14 February 2005 marked the first time I spent St. Valentine's Day with someone special. Yep, for the past 23 years, that day meant nothing much really to me. So I am really glad to have experienced my first special Valentine's Day with J. We did not do anything spectacular or amazingly romantic, but I am just still very happy to be able to spend a whole day with him.
It was a simple affair really, starting with a lovely bunch of flowers from J, followed by lunch at another fabulous Italian restaurant, Oso Ristorante, where we had some good food and one bad dessert (review of Oso to follow, hopefully soon). We had decided to go for the lunch rather than dinner, so that we can skip the exhorbitant Valentine's Day prices that most restaurants adopt to take advantage of the special day.
For the special occasion, I also made a chocolate cake, exactly based on this recipe. But I served it with Alice Medrich’s low-fat rich chocolate glaze/frosting. The cake itself was utterly delicious, chocolate-y yet not overly rich, light yet satisfying. The chocolate glaze just complimented it further, adding another source of moisture. Most importantly, the cake remained moist even after a couple of days out on the platter, as I can testify myself, as I blog this entry.
We made dinner, just like an old couple, that just made me feel even closer to J. Dinner was kept intentionally light, as we did not wish to cook up a storm. The menu comprised of canned (yes, you read that right :) tomato soup, mixed salad with balsamic vinegar, fish fingers and ribeye steak. Out of curiousity, I also bought a small bottle of Choya, a sweet Japanese plum wine, which turned out to accompany our dinner rather well. J and I chatted and teased and blabbered on, until we could not keep our eyes opened.
Whoever this St. Valentine is, I thank him for creating yet another reason for couples to get together in the name of celebration of love.
Chocolate Pound Cake
(by Susan Hermann Loomis)
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- Pinch of sea salt
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature, separated
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 14 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C). Thoroughly butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan, place it inside, and butter and flour it as well.
2. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, and salt onto a piece of parchment paper.
3. If using an electric mixer, use the whisk attachment if you have one. In the bowl of the mixer, or in another large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with all but 1 tablespoon of the sugar until they are foamy and pale yellow, and have at least doubled in volume. Whisk in the vanilla extract. Sprinkle the flour over the egg yolk mixture and whisk it in quickly, just so it is mixed. Don't be concerned if some flour still clings to the sides of the bowl; you'll get that later.
4. Add the butter in thirds, whisking continuously. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and whisk the batter once more, forcefully, so all is combined. Finally, gently stir the batter several times in a folding motion, as a last assurance that all is mixed together.
5. In a medium-size bowl, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they are white and foamy but still quite liquid. Gradually sprinkle the reserved 1 tablespoon sugar into the egg whites, whisking constantly until, they are whiter and slightly firmer, but still this side of forming soft peaks.
6. Fold one fourth of the egg whites into the batter. Then add the remaining whites and gently fold them in until they are fully incorporated.
7. Turn the batter into the prepared pan, and bake in the center of the oven until the cake springs back when touched, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it cool for 5 minutes; then loosen the edge of the mold. After 15 minutes cooling, remove the cake from the pan and let it cool thoroughly on a wire rack.