Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? We don’t. Not really. I’ve never been a flowers and chocolates and teddy bears with hearts kinda girl. But I do love love, and Lance and I are romantic just in general, so I’m all for people taking the opportunity to tell that special someone that you love them. Lance and I are actually going to a comedy show for the Fringe Festival on Valentine’s Day. But we’ll have a nice dinner beforehand. Not sure what yet. All I know is that this is our Valentine’s Day dessert. It’s a little different, a little quirky and is most importantly, a little bit lighter and not too sweet in this summer heat! As an added bonus the components are made early(ish) with chilling time, or can be made a day or so in advance and assembled before serving, making it great for dinner parties. Or romantic dinners, where less cooking time means more couple time!
I am a huge fan of sangria. And buttermilk. And nuts. So this dessert is a combination of all of those things. Luckily, Lance is too – so it can feel like I’ve made it for him. Each element here has a small level of sweetness, which combine for a lovely dessert with a fun play on textures – without overwhelming you with sweetness. The buttermilk pudding is smooth and creamy, the sangria jelly has a little chew – not quite jube, but a bit denser than a normal jelly. Add the crunch of the nut wafers and you’ve got a party going. They, by the way, are the easiest crackers to make. And so delicious!
The jelly and wafers make more than you need for the buttermilk pudding portion, but the crackers in particular are so moreish that you won’t find a problem eating the rest of those by themselves! But they both make the best addition to a cheese platter. And I might’ve had some of the jelly with my breakfast granola. And it might’ve been absolutely delicious!
500mL dry red wine (such as Cab Sauv, or Shiraz)
50 gm caster sugar
8 gelatin leaves
Juice and peel of one orange (peeled in large strips)
Juice and peel of one lemon (peeled in large strips)
2 bay leaves
2 cardamom pods
1 stick cinnamon
Lightly oil a shallow rectangular dish that can will hold 500mL and set aside until required. In a medium pot, bring red wine, sugar, citrus juice and peel, and spices to a simmer and stir to dissolve sugar. Set aside for the flavours to infuse for an hour. Strain through a fine sieve into a clean pot and bring back to a simmer. Place the gelatin into a bowl of cold water and leave to soften. When the wine mixture comes to a simmer, squeeze excess water from the gelatin and gently drop into the wine. Stir to dissolve the gelatin then set aside for 15 minutes to cool slightly.
Gently pour the jelly into the prepared container and refrigerate until set – around half an hour. When ready to serve, turn out of container, and cut into small cubes.
(makes 4 serves)
1tsp vanilla bean paste
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 tablespoons corn flour
Combine the vanilla bean, cinnamon and buttermilk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until mixture is almost at a simmer. You want it to come to temperature very slowly, so the buttermilk doesn’t separate. It’s much more temperamental when heating than normal milk.
Whisk egg yolks, caster sugar and corn flour in a bowl. Slowly pour the milk into the egg mix whilst whisking. Once it’s all combined, pour into a clean saucepan and put back over medium heat. Cook, stirring, for 4-5 minutes or until mixture thickens. Strain through a fine sieve into a container with a spout, then pour into your desired serving vessels. Tap onto the counter to get rid of air bubbles. Wrap with cling film and pop in the fridge to chill and set, at least an hour.
Hazelnut and Almond Wafers
¾ cup almonds
¾ cup hazelnuts
3 heaped tablespoons brown sugar
Zest of one orange
¼ tsp ground cardamom
2 egg whites
Preheat oven to 180C
Put the almonds and hazelnuts into the bowl of your food processor and pulse until broken up into tiny pieces. You want mainly ‘meal’ texture, but a few bits a little larger is fine. Add the brown sugar, cardamom and orange zest, and pulse to mix. Add the egg whites and pulse until it comes together in a ball. It’ll be fairly sticky.
Lay out a piece of baking paper the size of your baking tray, put the ball of dough on it, then place another piece of baking paper over the top. Roll the dough out evenly, and thinly (around 2mm) to spread across the size of your whole baking tray. Carefully peel off the top layer and put in the oven.
After about 10 minutes, it will have dried fairly considerably and will have turned paler in colour. Remove from the oven and cut into squares/rectangles with a pizza cutter or sharp knife (pizza cutter is a much easier and neater way of doing it). Place back in the oven for another 10-12 minutes or so until golden. The pieces will have shrunk away from each other and formed individual wafers. Watch them carefully this second time as they can burn easily.
Assemble the three components however you artistically like!