Tutorial: Cooking With Us on Valentine's Day

photo courtesy of (the A-mazing) Our Labor of Love

We were elated when the Los Angeles editor of the insanely useful and chic website DailyCandy got in touch with us to ask if we would want to contribute a recipe for Valentine's Day. She was working on a story called "What's Cooking, Good Looking," featuring recipes from restaurateur couples from across the country. It took us about .1 seconds before typing "yes" and hitting the reply button on the computer.

Needless to say, we were honored to be chosen and featured by DailyCandy and we thought it would be silly of us not to share this great news with all of you.

The parameters of the recipes were pretty open; didn't matter how fancy, how savory, or how sweet. Just had to be something that the lovely folks and readers of DailyCandy could cook at home. Evan and I instantly remembered one of our first Valentine's Days we spent together, about nine years ago. We were fortunately spending the holiday away at his parent's cabin in Central Oregon, a place we still hold dear to our hearts, and one that can be considered pretty much the most romantic place ever. The premise of our gifts was simple: each of us would cook a meal for the other. Looking back, neither of us are quite sure what Evan made. Perhaps this is a testament to the fact that even at 19 years old I was the ring leader in the kitchen. We did recall that I had whipped up a quick and easy pot de
crème recipe. Since then, we have tweaked that recipe many times over to satisfy the cravings of hungry customers. The one we dished out to DailyCandy is the one we were serving at our (now defunct) dinner service. Thought you guys might enjoy it, too. Go ahead cook these up for your sweetie. We'd be delighted to hear if they help jump-start a long-time love affair for you, too. Oh, and if you care to see the recipe in print (online, that is), or wish to peruse the other restaurateur couples' recipes, here's the link.

Chocolate-Espresso Pots de Crème

Makes eight servings

8 oz. Scharffen Berger bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1½ c. heavy cream
½ c. whole milk
2 2-inch strips orange peel
tsp. fresh ground espresso or instant espresso powder
6 large egg yolks
2 tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 300°. Heat a kettle of water.

2. Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl.

3. Scrape seeds from the inside of the vanilla bean and combine with pod, heavy cream, milk, orange peel, espresso, and a pinch of salt in a heavy saucepan. Heat the mixture until it begins to boil and remove from heat.

4. Pour mixture over chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

5. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla extract. Whisking vigorously, add the chocolate mixture to the yolks in a slow, steady stream. Strain through a through fine sieve over a medium bowl. Discard pod, peel, and any other solid ingredients.

6. Arrange 8 coffee cups (or ramekins) in a small roasting pan. Ladle custard into cups, making sure they contain a equal amounts of custard, and fill the roasting pan with enough hot water so that it reaches halfway up the sides of the cups. Cover the roasting pan with foil. Bake about 30 minutes until custards are just set around edge but centers wobble when cups are gently shaken.

7. Allow the cups to cool in the water bath about 1 hour, then serve at room temperature or chilled. Garnish with fresh whipped cream, espresso grounds, and orange peel.

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