What better way to warm up during this cold month of February than by cozying up to the one you love and nibbling on a tasty bite or two? I’m talking about chocolate, of course. Cooking up an elaborate meal for Valentine’s Day is fun, but sometimes I have neither the time nor the inclination to do it. Sometimes, the best way to celebrate an occasion is to go against the grain. Relax, put your feet up and dine-in on fantastic fare. This valentine’s day, get your heart pumping with an easy and light lunch. Start off by whipping up a batch of dark chocolate fudge. Set it aside and let it cool. In the meantime, toss together a flavourful salad of hearts – palm, artichoke and celery. Turn up the cool jazz sounds of Nicola Conte and uncork a bottle of Gavi.
Making a batch of great tasting fudge can be tricky. Grainy-textured, overly sweet and dry, it can be a romance killer. Follow these tips, and the fudge will have a super smooth and luscious melt-in-your mouth texture with a dense dark chocolatey flavour.
• Stir it up in a heavy-bottomed pan to reduce the chances of sticking and burning.
• To keep the sugar crystals from getting too large during the cooking process and resulting in grainy fudge, brush the sides of the pan with water as the fudge cooks; monitor the temperature with a thermometer to ensure that the fudge doesn’t get too hot; use corn syrup instead of sugar because it won’t crystallize.
• Let the fudge mixture cool to 115°F before the last stirring step (step 6 below).
Hearts of palm, artichoke and celery are easily found on the shelf of any grocery store. These delicate vegetables are prized for their mild flavour and succulence. Add a handful of love fruit (grape tomatoes) and sweet, tender Romaine lettuce leaves for a delicious salad that you can eat with your fingers.