My Valentines dessert took a savory twist. After hours of looming over recipes, photos, blogs and more I finally came up with a concept that could have, in concept, appeared to be more appropriate for a lunch menu than dessert. But in application it was more sweet than savory and more decadent than dinner – for those of us who eat dinner for the mere purpose of being “allowed” to eat our dessert. :)

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For their final course our Valentine diners sipped Chocolate Soup with Creme Fraiche, dipped into that soup with a Brioche and Saint Andre cheese panini then washed that all down with Basil Mint Chocolate chunk ice cream.

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(notice the rather large pregnant belly)

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This is a special version plated for my Valentine

The inspiration for this dessert started with the desire to do some sort of sipping chocolate. To this day my most memorable dessert experience was over a warm bowl of liquid chocolate and unsweetened whipped cream. I have also recently had a fascination with pairing cheese with dessert – hence the Saint Andre which pairs marvelously with rich desserts as the fat content and subtle flavors marries well and holds up to the intensity of say, chocolate. And the Basil Mint ice cream seemed like a refreshing compliment to the rich panini and soup.

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Chocolate Soup

8 oz Bittersweet Chocolate (I used Valrhona 70% Guanaja)

8 oz Heavy whipping cream

6 oz Whole Milk

1/4 tsp Fleur de Sel

Bring milk and cream to a light boil. Add to chocolate. Let sit for one minute. Whisk to combine. Add salt.

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Basil Mint Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream

from The Essence of Chocolate, contributed by Elizabeth Falkner

2 cups whole milk

1 cup sugar

2 cups heavy cream

40 peppermint or spearmint leaves

12 large basil leaves

A large handful of spinach leaves

6 oz good quality dark chocolate (Valrhona 70%)

Combine the milk and sugar and bring to a boil. Refrigerate this mixture until cold.

Combine the cream, mint and basil in a sauce pan. Bring to a simmer then turn off heat. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes.

Blanch spinach in boiling water just until the leaves turn a bright green. Immediately put the leaves in ice water so they stop cooking.

Combine the spinach and milk syrup in a blender. Blend until bright green. Strain this mixture. Strain the cream, mint and basil into the spinach and milk syrup. Cover this entire mixture with plastic wrap and chill until cold.

Follow the instructions of your ice cream maker and spin until soft. Add the chopped chocolate when the ice cream is still spinning but has reached soft serve consistency. Remove from ice cream maker and freeze until firm, 1-2 hours.

For the paninis…

Best quality brioche or other rich bread.

Saint Andre Cheese

Sandwich a generous portion of Saint Andre between two pieces of bread. Press in a panini grill until crisp and “melty”.

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