My Chocolate Valentine
February may signal the halfway mark through winter, but its real claim to fame is that it is the month to say I love you (in whatever form that takes) to everyone you care enough about to send a Valentines Day card, candy, roses, and maybe even a diamond! But to me nothing says I love you like something chocolate from your kitchen, so here is my Valentines Day gift to you, a rich and dense chocolate tart with a dreamy and creamy walnut sauce from my new book Ciao Italia Family Classics. Share it with your sweetie.
Fudgy Chocolate Tart with Walnut Cream Sauce
2 cups walnut halves
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into small pieces
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
Zest of 1 large orange
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or orange liquor
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons sugar
Butter a 9 x 1 1/2-inch round baking dish. Line the dish with a circle of parchment to fit the bottom of the pan and lightly butter the paper. Set aside.
Place the walnuts in a sauté pan and over low heat stir them until they smell fragrant. Do not let them burn. Cool and transfer 1 1/3 cups of the nuts to a food processor and process them until coarsely ground. Set aside.
Melt the butter in a bowl in the microwave or in a small saucepan. Stir in the chocolate and mix until smooth and well blended. Set aside.
Beat the eggs and sugar in a medium size bowl with a hand held mixer until the mixture thickens. Stir in the salt, orange zest, and 1 tablespoon of the vanilla or orange liquor. Stir in the walnuts, then stir in the chocolate and pour the mixture into the prepared pan.
Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes or until a cake skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Do not overbake the cake. It should remain moist. Cool the cake in the pan for 30 minutes.
Run a butter knife along the inside edge of the pan to loosen the cake and invert the pan onto a cooling rack. Remove and discard the parchment paper. Invert the cake and place it on a cake plate.
Melt the remaining butter in a saucepan and stir in the flour. Cook for 1 minute making sure that the paste is smooth and well blended. Slowly pour in the cream and stir in the remaining sugar and salt. Cook the mixture over medium heat until the sauce is smooth and has thickened. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the remaining walnuts and 1 teaspoon of vanilla or orange liquor.
To serve, cut the cake into wedges and pour some of the sauce over the top.