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For that special loved one: wine, chocolate and...onion rings!?
By Elan Head

February 4, 2006

A few weeks ago, I found a menu for a Valentine's Day dinner I made four years ago.
I don't have it in front of me now, but I recall that the main course was a grilled beef salad with watercress
and blood oranges.

For dessert, I served chocolate and hazelnut mousses in tuiles: thin, crisp cookie cups.
With another Valentine's Day on the horizon, it got me thinking about what, exactly, constitutes a
romantic dinner.
I think it's mostly the thought that counts. As crazy as my husband and I are about food, our first meal as a
couple was at a Sonic drive-in, and Sonic onion rings still hold some romantic appeal for me.
Beyond those sentimental tie-ins, though, the only common denominators I came up with were wine and

Put them together, and bam! A romantic dinner.
Also, I think I've previously observed in this column that wine and chocolate are great comforts on
Valentine's Day, whatever one's romantic status.
So here's my suggestion for February 14: individual chocolate cakes and wine to pair.
To start, you'll need six eight- or 16-ounce ramekins, which you can pick up at a store like Target or Cost
Plus, or at a specialty cooking store.
Why six? I'm not suggesting you should have company. But six is what the recipe makes and leftovers
won't last long.

My cake is a kind of budino, sometimes identified on menus as a fallen chocolate cake.
It's a rich, dense, gooey cake that I've adapted from several recipes to suit my tastes. Feel free to tweak it to
yours - it invites elaboration.
Begin by buttering the ramekins and preheating the oven to 375 degrees.
Melt six ounces of semi-sweet chocolate (about 55 percent chocolate liquor) and six ounces of butter in a
double boiler, stirring frequently until completely melted and smooth.
You can also do this in a microwave at 50 percent power, again stirring frequently.

Stir in two tablespoons of the liqueur of your choice. Possibilities include rum, brandy, Grand Marnier,
amaretto or Navan, a new vanilla-flavored cognac.
Now, using an electric mixture at high speed, beat together three eggs, a half cup of sugar and a pinch of
salt. Don't stop until the mixture is very light, like softly whipped cream.
Stir some of the egg mixture into the chocolate to lighten it, then fold in the rest. Divide the mixture
among the ramekins.

If you're preparing this in advance, cover the ramekins with plastic wrap and refrigerate until later in the
Otherwise, bake at 375 degrees until the cakes are puffed and cracked but still quite gooey on the inside, 15
to 20 minutes.
Serve immediately (the ramekins will be hot!). If you'd like, accompany the cakes with whipped cream or
ice cream - the 16-ounce ramekin size accommodates a scoop of ice cream nicely.
What to drink? I love chocolate with red wine, so I would eat these unadorned with the red wine leftover
from dinner.

A Rhone or Rhone-style wine would be a good choice, something like Bonny Doon's Le Cigare Volant.
However, I've also served these cakes with fresh ginger ice cream, a combination that screams for
Demi-sec Champagnes, which are slightly sweet, are great with dessert. Look for the demi-sec from Veuve
Clicquot or the less expensive domestic demi-sec from Gruet.
I've found these wines at Whole Foods, which has other tasty options to choose from.
With these bases covered, do you even need a main course?

Well - there's always onion rings.






































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