Everyday Food (January/February 2010)
We're not big Valentine's Day people.
It's not that we hate romance. It's just that we dislike many of the trappings of Valentine's Day, especially the thought of a crowded restaurant stuffed with roses and overpriced prix fixe menus.
For many years now, we've tended to spend Valentine's at home, staying in and making a nice meal.
This is just one of the reasons we loved the "Eat Out (At Home)" feature in the January/February issue of Everyday Food.
It's everything we want in an at-home Valentine's Day meal: a nice salad (in this case, Caesar salad for two), a beautiful entree (Steak and Shrimp with Parsley Potatoes), and a scrumptious looking dessert (these Black Forest Upside-Down Cakes).
While snowed in this weekend, we decided to give these Black Forest Upside-Down Cakes a spin.
On Friday morning our Nation's Capital was in a frenzy preparing for the Snowpocalypse. Before going to work that morning, we ventured to the supermarket in our neighborhood to pick up a few items we wanted to cook this weekend.
It was 8:00 a.m. The store was packed; the lines, immense. Shelves were being emptied. People were crying. It was mayhem.
Okay, so there wasn't any crying or mayhem, but it was super busy.
We had all the ingredients on hand for this dessert except for two: heavy cream and a jar of sour cherries.
There was no heavy cream to be found. (Perhaps Washington was getting drunk on White Russians during the storm?) Thankfully, we later found some cream crammed in the back of our refrigerator, hiding behind our Aged Eggnog.
We looked high and low for jarred sour cherries. There were maraschino cherries, but using those just seemed wrong. And there were green maraschino cherries, which would have made for a hilarious but nuclear-looking dessert. There were no other jarred cherries.
But we did find Oregon Fruit Products Pitted Red Tart Cherries in Water, with their adorable cans. The Oregon Fruit Company has been family-owned and operated since the 1920s, when it started as a dried fruit company. The company then shifted to a focus on canned fruits during the Depression.
The cherries inside were beautiful and perfectly tart. We're assuming they're identical to the cherries Everyday Food had in mind for this recipe.
These cakes come together very quickly. Melt butter, brown sugar and cherry juice ramekins. Layer cherries on top. Mix up a quick batter, pour it on top of the cherries and bake. It's all easily done in 45 minutes. In fact, you could assemble these, let them bake while you make the rest of your meal, and then let them cool while you eat your entree.
The finished result is adorable. Once the cakes are inverted onto plates, the beautiful cherries sitting atop the chocolate cake look absolutely scrumptious. We found, though, that our cherries didn't cook to the degree that's pictured in the magazines. In the magazine, the cherries look very well cooked and nearly caramelized. Ours, as you can see, look much like they did coming out of the can. Perhaps we put too many cherries in our ramekins?
We think this is a really good, basic dessert for Valentine's Day. We loved the combination of the cherries with the chocolate cake, but at the same time, it's not going to completely blow your socks off. It's the kind of easy, very manageable recipe that you'll make, share and enjoy, but not the kind of dessert you'll be thinking about until next February.
If you're a beginner cook, make these little cakes. You'll love them. But if you're Jacques Torres, well, you'll likely want to try another dish.
What are you doing for Valentine's Day? Hitting your favorite restaurant? Cooking at home? Sticking pins in a voodoo doll of your ex? Let us know in the comments.
More Ideas for Valentine's Desserts:
- Soft Chocolate Cookies with Grapefruit and Star Anise
- Profiteroles with Coffee Ice Cream and Chocolate Sauce
- Milk-Chocolate Creams
- Orange-Scented Bittersweet Chocolate Cake with Candied Blood Orange Compote
active time: 15 min
total time: 45 min + cooling
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar
1 1/2 cups drained jarred sour cherries (1 teaspoon juice reserved)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 large egg yolk
3 tablespoons whole milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons rum
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place 1 tablespoon butter, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon cherry juice in the bottom of each of two 8-ounce ramekins. Microwave ramekins until butter and brown sugar are melted and bubbling, about 1 minute. Arrange cherries in a tightly packed layer in the bottom of each ramekin.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. In another small bowl, stir together 2 tablespoons butter and 1/3 cup brown sugar with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Stir in egg yolk, then flour mixture and milk. Divide batter between ramekins.
Place ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a cake comes out with only a few crumbs attached, about 30 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack, 20 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, beat cream, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, and rum until soft peaks form. Run a paring knife around edge of each cake and invert onto a plate. Serve cakes with rum whipped cream.