A Valentines Dessert Disaster & Recovery




What a pretty disaster

I am not big on grand romantic gestures, I like a surprise cup of coffee in bed on a Sunday or having left the house for work in an early morning, half- awake tizz to come home to a pristinely dressed bed and a homemade dinner because Dave knows that is how to soothe my frazzled nerves. These little acts of fondness that say I know you and I think this will make you happy are what have kept us together through some very tough times over the last ten years.

Dave’s small act of kindness this year will be to sit quietly through Jupiter Ascending with nary a sneer or derisive snort even though he still hasn’t forgiven the Wachowskis for the second and third Matrix films. I am going to indulge both my fondness for spectacle sci fi with Mila Kunis’ glorious floral headdress and my fondness for Channing Tatum and I will do it in peace and possibly a bit tipsy.

Since we are not in to big romantic things our Valentines meals tend to be low key, on more than one occasion it has just been a lot of cheese and some good red wine. We like to keep it simple so neither of us are stressed out from spending all day in the kitchen. Going out to eat is a definite no no, Valentines meals are usually sub- par at the best of times but I would hate to test a crazy busy kitchen in terms of cross contamination and gluten free cooking.

Although I would usually advise people to just split a tub of fancy ice cream for dessert on this Hallmark holiday this year I decided to try and make something sweet and good for sharing and believe me when I say what could go wrong went very wrong and although the finished dish looked pretty and tasted good it was not a shining moment in terms of texture. My plan was to layer raspberry coulis, dark chocolate mousse and raspberry mousse and serve with dark chocolate shortbread biscuits. The coulis and the biscuits are perfect, the biscuits in particular have the lovely richness of a good bourbon biscuit and I will be making these again. However disaster struck both of my mousse recipes, my chocolate split so it is slightly grainy and there was too much gelatine in the raspberry mousse for my taste, I like a soft yielding mousse and this was a bit too firm for me.

Luckily the world did not end.  That is the important thing to remember if you plan on cooking tomorrow, if it all goes tits up and disaster strikes your kitchen you will know that your valentine is true if you are both laughing as you cobble together some kind of dinner or just heft everything in the bin and order take out. If there is any kind of disdainful look thrown your way, any harsh judgement then my advice would be to call it and with a haughtily raised eyebrow show that person the door.

What I will be doing for desert tomorrow is buying a really good vanilla ice cream and serving it with the warmed raspberry coulis and the chocolate shortbread biscuits and those are the recipes I am going to share here.

Raspberry Coulis


2 cups of frozen raspberries
Slice of lemon zest
¼ cup of honey

• Place the raspberries, honey and lemon zest in a saucepan and cook over a medium low heat until the raspberries have broken down and dissolved in to a lovely fragrant syrup.
• Set aside to cool.
The recipe makes a good bit of coulis but you can enjoy this stirred in to Prosecco, over ice cream, stirred in to yogurt or rice pudding or drizzled over a fruit filled pavlova so this is to going to go to waste.

Chocolate Chip Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
(adapted slightly from http://www.tarteletteblog.com/)

4 ounces of unsalted butter
¼ cup of caster sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 & ¼ cup of Doves Farm Gluten Free Plain Flour
¼ cup of cocoa powder
1/3 cup of chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips


• Line a baking sheet
• Beat together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy, if you don’t have a mixer go at it with a wooden spoon and elbow grease!
• Beat in the egg yolks one at a time, scrapping down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is fully incorporated
• Turn the speed to low and mix in the flour, cocoa powder and chopped chocolate. Be sure and reduce the speed or you will end up with a flour covered kitchen.
• Turn the dough out on to a surface dusted with cocoa powder and bring it together in a ball.
• Wrap in cling film and chill for an hour.
• Pre heat your oven to Gas 4 / 180 /350f
• Remove the dough from the fridge and place it between two pieces of baking parchment and roll out until ¼ inch thick.
• You can use cookie cutter to cut out the cookies, heart shaped if you wish or simply cut the dough in to rectangles with a knife.
• Place the cookies on the lined baking sheet and place in the oven.
• Bake for eight to ten minutes, like all cookies these will still be slightly soft when you remove them from the oven, they will crisp up as they cool.
• Allow to cool before serving, the cookies will keep for a few days in an airtight container


I am not giving up on my initial desert idea, I think the theory is sound but the practice needs work but I will enjoy a very chilled out evening tomorrow with ice cream, cookies and raspberry syrup.

VO71mousse9aThe desert that should have been, sigh

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