I've got a plan: this Valentine's Day, I'm going to go through all the mailboxes in my building, grab the unwanted ads and flyers, and stuff them into a pink bag.
Then, I'll bring the bag up to my apartment, open a bag of candy, and pretend like every single flyer is a neon pink Lisa Frank valentine with a scratch and sniff heart. No really, look: I can assure you that this isn't a coupon for ten percent off the locksmith. No way. This valentine has a purple unicorn on it.
And that one, the one that looks like it's advertising new opening hours for the grocery store? That one is the best: it's pink, with a skater girl on it, and graffiti writing that says "U R DA BOMB".
Am I stuck in 1995? Maybe. Truth is, those days when you came home with bags filled to the brim with bad candy and ugly valentines (except the homemade ones, you know, like mine) were pretty nice. When I think back, I remember that I would throw out the store-bought valentines and only keep my favorite--kind of harsh, isn't it?
You may not be ten years old anymore, but today's the day to let someone know that they're the bomb. Show them, quite literally: bake a chocolate bombe. Nothing explosive here, save the flavor explosion you'll get in your mouth from the strong, bittersweet chocolate.
A bombe is easier to bake than it may seem; it's only chocolate génoise, chocolate mousse, and a chocolate ganache frosting. For the génoise and glaze, I used the America's Test Kitchen recipe and tweaked it a little. The génoise unfortunately dries up pretty fast, even with the mousse, so this dessert is best eaten the day of or the next day.
By that, I mean please don't stuff it in your pink valentine bag. It will indeed weigh more that a few paper valentines, but keep it on the table. Your Valentine's Day will be une bombe, whether you're spending it with a friend, loved one, or a warm cup of tea.
Joyeuse Saint Valentin!
for chocolate génoise (adapted from America's Test Kitchen):
1/8 c. Dutch-processed cocoa powder
6 TB all-purpose flour
1/2 TS baking powder
pinch of salt
3 eggs, room temperature
6 TB granulated sugar
1/2 TS vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C.
Grease a large baking sheet and line with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together cocoa, flour, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, whip eggs on medium-high speed with a handheld or stand mixer and add sugar gradually. Whip until thickened, about three minutes, and add vanilla extract.
Sift flour mixture over eggs and fold in until just incorporated. Spread batter on baking sheet in an even layer and bake approximately 15 minutes (check a few minutes before) until cake springs back to the touch.
remove from oven and immediately flip cake out onto another sheet of parchment paper. Peel top layer off and let cool.
Shape the bombe: line a medium bowl with plastic wrap.
Slice génoise into strips and line bowl with cake strips placed side by side until the surface is covered, hiding any holes with bits of cake as needed.
Save remaining strips of génoise to top the mousse mixture.
for chocolate mousse:
7 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet baking chocolate, chopped
6 eggs, separated
Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Remove from heat, let cool, and whisk in egg yolks.
In a large bowl, whip egg whites to stiff peaks. Mix in one fifth of egg whites with chocolate, and delicately fold in chocolate into the bowl with egg whites.
Pour immediately into chocolate génoise "shell".
Top with remaining strips of génoise until well covered. Wrap bowl in plastic wrap and refrigerate until mousse sets, at least three hours.
for chocolate glaze (adapted from America's Test Kitchen):
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 TB + 2 TS heavy cream
1 TB light corn syrup (I used maple syrup)
a few drops of vanilla extract
Remove cake from refrigerator, peel off plastic wrap, and unmold cake onto a wire rack placed over a plate or sink.
Whisk all ingredients together in a double boiler until smooth. Pour over cake and spread to cover the entire surface.
Refrigerate until cake has set, about 30 minutes. Remove from refrigerator about 20-30 minutes before serving.