Valentine’s Day, a time to show loved ones you appreciate them and an opportunity for secret admirers to act on their feelings and tell that special someone that they’re smitten with them.
It’s also an occasion when restaurants look more like Noah’s Ark with their tables arranged in pairs, and so many candles and tea-lights adorn the place that it makes you question whether the electricity bill has been paid.
This time of year is big business for restaurants, offering up Valentine’s menus boasting all of the expected aphrodisiacs; oysters, figs, caviar and of course chocolate. Some restaurants do approach this Saint’s Day superbly and others trot out an unappetizing menu with a heartbreaking bill to match.
Whilst going out to eat on this special day can be a wonderful thing to do, I think it’s so much more romantic to cook something yourself for the one you love. A Romantic meal for two at home means you can take your time over each course, share a bottle of something delicious and have the place entirely to yourself, without even the waiting staff to distract you.
Also if you wanted to go upstairs after dessert and leave the dishes until the morning, that too would be perfectly fine.
My suggestion for a delicious Valentine’s Day dessert is this chocolate passion fruit tart. It’s perfect because you can make it in advance of the day and if you don’t feel like making the passion fruit curd, you can always buy a jar, Tiptree make a good passion fruit curd. So this then becomes a very easy dessert with a big flavour, that leaves you time to open the caviar, shuck the oysters and fry the steak.
Chocolate and Passion Fruit Tart
Chocolate Pate Sucree
160g Plain Flour
40g Cocoa Powder
15g Ground Almonds
35g Icing Sugar
Pinch of Salt
125g Unsalted Butter (cubed)
1 Tbsp Cold Water
Passion Fruit Curd (or 310g shop bought passion fruit curd)
Passion Fruit Pulp (6-8 passion fruits or use puree)
100g Unsalted Butter
1.5 Tbsp Corn Flour
- To make the pastry, add the flour, cocoa powder, almonds, icing sugar, salt and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a bowl.
- Combine the ingredients to form breadcrumbs and then add the egg to bind the dough together. Add the table spoon of cold water and mix until the dough forms a ball. Wrap in cling-film and leave to rest for at least 2 hours.
- To make the passion fruit curd, put the passion fruit pulp in a food processor and whizz to separate the seeds from the flesh. Scrape into a sieve pushing through as much pulp as you can into the bowl.
- Place the passion fruit pulp, eggs, butter, sugar and corn flour in a saucepan and set over a low heat. Stir with a wooden spoon until all the butter has melted, continue stirring until the passion fruit curd has thickened and coats the back of a spoon.
- Sieve the curd into a clean bowl to get rid of any eggy bits that may be in the curd, this is normal if the curd cooks too quickly. Put to one side and allow to cool.
- Preheat the oven to 180C or 160C FAN and grease a 20cm loose bottomed cake tin. Roll the pastry out to be larger than the pan and about 2mm thick. Lay the pastry over the pan and push it into the sides so that it fits the pan. You can push the sides in with your fingers, or use a piece of pastry to push it against the sides of the tin. Then use a rolling pin to trim the edges by rolling it over the top of the pan and pulling away the excess.
- Lay a crumpled piece of greaseproof paper inside the tart and fill it with baking beans. Place the pastry in the fridge for 20 minutes to cool it.
- Bake the pastry for 25 minutes and then remove the greaseproof paper and the beans and bake for a further 10 minutes.
- Leave the pastry to cool before filling it with the passion fruit curd or 310g shop bought curd. Place the case with the curd in the fridge and get on with making the ganache.
- Add the cream and butter to a heavy bottomed pan. Bring the mixture to the boil then remove from the heat and pour it over the chocolate. Stir the mixture until all of the chocolate has melted.
- Leave the ganache to cool for a few minutes before pouring it on top of the passion fruit and allow to set in the fridge.
- Decorate the tart with a dusting of cocoa powder and serve with pouring cream.