Update: Giveaway is now closed. Congrats to Corinne of Sparecake for winning! I really loved hearing all your stories about Valentine’s Day – thanks for sharing! And keep an eye out for another chocolate-y giveaway this week…
Between 6th grade and 9th grade, I spent 3 summers at Brown Ledge sleep-away camp on the beautiful Lake Champlain in Northern Vermont. (Actually, I spent 1 summer at Camp Kiniya, then went to Brown Ledge, but BLC is where my fondest memories are from). While 3 summers doesn’t exactly qualify me as a summer camp junkie like some of my friends, I did love those long months, spent swimming in the lake, going on daily 5am horseback rides with the drill team, staying up giggling and swapping stories with my bunkies, singing songs and holding hands in the theater, savoring care packages from my parents and letters (signed “love”!) from my middle-school crush. Sometimes I was homesick, but it was such a positive experience overall – I hope my future kids are able to enjoy it someday.
On drop-off and pick-up days, my parents and I used to spend time in Burlington, getting Ben & Jerry’s and doing other things I can’t really remember. But I do remember eating Lake Champlain Chocolates, and being excited several years later when I found them in Wholefoods. I’ve always associated them with those sunny days at camp. So I was thrilled to see that LCC was one of the sponsors for the Blog Better Boston conference I went to at the end of October, and even more excited when, after the conference, I was able to connect with them to arrange a recipe development/giveaway post.
I knew I wanted this recipe to be something special – something decadent and Valentine’s Day worthy. I’ve had the combination of chocolate and hazelnuts floating around in my mind for days (inspired by a truffle I ate recently), so I knew where to start with the flavors. Lake Champlain sent me three of their select origin dark chocolate bars – a single-origin bar from Tanzania, one from Sao Thome, and an African blend. Before I dove into baking, of course, I had to taste all of them – I wasn’t too thorough, but they were definitely all different. I liked the bar from Sao Thome the best, as it had a round, fruity flavor. The Tanzania bar was smoother, lighter, and sweeter, even though it had a higher cocoa content. The African blend bar was darker and more bitter with coffee-like-notes. I decided that the Sao Thome (70% cocoa) and African blend (80% cocoa) bars would form the base of a dense, almost-flourless cake. The sweeter Tanzania bar (75% cocoa) would be used two ways – in a mascarpone-frangelico-chocolate mousse, and as a chocolate ganache. I’d make individually sized cakes that would be just the sort of dessert you could share on a romantic, Valentine’s Day date.
The cake, which was inspired by Pastry Affair’s (actually) flourless chocolate rum cake, came out dark, dense, moist, and not too sweet. By itself it’s very intense, but topped with the absolutely dreamy, boozy, mascarpone-based chocolate-frangelico mousse (which, if you can’t tell, I was SO happy with), and drizzled with a little chocolate ganache it was perfect. Rich, chocolaty, indulgent – just the sort of thing to impress a date… or to eat too much of by yourself when you’re feeling needy.
Giveaway Details: Never tried Lake Champlain Chocolate? No worries! Lake Champlain has generously offered to giveaway a giant heart-shaped box full of chocolate truffles to one lucky reader. To enter, leave me a comment below telling me about your most memorable Valentine’s Day. For one extra entry, follow me (@Kitchen_Door) and Lake Champlain Chocolates (@LCChocolates) and tweet about the giveaway, then come back here and leave me a second comment letting me know you tweeted! The giveaway will close at midnight on Saturday the 26th, at which point I’ll randomly choose a winner. Open to U.S. readers only. If the winner doesn’t respond to me within 48 hours of me notifying them they’ve won, I’ll have to pick an alternate winner.
Disclaimer: Lake Champlain Chocolates sent me some sample products free of charge to develop this recipe, and is hosting the giveaway. I received no compensation for writing this post, and was a fan of Lake Champlain Chocolates way before I started blogging!
Individual Chocolate-Hazelnut Mousse Cakes
Original recipe overall, but cake recipe was inspired by Pastry Affair. Makes 4 individual cakes; each cake can easily be shared by 2 people.
For the cake:
- 6 oz. high quality chocolate with at least 75% cocoa content, roughly chopped (I used a blend of Lake Champlain Chocolate’s Sao Thome bar (70%) and African Blend bar (80%)
- 1 stick salted butter, cubed
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 c. sugar
- 1/4 c. rum
- 6 TBS flour
- 6 TBS high quality cocoa powder (I used Lake Champlain Chocolate’s organic cocoa)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line an 8×8 inch square baking pan with parchment paper. Set prepared pan aside. Add the chocolate and the butter to a small saucepan and heat over very low heat until fully melted, stirring the whole time. Set aside and let cool slightly.
- Beat together the eggs and sugar until thick and pale yellow, at least 3-4 minutes. Stir the rum into the chocolate mixture, then slowly fold the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture.
- Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Fold into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula so that the batter rests evenly in the pan (it won’t spread much). Bake for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean, with only a few moist crumbs attached. Set cake aside.
