February 2007

When I was a little girl in grade school, my teacher would put out a cardboard box that had been decorated with wrapping paper and heart decals, and it would serve as our Valentine “mailbox”. All during the week leading up to Valentine’s Day, my classmates and I would fill the Valentine’s Day mailbox to bursting with our store bought or handmade valentines. With the exception of a few years, when I thought myself just too cool for my own good, I have always looked forward to Valentine’s Day, and the anticipation that goes with it.
feb07newsletter001blog.jpg As a young mother, I decided I would create special Valentines Day memories for my family. My husband and I would usually go out for a romantic dinner, but every year, on the eve of Valentine’s Day, I would sneak downstairs after the kids had gone to sleep, and decorate the kitchen table where we had breakfast with paper doilie valentines, heart shaped confetti, chocolate kisses, and curly red ribbon. At each place I would place wrapped Valentine’s Day presents for the kids to open at their special Valentine’s Day breakfast, which would feature heart shaped pancakes, strawberry “hearts”, or heart shaped Valentines French toast. For years my children were under the impression that everyone’s mom made special Valentine’s breakfasts.
Today, I sometimes prefer to stay home and make something a bit special for Jerry and I for Valentine’s Day. With both our very busy schedules, it is a pleasure to light a fire, share a bottle of wine and a delicious meal, and of course end with a bit of chocolate. The recipe I am sharing with you this month is one that I developed for a Valentine’s dinner party I threw, and one of my guests suffered from a wheat intolerance. Since then, I have made and remade this recipe, which has become one of my most requested. It has grown and evolved and the addition of chiles was an inspiration after tasting some delicious chocolate in Mexico. Try making it for someone you love, or better yet, with someone you love…just promise me that you’ll make it. I’m positive that you won’t restrict this recipe to Valentine’s Day!

No Flour Chocolate Cake

  • 1 c espresso
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tsp red cayenne pepper
  • 3 sticks of sweet butter, cubed
  • 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate
  • 4 oz unsweetened chocolate
  • 8 large eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 375 . Prepare a 9 inch spring form pan, by cutting out a parchment disc to fit the bottom of the pan. Take a large sheet of aluminum foil, and bring it up around the sides of the pan to fit tightly. Set aside.


Pour the coffee in a saucepan with the sugar and the cinnamon sticks to simmer at very low heat for about 20 minutes, or until fragrant. Stir in the butter to melt, and the cayenne pepper. Set aside


Pulse the chocolate in the food processor until coarse, then transfer into a deep bowl. Whisk in the coffee mixture until the chocolate has completely melted, then whisk in the beaten eggs.


Transfer to the prepared spring form pan, using a rubber spatula to scrape all of the chocolate out. Place the pan in a bain marie (you can use a large oven proof skillet or a roasting pan) and fill with water to come halfway up the spring form pan. Bake until center is set (50-60 minutes).


Cool, then chill at least 8 hours. Run a wet knife around the sides of the pan, pop spring to release. Place a platter over the cake and flip the whole thing over. Remove the bottom of the pan, and peel off the parchment. Serve with cinnamon ice cream and strawberries.


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