Pascale's Kitchen: Valentine's Day

I’ve presented recipes at three different levels of difficulty so that there is something fitting for everyone.

 Crispy heart cookies with vanilla cream filling (photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
Crispy heart cookies with vanilla cream filling
(photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

This upcoming Monday is Valentine’s Day, a day that celebrates romance and love, and on which many people offer their loved ones gifts and chocolates.

Here in Israel, many people have chosen to celebrate this special day, even though the Jewish calendar already has its own holiday of love on the 15th of Av.

I prefer to celebrate the Jewish holiday of love, but I received so many requests for Valentine’s Day recipes that I decided to offer my readers romantic ideas for this day, too. To that end, I invited pastry chef Livnat Gotlib, who runs the UgaChaka Studio in Yavne, to join me for a day of pink celebration.

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Livnat worked as an engineer in hi-tech for years, until one day she decided to follow her heart and spend her time and energy creating pastries. Livnat took a master class at Estella, and then continued her studies with chefs in Israel and around the world.

 Ruby chocolate and yogurt heart petits fours (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN) Ruby chocolate and yogurt heart petits fours (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

Livnat offers workshops, as well as in-depth pastry courses, and she recently began teaching a master class for more advanced chefs. In addition, Livnat promotes her work on Facebook and Instagram, and assists businesses to develop unique recipes. She was even recently invited by Calleaut in Belgium to create recipes for ruby chocolate petits fours.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, Livnat and I set out to make a number of pink heart desserts. The first recipe is heart cookies with vanilla filling.

The second recipe is for marble cake that is really easy to make from ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. To make it special for Valentine’s Day, it is baked in a heart-shaped mold.

The third recipe is geared toward more experienced bakers: ruby chocolate and yogurt petits fours with bright pink icing. The unique combination of the ruby chocolate and the yogurt, and the bright pink color of the icing makes for a special treat.

I’ve presented recipes at three different levels of difficulty so that there is something fitting for everyone.

CRISPY HEART COOKIES WITH VANILLA CREAM FILLING

Best to prepare cream the day before.

Makes 24 cookies.

Vanilla cream:

  • ½ cup (100 ml.) sweet cream
  • 2 tsp. vanilla paste
  • 1 cup (160 gr.) white chocolate
  • 30 gr. butter, cut into little cubes

Dough:

  • 1¾ cups (250 gr.) white flour
  • ½ tsp. (2 gr.) salt
  • 150 gr. cold butter, cut into cubes
  • 10 Tbsp. (95 gr.) powdered sugar
  • 5½ Tbsp. (38 gr.) ground almonds
  • ½ tsp. pink food coloring powder
  • 1 medium egg

To prepare the vanilla cream, pour the sweet cream into a pot, then add the vanilla paste and bring to a boil. Add the white chocolate and mix until smooth. Add the butter and mix with an immersion blender. Let the mixture cool in the fridge for 5 hours.

To prepare the dough, add the flour, salt and butter to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a flat beater hook. Mix well until dough is crumbly. Add the powdered sugar, ground almonds and food coloring powder. Mix for 2 minutes. Add the egg and mix.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, flatten gently with a rolling pin and place in the freezer for 1 hour or in the fridge for 2 hours.

Roll out the dough on a floured work surface until it’s 2.5 mm. thick. Use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut out dough hearts. Use a tiny heart cookie cutter to cut out a tiny heart in the middle of half of the cookies.

Arrange the dough pieces on a tray, then cover with baking paper or a silicone mat with holes. Put in the freezer for 15 minutes, then bake in an oven that has been preheated to 160° for 10 minutes. Let cool completely.

To construct the cookies, transfer the cream to a pastry bag and cut off the tip. Spread cream on all the intact cookies, then cover with the cookies with a tiny heart in their center.

The cookies can be kept for 5 days in the fridge or up to 2 months in the freezer.

Level of difficulty: Easy.Time: 1 hour (not including freezer time).Status: Dairy.

 Fancy marble cake (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN) Fancy marble cake (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
FANCY MARBLE CAKE

Makes two 20 cm.-diameter heart cakes.

  • 255 gr. butter
  • 1½ cups (400 gr.) sugar
  • 4½ medium eggs
  • 3¼ cups (485 gr.) flour
  • 1½ tsp. (7 gr.) baking powder
  • 2 containers (400 gr.) sour cream
  • ½ cup (100 ml.) milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla paste
  • 1 heaping Tbsp. (50 gr.) pistachio paste
  • ¼ cup (30 gr.) chopped pistachios
  • 5½ Tbsp. (80 gr.) brown demerara sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. (10 gr.) cocoa powder, sifted
  • ½ cup (90 gr.) bittersweet chocolate 50%-60%
  • 1 tsp. coffee paste (or 1 tsp. instant coffee, diluted with 1 tsp. boiling water)
  • 2 Tbsp. chocolate liqueur

Chocolate ruby crunchy icing:

  • 1 cup (150 gr.) whole almonds
  • 4½ cups (750 gr.) ruby chocolate
  • 2/3 cup (120 ml.) canola oil

Add the softened butter and sugar to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Mix well. Add the eggs one at a time while mixing. Mix another 5 minutes until light and fluffy.