For the frangelico chocolate mousse:
- 1/4 c. mascarpone cheese
- 1/2 c. heavy cream
- 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 TBS sugar
- 5 TBS frangelico (hazelnut liqueur)
- 1 1/2 oz. dark chocolate (I used LCC’s Tanzania bar (75% cocoa))
- 1 TBS butter
- Whisk together the mascarpone and heavy cream. Sprinkle with the cream of tartar, then beat until cream has stiffened enough to hold soft peaks. Sprinkle with sugar, and whisk in. Beat in the frangelico one TBS at a time.
- Over very low heat, melt together the chocolate and the butter in a small saucepan, stirring the whole time. As soon as it is fully melted, remove from heat, and let cool slightly.
- Pour warm chocolate over the whipped cream. Whisk in to incorporate. Mousse should be thick and spreadable. Refrigerate until needed.
For the chocolate ganache:
- 2 oz. dark chocolate (I used LCC’s Tanzania bar (75% cocoa))
- 2 TBS heavy cream
Add the dark chocolate and the heavy cream to a small saucepan and heat over very low heat, stirring until melted. Remove from heat and set aside
- 1 recipe chocolate-rum cake (above)
- 1 recipe frangelico-chocolate mousse (above)
- 1 recipe chocolate ganache (above)
- 2 TBS chopped, toasted hazelnuts
Use a biscuit cutter to cut four 2-inch rounds out of the cake – save the extra pieces for snacking. Place the four cake rounds on four plates, and divide the mousse amongst the four plates, spreading it evenly on top of the cake. Place cakes in the freezer for 10 minutes to allow mousse to firm up slightly. Remove from freezer, and drizzle with the ganache (rewarmed slightly if necessary). Sprinkle with the toasted hazelnuts, and serve!
I can’t really call to mind any particularly memorable Valentine’s Day, although the most recent one with my boyfriend was quite nice – we had a home-cooked steak dinner, and an evening in by the fire. It was relaxed and perfect.
Andrea D. says
My most memorable Valentine’s Day was when I was dating my husband. We had a nice heart shaped pizza. He danced with me for the first time even though he doesn’t like to. He got a romantic movie for us to watch and I got roses. Thanks for the chance to enter.
The most memorable was one sweet date who “treated” me to homemade spaghetti and brownies…definitely a newbie in the kitchen, they were both way overdone (supermushy spaghetti and supercrispified brownies) but still so very thoughtful and still my favorite V-day to this day! :)
My most memorable Valentine’s Day was when my husband and I were still dating. He bought me a box of cherry cordial-filled chocolates that were made at the Four Seasons restaurant in New York for only a couple of weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day. The chocolates were so delicious.
Andrea C. says
Wow! These look decadent.
Becky A says
Valentine’s day is my most favorite holiday, so they are all pretty memorable, but one of my favorites is our first V-day in college! You and I sat on my dorm bedroom floor and made personalized cards for all of our friends and then we (ahem, you) made delicious cupcakes. These look amazing!!
Marissa Fay says
I hate to say it, but my most memorable Valentine’s day was when I was about 6 or 7 years old. I went a little overboard at our school Valentine’s party, and ended up throwing up all night! My poor mother! xoxo
The only Valentine’s I’ve done _anything_ was years ago in college when I drove my suitemates the hour up to my house and we ate ice cream and watched tv all night. It was a good time, if not very Valentine-y.
Oh, that is easy. Valentine’s Day is forever firmly planted in my heart as one of the most special days of my life. Because of Valentine’s Day in the year 2000. You see, we had been dealing with infertility for many years and almost given up. But a herbal mix of various ingredients which I had designed for myself (after much research) did what no medicines could. Bless us with a pregnancy. And on that Valentine’s Day my daughter was one of only two babies born in that hospital. She’ll be turning thirteen years old this year and I couldn’t be prouder of her. Incidentally and interestingly, she prefers dark chocolate over the regular milk chocolates. But then, unlike her little brother, she doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth.
Thanks for making me smile this morning with lovely memories and your beautiful pictures. Have a marvelous week!
My most memorable Valentine’s Day was two years ago, during my last semester of college. My boyfriend and I made cheese fondue together in my apartment. He’s not the biggest fan of vegetables, while I don’t eat meat, so it’s sometimes hard to find a meal to enjoy together. But the fondue was perfect — everything is better in cheese, of course! And I surprised him with an apple pie for dessert. (My second most memorable holiday was when we cooked and shared a meal via Skype while he’s living in CA and I’m in VA.)
My first Vday as a married lady — we had just gone through some serious health issues that had only reaffirmed our love for each other. :)
My most memorable Valentine’s day was easily last year, when my fiance and I built a beautiful fort in our living room using sheets and throws and picnic blankets and scarves and twine and Christmas lights… we filled the floor of the fort with pillows, had a great picnic in there, and ended up leaving it up for a few months because we enjoyed reading and hanging out in there so much!
Bryan Roe says
All Valentine’s Days are special, if you have the right person to spend it with. Someone to hold, care about and show how you feel.
Nothing too memorable – it’s not a holiday I care for. But, I love chocolate!
