The patron saint of chocolate

February 13, 2008

The finest chocolate in the world comes from Belgium. Here are some of the chocolates Elizabeth brought home from her trip to Europe. She got them in a shop in Bruges. Belgian chocolates

The most memorable Valentines Day card I ever received came years ago, when I was a fifth-grade teacher. I had a student whose name was Melvin, and he was what was politely known as a “challenging” child. I like to think a lot of his issues stemmed from his natural exuberance. No matter how much trouble he got into, Melvin always had that special joie de vivre that made him so much fun, even when he was disrupting the other twenty kids in the class.

One of Melvin’s biggest challenges was sitting still long enough to actually write words on paper. He wasn’t very good at it. His penmanship was awful, his spelling worse, his grammar and syntax quite…caveman-like. But he never lost heart, and one Valentine’s Day, he spent the entire morning diligently working on something secret involving a posterboard and those colored fat markers that smell like fruit. (That smell still takes me back!)

At the end of the day, when it was time for the big valentine exchange and chocolate fest, Melvin proudly presented me with the biggest card I’d ever seen. It was about 2 feet tall, 100% homemade, reeking of fruit-scented markers. Inside was a giant heart with two eyes and a huge, smiling mouth, and the inscription, “Mrs Wiggs – HAPPY VD” and it was signed, Love, Melvin. It’s the only time anyone’s ever wished me Happy VD, so I’ll always remember that.

Finally, here is something to make your Valentine’s Day rich and delicious. I found this in the magazine discard pile at the public library. It’s from something called “The Week.” Below, I’ve simplified and adapted it for 2 or 3 servings. My hips can’t take anymore than that.

Individual Chocolate Souffle Cakes

2 Tbsp soft unsalted butter

2 eggs

pinch salt

6 oz bittersweet chocolate (use good quality brand with a high percentage of cocoa solids)

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup flour

Place a cookie sheet in the oven and preheat oven to 400. Spray 3 small custard cups with Pam. Melt the chocolate in the microwave or in a double boiler. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one by one with a pinch of salt, and add the vanilla. Then blend in chocolate. Pour into custard cups, place the cups on the hot baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, until the tops are firm and dry. Invert each cup on a serving plate and dust with confectioner’s sugar. If you’re feeling creative, use raspberry coulis to draw a heart around the edge of the plate.

chocolates from Bruges

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