Passionate About Iowa City
and the Moms Who Live Here.

Romantic Desserts – 1 Simple Recipe, 3 Elegant Presentations

All you need is love…. and chocolate.

Whether you’re spending Valentine’s Day in a long-term committed relationship, in a new exciting relationship, or with your child(ren), everyone will should appreciate a rich chocolate dessert.

It doesn’t matter if you are someone who can barely cook or if you love to try exotic recipes, one of these desserts is perfect for you! Using the following SIMPLE ganache recipe, you can create any of these three impressive dishes. Start with a simple fondue, or elevate it to a chocolate tart. If you’re comfortable, try spinning some sugar to create a stunning masterpiece. 


Easy Ganache Recipe

8oz chocolate chips
1 cup heavy whipping cream
Pinch kosher salt
Vanilla bean or vanilla bean paste (optional)

You can make ganache in a double boiler. However, if you want a quicker option, you can heat the cream in the microwave for 1.5 minutes (stopping every 30 seconds to stir).

Then, pour hot cream over chocolate chips. Wait about a minute for the cream to start to melt the chocolate.

Whisk the mixture until it become a thick chocolate syrup. If your cream wasn’t hot enough to fully melt the chocolate, just pop the mixture in the microwave for 10 seconds at a time and then mix until all the chocolate is completely melted.

Stir in a pinch of kosher salt and vanilla, if desired. Voila!

If that was enough work for you, just cut up some strawberries and you’re done.

However, if you have a little extra time to spend in the kitchen, you can take it to the next level with this simple, yet impressive, chocolate tart.


Tart Crust

24 Oreo cookies
4T (half stick) melted butter

Pulse the oreos (with filling) in a food processor until finely ground. Pour in melted butter and continue to pulse until butter is incorporated and mixture begins to come together. Gently press into the bottom and sides of a tart pan. If you are doing individual tartlets, you will be able to make 2-3 tartlets with this recipe.

Bake the crust at 350 for 5 – 8 minutes. Let cool completely before filling.

Prepare strawberries by washing, cutting, and drying with a paper towel.

If your ganache has started to thicken, or if you have it in the refrigerator, put in the microwave for 10 seconds at a time, then stir. Once the ganache is smooth enough to pour, gently fill your tart pan.

Top as desired and place in the refrigerator to chill. Ganache should be firm within 1-2 hours. If you are using fresh fruit, I would not recommend making more than 24 hours in advance.

Now, that will definitely impress anyone. BUT, if you really want a wow factor and you aren’t afraid of a little mess in your kitchen, you can elevate your tart dish with a spun sugar garnish.


Spun Sugar Nest

1 cup granulated sugar                                           

If you’ve never worked with sugar, it is important to have everything set up before you start so you don’t have to worry about multitasking. I suggest covering a surface with parchment paper – that includes any side walls or back splash near the surface you’ll be working. You’ll want to use two skewers (I secured them using masking tape).

Next, you can tape two forks together to create more ‘strands’. This isn’t necessary, but it goes faster than just using one fork. Alternately, if you have an old whisk, you can cut the ‘loops’ and use that for optimal strands!

Finally, put on a cartoon or something to keep all the kids in the other room. You do NOT want distractions when you are working with hot sugar, and you most definitely don’t want little kids running around while you are flinging hot strands of sugar around.

Okay, now you’re ready. Take a deep breath and remember this is NOT difficult.

Begin to heat sugar in a pot over medium heat. Do NOT stir the sugar. This will make it crystalize. Instead, occasionally swirl the pot to incorporate. As your sugar begins to turn a dark amber color, swirl more often to combine. Once your sugar is completely melted and dark amber, remove from the heat.

If you try dipping your fork in the sugar right away, the hot sugar will drip right off. You will need to continue to dip and ‘test’ the temperature. Once the sugar starts to cool, it will create strands as you lift your fork. Once you are at this temperature, you’re ready to go!

Carefully begin dipping your fork and flinging it back and forth over the skewers. Continue to do this until you have lots of long golden strands. Gently pull the strands off the skewers and form into a loose nest. If your sugar is still hot enough, you can continue to work, creating more nests. You’ll probably even love the second one more than the first, once you get in the groove.

Try not to handle the sugar too much with your hands. Once your tart is ready to be served you can place the nest on top, and throw away the parchment paper that (hopefully) caught all the excess sugar. Grab a fork (or two, if you want to share) and enjoy.


Tips:

  • Ganache can be made up to a week in advance and stored in an air tight container in the refrigerator. To melt, heat in the microwave for 15-30 seconds at a time and stir to until desired consistency is achieved.
  • Ganache can be used to top ice cream, rolled into truffles, or fill/frost cakes.
  • Try topping your tart with dried fruit, raspberries, crushed nuts, and or crushed Oreos on top.
  • If you’re curious about the gold leaf I added to my sugar nest, you can find it here.
  • If you want to attempt the spun sugar garnish but you’re worried about time, you can create the tart crust and pour the ganache the day before. The only thing that needs to be made right before serving is the spun sugar. Sugar is incredibly temperamental, so if your house is too warm or humid, sugar can ‘melt’ if it sits around for too long, especially once it is placed on the chocolate. So, ideally you would have your tart ready ahead of time, then make the garnish right before serving.
Bon appetit! 

 

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