Well it's that time of year again - red roses triple in price, tender hearts hope for anonymous notes, young romantics stress about buying the perfect token of their affection, and old-marrieds get to raise a glass to each other in satisfaction for having made it this far! Valentine's Day. In typical fashion my valentine will be in Chicago on the 14th, so we sneaked in a lovely lunch at our favourite Italian restaurant before he flew off. To finish up, we both opted for a strong espresso - probably trying for an antidote to the lunch-time wine. A strong hit of coffee is such a fab way to finish a meal, and here I have combined the coffee hit with rich dark chocolate to make a perfect Valentine's dessert. With Chocolate, Coffee and Hazelnut Biscotti for scooping, you have a nutty crunch to pair with the luscious, smooth extra-rich mousse. And because it's Valentine's Day the mousse serves only 2 - Rich the 16-year old reckons if you don't have someone to celebrate the day with, you get the compensation of eating both. I think he might be on to something.
120g 70% dark chocolate, chopped into chunks
3 tbsp extra super-strong espresso
1 egg white
1 tbsp Dutch dark cocoa powder
Heat cream in a large microwave proof jug until just below boiling, about 50 seconds on high. Add chocolate and leave to sit for a couple of minutes then whisk until smooth. If necessary give another little blat in the microwave. (You can of course do the same by heating the cream in a pot on the stove!) Whisk hot espresso into chocolate and cream and leave to cool for half an hour. Whisk egg white to firmish peaks then fold (kind of whisk really) into chocolate mixture. Pour into coffee glasses and chill for at least 6 hours before serving. Can be made the day before. Serve dusted with a little cocoa powder, with a couple of biscotti on the side. (Please do make the espresso 'ristretto' style super strong - undrinkable - beacause when it is chilled and mixed with the luscious creamy chocolate, it will lose a lot of it's kick!). Take out of the fridge 10 minutes before serving :)
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp butter, softened
1 tbsp extra strong espresso
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup Dutch dark cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup roasted, skinned hazelnuts
1/2 cup 70% dark chocolate, chopped into chunks
In a mixer whisk sugar, butter, egg and espresso until sugar is dissolved and mixture has thickened. Sift in flour, cocoa and baking powder then use a wooden spoon to mix to a firm dough. Add hazelnuts and chocolate and use a bit of bicep power to combine into dough. Plop the whole lot onto the bench and form into two skinny logs, each about 15cm long. Put on a baking tray lined with baking paper and chill for at least half an hour.
Preheat oven to 180˚C (350˚F) and bake logs for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and trust me - they look really horrible, but it's all OK. Leave them to cool until almost room temperature - about an hour, then slice into diagonal pieces about 1/2 cm thick - I like my biscotti quite fine - up to you if you want to go a little thicker. Reduce oven temperature to 140˚C (275˚F). Line another tray with baking paper and lay out biscotti. Bake a further 15-20 minutes until dry and crisp. Leave to cool on the trays for 15 minutes before transferring to a rack. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 35.