It’s hard to believe, but the way to say “be mine” used to be with cards and flowers. Then around the Civil War, the price of sugar dropped and candy makers, seeing a golden opportunity, practically reinvented the holiday.
Named after Saint Valentine of Rome and Saint Valentine of Termi, Valentine’s Day was turned into a multi-million dollar candy bonanza with tiny pastel-colored sugar hearts printed with endearments and fancy chocolates in boxes covered in crushed velvet and decorated with flowers.
Because we think there is no such thing as too much chocolate on Valentine’s Day, we head to the kitchen and whip up something deliciously rich and chocolaty to go along with the candy. That’s where Warm Bittersweet Chocolate Rum Torte comes in.
The torte, which has Valentine’s Day practically written in every mouthful, is easy enough to make. Like an airy souffle, it rises as it bakes and starts to fall almost as soon as it comes out of the oven. The dense, fudge-like cake, gently flavored with dark rum, is covered with a thin crust that cracks when the torte is cut. It’s very accommodating and can be served while warm, at room temperature or after a night in the refrigerator.
The torte is good with vanilla custard sauce, but when pressed for time, a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream works just fine. Lastly, saying it serves eight is may be a stretch. For chocolate lovers, four may be more like it.
Warm Bittersweet Chocolate Rum Torte
This warm, creamy torte is a chocolate-lover’s dream. It is made very quickly and can be popped into the oven just before you sit down to dinner. Make the vanilla custard sauce ahead and chill until serving.
Vanilla Custard Sauce:
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
3 tablespoons dark rum
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
4 eggs, separated
2 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa
1/8 teaspoon salt
1. To prepare custard sauce, whisk together half-and-half, egg yolks, sugar and salt in a heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until thickened. Let cool slightly and stir in vanilla. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours or overnight.
2. Preheat oven to 300F. Coat bottom and sides of an 8-inch springform pan with cooking spray.
3. To prepare torte, combine chocolate with rum in a small heavy saucepan. Set pan over very low heat and stir occasionally until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth (or melt in microwave).
4. In a medium bowl, beat butter with a mixer on medium speed until smooth. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar and beat 2 to 3 minutes, until smooth and fluffy. Add egg yolks and beat 1 minute. On low speed, beat in melted chocolate mixture (which may still be warm) only until thoroughly combined. Add cocoa and beat until incorporated.
5. In another medium bowl, with clean beaters, beat egg whites with salt until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in remaining sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until stiff peaks form.
6. With a large rubber spatula, gently fold one fourth of whites into chocolate mixture. Add remaining whites, folding gently. Spoon batter into pan.
7. Bake 40 to 50 minutes. The torte will rise to the top of the pan during baking but will sink dramatically as it cools.
8. To serve, remove sides of springform pan and cut with a sharp knife. Serve with custard sauce. Serves 8.
VARIATION: To make a coffee-flavored torte, melt the chocolate with 3 tablespoons Kahlua instead of rum.
Recipe by Greg Patent
Per serving: 290 calories, 18g fat, 4g prot., 35g carbs., 0g fiber, 95mg sodium.
Look for Relish magazine, celebrating America’s love of food, each month in the Tooele Transcript-Bulletin. For more Relish recipes and to sign up for our newsletters, log on to relish.com. To download our new Relish digital editions and Relish Daily Dish phone app, go to relish.com/mobile
Photo credit: Mark Boughton Photography; styling by Teresa Blackburn