Make These Beautiful Chocolates for Your Beau on Valentine's Day

Food & Drink Editor

Nothing says ‘I love you’ like chocolate, and if you really mean it, then why not make something rather than buy it? In these videos and recipes, one of London’s most celebrated chocolatiers, Paul A Young, shows us how it’s done, and tells us why chocolate and romance are natural bedfellows.

Strawberry- and champagne-filled heart chocolates

A classic chocolate combination never to be underestimated. Makes the perfect handmade gift on Valentine’s morning. Both these recipes call for ‘tempered’ chocolate, there are two ways to do this, ‘seeding’ which means melting two thirds of the chocolate before adding the rest in and beating. The second method involves cooling and working the chocolate on a marble slab. See this link for more details.
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Espresso Martini Nipples of Venus

This cheeky dessert is the perfect end or beginning to your Valentine’s evening. It celebrates the classic Italian chocolate dessert capezzoli di Venere (‘nipples of Venus’) with a modern reinvention. The dish has espresso martini-soaked chocolate cake hidden under a chocolate dome, topped with a heart decoration, then smothered in hot chocolate sauce before serving.
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The recipes

Strawberry- and champagne-filled heart chocolates by Paul A Young

A classic chocolate combination never to be underestimated, this is perfect as a handmade gift on Valentine’s morning.

Equipment needed
Heart-shaped chocolate mould
Palette knife

400g (14 oz.) tempered dark chocolate
100g (3.5 oz.) of the very best strawberry jam
190ml (6.4 fl. oz.) champagne or other sparkling wine
250g (8.8 fl. oz.) milk chocolate broken into small pieces

Clean your mould with cotton wool to make sure it’s dirt-free. Flood the entire mould with the tempered dark chocolate, tap on the worktop to release any air bubbles, and tip out the excess chocolate to reveal an empty shell.

Place upside-down on to silicone (baking) paper for five minutes. Remove from the paper and scrape the surface of the mould clean. Refrigerate for 10 minutes until the hearts release from the mould. Take care as you turn the mould upside- down to make sure the hearts don’t fall out.

To make the champagne ganache
Warm the champagne until it becomes warm and the alcohol vapours rise. Pour this on to the chocolate and whisk until smooth. Cool at room temperature.

To fill the hearts
Use a piping bag to fill each heart one-third full with strawberry jam. Tap the mould on the workbench to level out the jam. Now, use a piping bag to fill with champagne ganache leave 1mm (3.3″) gap at the top. Place in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Now to cap the hearts to seal in the filling. Take more tempered dark chocolate and flood over the filled shells and scrape off any residual chocolate to a smooth finish. Allow to cool until the chocolate is fully set. You can put them in the fridge for five minutes if you wish.

Turn your finished chocolates out of the mould by tapping it onto your work surface. The chocolates should be shiny, and there should be defined layers of strawberry and champagne when you bite into it. They will keep for four weeks in a cool, dry, dark place.

Espresso Martini Nipples of Venus by Paul A Young

You’ll need a heart-shaped cookie-cutter.
Ingredients for the chocolate cake
125g (4.4 oz.) butter
185g (6.5 oz.) self-raising flour
225g (8 oz.) unrefined Billington’s organic golden caster sugar
A pinch of sea salt
70g (2.5 oz.) cocoa powder
140ml (4.7 fl. oz.) evaporated milk
140ml (4.7 fl. oz.) warm water
2 eggs

For the espresso martini syrup
2 shots of espresso
100ml (3.4 fl. oz.) water
100g (3.5 oz.) unrefined orgnic Billington’s golden caster sugar
50ml (1.7 fl. oz.) vodka or gin
To make the cake
Rub together all the dry ingredients with the butter until fine.
Whisk the eggs and liquids together, pour on to the dry mix and whisk well.
Pour in to a silicone paper-lined bakewell tart or brownie tin 203.3mm x 203.3mm (8″ x 8″) and bake at 175ºC/347ºF for 45 minutes or until springy to the touch. Cool fully before cutting to level out. Then, using a heart cutter, cut out the heart shapes and place inside your dome.

Ingredients and method for making the hot chocolate sauce

200ml (6.7 fl. oz.) water
50g (1.8 oz.) unrefined caster sugar
175g (6 oz.) dark chocolate higher percentage (such as Guitttard 72%)
Bring the sugar and water to the simmer, pour on to the chocolate and whisk well until smooth. Keep warm on a very low heat.

Ingredients and method for making the chocolate spheres
Two rounded teacups or spherical-dome moulds
400g (14 oz.) dark chocolate, melted and tempered

Always melt your chocolate in a bain marie, not letting the water simmer or boil. Pour the tempered chocolate into each cup to the top and pour the chocolate out shaking the cup so a thin shell is left in the cup. Refrigerate for 15 minutes until the chocolate shrinks away from cup and the dome can be released.

Adding the heart decoration
The hearts for decoration can be made from tempered white chocolate and a heart mould, or bought from a sweet shop/store.
To construct your dessert
Soak each heart of the cake in the Martini syrup, and place a white chocolate heart on top. Then place on your plate with a chocolate dome on the top.
Decorate the dome with a simple heart stuck on with melted chocolate.

To serve
Simply pour the hot chocolate sauce over the dome until it slowly melts through, revealing the cake and heart.

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