Switch to a flat beater hook on the mixer and alternately add the flour and baking powder, then the sour cream and milk while mixing. Mix until smooth.

Pour the mixture into three bowls. Add the vanilla paste to the first bowl; add the pistachio paste to the second bowl; and add the sugar, cocoa powder, chocolate, coffee and liqueur to the third bowl.

Pour the three batters into both of the baking pans, one on top of the other. Then, drag a knife through the batter to form a marble design.

Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 170° for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick stuck into the center of the cake comes out dry.

To prepare the icing, fry the almonds for 3 minutes in a hot frying pan, then let them cool and chop them coarsely.

Put the ruby chocolate in a glass bowl and melt in the microwave a few seconds at a time. Add the oil and mix well. Add the chopped almonds and mix well.

Place the cakes on a wire rack on top of a baking tray, then pour icing on top of cakes. Serve cakes on a serving platter.

Cakes can be stored in airtight containers for up to 5 days at room temperature or 2 months in the freezer.

Level of difficulty: Medium.Time: 2¼ hours (not including freezer time).Status: Dairy.

RUBY CHOCOLATE AND YOGURT HEART PETITS FOURS

Makes 15 petits fours.

Ruby chocolate and yogurt mousse:

  • 4 Tbsp. (77 gr.) yogurt 3%
  • 1/3 cup (60 gr.) ruby chocolate
  • 1 Tbsp. (14 gr.) cocoa butter
  • ½ tsp. (2 gr.) gelatin, diluted in 1 Tbsp. (12 ml.) cold water
  • ½ cup (110 ml.) sweet cream

Chocolate dough:

  • 1½ cups (230 gr.) flour
  • 2 Tbsp. (20 gr.) cocoa powder, sifted
  • ½ tsp. (2 gr.) salt
  • 150 gr. cold butter, cut into cubes
  • 10 Tbsp. (95 gr.) powdered sugar
  • 5½ Tbsp. (38 gr.) ground almonds
  • 1 medium egg

Chocolate ruby icing:

  • 3 Tbsp. (45 ml.) water
  • 5 Tbsp. (90 gr.) sugar
  • 1 heaping Tbsp. (90 gr.) glucose
  • 1½ Tbsp. (45 gr.) concentrated milk
  • 2/3 cup (120 gr.) ruby chocolate
  • 1½ Tbsp. (20 gr.) cocoa butter
  • 1½ tsp. (7 gr.) gelatin, diluted in 3 Tbsp. (42 ml.) cold water
  • ½ tsp. bright pink food coloring

Topping:

  • ½ cup cocoa beans, crushed

To prepare the mousse, heat the yogurt in a pot over a low flame. Do not let it boil.

Place the chocolate and cocoa butter in a bowl and melt a few seconds at a time in the microwave. Add the hot yogurt and the dissolved gelatin and mix using an immersion blender. Place in the freezer for 5 minutes.

Whip the sweet cream gently with an electric mixer and then fold into the chocolate mixture. Transfer to a pastry bag and squeeze out into heart-shaped silicone molds with a diameter of 4 cm. Put in the freezer for 5 hours.

To prepare the chocolate base, add the flour, cocoa powder, salt and butter to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a flat beater attachment. Mix until it becomes crumbly like couscous. Add the powdered sugar and ground almonds and mix. Add the egg and mix a few more seconds.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and flatten using a rolling pin. Place in the freezer for 1 hour.

Roll out the dough on a floured work surface until it is 2.5 mm. thick. Cut out hearts with a 6.5-cm. diameter cookie cutter (slightly larger than the mousse hearts). Arrange them on a baking tray and place in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 160° for 10 minutes. Let cool completely.

To prepare the icing, add the water, sugar and glucose to a pot and bring to a boil. Remove from the flame, then add the concentrated milk. Mix well.

Place the chocolate and cocoa butter in a bowl and pour the sugar mixture on top. Add the dissolved gelatin and the food coloring. Mix with an immersion blender until smooth. Strain to prevent any bubbles in the icing.

To construct the petits fours, remove the mousse pieces from the silicone molds and arrange them on a wire rack. Heat the icing to 35° and then pour over the hearts. Place the mousse hearts on top of the chocolate base hearts. Sprinkle with crumbled cocoa beans.

The petits fours can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days or 2 months in the freezer.

Level of difficulty: Difficult.Time: 2 hours (not including freezer time).Status: Dairy.

Translated by Hannah Hochner.