut a bottom to match? (no parchment at all up the sides)?
All looks delicious! Invite me!!