February 2014 Issue
One of our foodie favorites, Bev Shaffer, offers advice for sweetening up your Valentine’s Day.
If there’s anyone who knows how to sweeten up Valentine’s Day, it’s chef Bev Shaffer. Her lavish coffee-table-worthy cookbooks, Brownies to Die For!, Cookies to Die For! and Cakes to Die For! are well into their third printings. Shaffer’s latest offering, Chocolate Desserts to Die For, was published in October.
Over the past decade, the Seville resident has shared her passion for all things chocolate with cooks around the globe. “The biggest thing about chocolate for me is that every time you eat it, it makes you fall in love with life again,” Shaffer says. “Chocolate elevates the mood. It makes you happy.”
Which is why, she adds, it’s the perfect confection for Valentine’s Day. “Many people shy away from the holiday because they think it’s too commercial,” she says. “But it doesn’t have to be. You can put your own special signature spin on it.”
Here, Shaffer shares three luscious ways to make your Feb. 14 a red-letter day:
Be of Good Cheer(s): Shaken or stirred? The choice is yours. To make Shaffer’s intoxicating Chocolatini, add 1 cup cocoa nibs to your favorite bottle of vodka (hers is Chopin). Cap the bottle and infuse for three days, shaking the bottle once daily. Then, test the vodka. If you want more chocolate flavor, let the liquor infuse for a few more days and continue shaking the bottle daily. “When the taste is irresistible,” says Shaffer, “strain the vodka through cheesecloth to remove nibs and sediment, pour it into a cocktail shaker, add ice, strain into your favorite glass and propose a toast in style.”
Visit Candyland: “Sharing chocolate with someone you love makes eating it more enjoyable,” Shaffer says. But not just any chocolate will do. The chef’s preferred confectioners are specialty chocolatiers: Lilly Handmade Chocolates in Cleveland (lillytremont.com), Coblentz Chocolate Company in Walnut Creek (coblentzchocolates.com) and Godiva are favorites. She finds English toffee and dark chocolate truffles made with Grand Marnier delectable. “I always buy two of everything or one big block so my husband, John, and I can taste test,” Shaffer says.
Indulge: “Fun to make and fun to eat, my chocolate treats must be more than good and they have to be chocolatey,” Shaffer says. This dessert fits the bill — no frosting required. Just a listing of incredible ingredients and when you slice and serve with fresh pineapple and softly whipped cream … oh baby!
Deep Dark Chocolate Truffle Cake
(from Chocolate Desserts to Die For!
Reprinted by permission of Pelican Publishing Co.)
1 pound bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
6 large eggs, separated, then room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream
2 tablespoons chocolate liqueur
1 teaspoon vanilla
Chunks of fresh pineapple
Unsweetened whipped cream
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 10-inch springform pan.
Melt the chocolate and butter; remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks and sugar until thick and yellow colored. Stop and scrape bowl and beater.
Mix in the cooled chocolate mixture, cream, chocolate liqueur and vanilla.
In another clean large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form (but mixture is not dry). Gently fold 1/4 of egg whites into chocolate mixture.
Fold in remaining egg whites until thoroughly incorporated. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake for 26 to 35 minutes or until cake is just set. Cool on wire rack. When completely cool, loosen the edges of the springform pan and remove ring. Serve with chunks of fresh pineapple and a wisp of unsweetened whipped cream. Serves 8 or more.