Dan T says
Valentines day is a sore subject for me, but I do love chocolates…
Natalie S says
My most memorable Valentine’s day was when I cooked my parents a 5-course, candlelight, gourmet meal so that they could celebrate.
My most memorable was on 2012, I cooked everything in a heart shape for my son and husband. My little one loved it!
Food and Forage Hebrides says
An utterly delightful combination of ingredients. Frangelico mousse is inspired, I will try this, it being one of my favourite liqueurs. Thnaks, Tracey
Chocolate and hazelnut never gets old as a combo. These look delicious!
We spent a week in the Bahamas during Valentine’s week. It was so amazing, relaxing, and romantic.
Tweeted this giveaway. Lake Champlain chocolates are AMAZING. What a nice treat it would be to win.
My husband once got me 14 boxes of chocolate because Valentine’s Day is on February 14th!
My most memorable Valentine’s Day would have to be 2011, the first one we got to celebrate as a married couple! I had never been much of a cook, but I was just starting to branch out and try new things. For Valentine’s Day, I decided to go all out. I made broiled lobster and filet mignon with loaded baked potatoes, grilled asparagus, and chocolate lava cakes for dessert. My husband helped me with the cooking, and we laughed endlessly as we watched youtube videos explaining how to get the shell off a lobster (because we certainly had no idea). In the end, the meal was one of the best we’d ever had, and it was a perfect day spent together.
Karen D says
Most ‘special’…when my grandson was 18 months old and scribbled me a Valentine! Still have it!
Karen D says
Tweeted at https://twitter.com/KDFF/status/293700394733936640
My most memorable Valentine’s Day was the first with my now-husband. We had an amazing wine while making our own chicken b’stilla.
Following both @Kitchen_Door and @LCChocolates, and tweeted the giveaway (@squirrelbread).
I just ate dinner with my boyfriend at a fancy restaurant we had been dying to try. Simple, but a huge treat for ourselves :)
Valentine’s day was most fun in Middle school for me- there was always so much drama around who got a valentine from who and then there would be “secret” ones too
Liz B. says
My date took me to an elegant dinner and the ballet on Valentine’s Day, 2003. He’s now my husband!
My most memorable Valentine’s Day was 2 years ago when my best guy friend took me out (just as friends). By the end of the week we were dating and just a couple months ago he proposed.
still waiting for a really memorable 14th…maybe this is the year!!
Maria (BearMountainBooks) says
My most memorable Valentine’s will be the next one! Why look back? I plan to make all of the future ones the best!!!
Alicia K says
My most memorable Valentine’s day was a simple one where my boyfriend cooked dinner, bought flowers, and just pampered me for the evening.
Last year I recreated a dish from our favorite place in our old city- it was lovely.
Joy E. says
My most memorable Valentine’s Day was a few years ago when my beginner-level boyfriend cooked a full meal for me….it was so good! I was very surprised.
Joy E. says
Sorry, I meant to say beginner-level cook……
Now that I’m part of an old married couple, I have to say that my most memorable Valentine’s Day include my children. We typically enjoy the day as a family & I wouldn’t have it ny other way. Oh, and did I mention that we enjoy it by sharing lots of chocolate? ; )
My Soldier coming from a 30 day deployment training a day early and surprising me with flowers and box of chocolate I didn’t even know until I open the door on Valentine Day.
Sure he was dirty and still had his dusty uniform on and needed a bath, but I was happy that the military did us wives and family this special surprise because it was my first year over sea in the military. 20 year ago
Aunt Deanne says
My most memorable Valentine’s was when I had two suitors and 2 different dates (separate evenings of course). Lots of roses and chocolates and fine dining. Ahh, to be young again.
Blueberry Kitchen says
Yum, the chocolate mousse cakes look amazing – such stunning photos!
The Valentine’s Day that your dad proposed. There were also lots of fun ones once you kids arrived – chocolate hearts at breakfast, etc. Don’t enter my name, I don’t need any more chocolate but I wanted to comment on how yummy these look and how much fun it is to read these other comments – what a nice idea!
Lisa Eizaddoust says
This cake has given me inspiration! I have been married to my valentine 35years! A long time to still be in love! I remember Valentines Day back in 1984 my valentine of 35 years too me to an amazing bakery called Alon’s. we shared amazing dessert and Coffee together and while we were eating and enjoying our coffee he slid a box with a now across the table! He said, “because I couldn’t afford to give you a proper ring when we were married, this is for you”! And I promptly cried with joy! It was a beautiful diamond ring! And I will never forget the dessert we shared, it was St. Honore’, a puff pastry cake with fresh whipped crime and caramel sauce! And ever since then I get inspired to bake and create beautiful and delicious cakes! thank you for inspiring me this year with your story and creation!
Lisa Eizaddoust says
Just followed you Katie and Tweeted about the giveaway! So happy! :)
Muna Kenny (@Munatycooking) says
Amazing pictures! I saw it on Facebook and came running to the blog. One question though, I don’t drink alcohol, so with what shall I replace the rum? Or can I just discard it?