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Aphrodisiacs to romance your one and only Valentine Add to ...

Chocolate, of course, is the perfect ingredient for a Valentine's Day recipe. But it's even better with the added kick of chilies and beef, especially since all three are famed as aphrodisiacs. Combined, they make an exciting and romantic dinner.

CHOCOLATE CROSTINI

I would love to claim this as my recipe, but the idea belongs to Amanda Hesser from her book Cooking for Mr. Latte. She makes these crostini for dessert (without the chorizo) and sprinkles the chocolate with fleur de sel and a little extra virgin olive oil. We have turned this into an interesting hors d'oeuvre by adding the chorizo. Try it either way.

What you need

2 teaspoons olive oil

8 thin slices spicy chorizo

4 slices of baguette

2 ounces good-quality dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

Fleur de sel or Maldon salt

What you do

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add chorizo and fry for 1 minute, turning, or until crisped. Remove chorizo from pan and set aside.

Lightly brush chorizo fat from pan onto one side of baguette slices. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until crisp.

Divide chocolate between crostini and place in oven for 1 to 2 minutes or until chocolate is softened. Top with crisp chorizo and sprinkle with salt. Serves 2.

HANGER STEAK WITH COCOA-CHILI MARINADE

Chili and cocoa marinades are an integral part of Mexican cooking. Mole sauces are the best-known example of this combination of ingredients. Here is a simplified version that is sublime with hanger. If hanger is not available, then use flank.

What you need

Marinade:

1 tablespoon ancho chili powder or regular chili powder

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 teaspoon grated lime rind

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

¼ cup chopped coriander

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

¼ cup olive oil

500 grams (1 pound) hanger steak

½ cup beef or chicken stock

Salt to taste

What you do

Place ancho chili powder, cocoa powder, lime juice and rind, honey, garlic, coriander, vinegar and 3 tablespoons olive oil in a food processor or mini-chop and process until smooth.

Place steak in a dish and pour marinade over steak. Let sit for 2 hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Remove steak from marinade and add marinade to a pot along with stock. Bring marinade to boil, season with salt and boil until thickened a little. Reserve.

Season steak with salt. Heat an oven-proof grill pan or non-stick pan over high heat and add remaining oil. Sear steak on both sides, then place in the oven and bake for 5 minutes or until medium rare.

Place steak on a carving board and let sit for 2 minutes. Carve against the grain into thin slices. Drizzle with a little reserved sauce. Serves 2.

SOUTHERN SWEET POTATO MASH

This colourful side dish goes beautifully with the steak.

What you need

250 grams (8 ounces) sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

250 grams(8 ounces) red skinned potatoes, cut into smaller chunks

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/3 cup buttermilk

¼ cup chopped coriander

½ teaspoon hot pepper sauce

Salt to taste

What you do

Place sweet potatoes and red-skinned potatoes in a pot of salted cold water. Bring to a boil and boil for 10 to 15 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork. Drain water from pot. Add butter and mash to a coarse purée. Thin with buttermilk. Stir in coriander and hot pepper sauce. Season with salt to taste. Serves 2 .

WARM CHOCOLATE CAKE

Always the finest way to serve chocolate, this is often called chocolate volcano because of its rich, solid exterior and oozing saucy interior. Serve with whipped cream. The mixture can be made ahead and refrigerated. Remove from the fridge 30 minutes before baking to allow it to come to room temperature. Make sure the muffin tins are well greased for easy removal of the cakes. This makes more than 2 cakes, so if you can restrain yourself from eating them all, they make a decadent breakfast.

What you need

225 grams (6 ounces) bittersweet chocolate

1/3 cup unsalted butter

3 tablespoons sugar

3 egg yolks

2 egg whites

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour Whipped cream

What you do

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Butter 5 deep, non-stick large muffin cups and set aside.

Melt chocolate and butter together in a heavy pot over low heat. Cool slightly.

Beat together sugar and egg yolks with an electric mixer until thick and creamy, about 3 minutes.

Pour in chocolate-butter mixture and beat together for 5 minutes or until chocolate lightens in colour and thickens.

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes. Fold into egg yolk mixture along with flour.

Divide batter between muffin cups. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes or until edges are just cooked and centre is still liquid.

Cool for 5 minutes in tins. Carefully remove to serving dishes. Serve with lightly whipped cream. Serves 2 with leftovers.

 

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