Just in time for Valentine’s Day, this Eating and Drinking Poems post from Kathryn Neel combines her trademark sense of history, ironic humor, and impeccable taste in food. For those of you still fretting over how to create a cozy evening with your love, this combination of poetry and chocolate is as perfect as a rose and a ribbon. For all of us chocolate lovers? This is daily life.
Valentine’s Day is upon us, and that means one thing: all thoughts turn to chocolate. Yes, flowers are lovely, but let’s be honest; it is really the chocolate that most of us are looking for.
Chocolate was not originally the sweet bars, bonbons, or bunnies we know today. It started out as a gritty, bitter brew reserved only for the highest levels of Aztec society. The Aztecs used Cacao (the plant and unprocessed beans) for currency, and even considered it to have magical properties. When the liquefied cacao was served to Hernando Cortes at a banquet, he described it as “a bitter drink for pigs.” It wasn’t until later, when mixed with sugar, that it caught on in Europe and began to resemble the chocolate we know today.
Today chocolate is more popular than ever, and serious studies have linked eating chocolate to positive health. Chocolate has scientifically been linked to alleviating depression, preventing heart attack, lowering blood pressure, promoting happiness and easing pain. Dark chocolate is a particular hero in these areas. So kick off your Valentine’s Day with a shared healthy choice that tastes amazing with whipped cream for a romantic evening.
If you have never attempted a soufflé before this is the perfect recipe to start with. It is fairly simple and straightforward, and will impress your guests or loved one. (Of course you should probably make a test batch, just to be on the safe side. After all, you wouldn’t want to feed your guests something noxious, right?)
I recommend reading Rita Dove’s poem, “Chocolate, ” while eating your soufflé in order to establish a very real, deep relationship between you and the chocolate of your choice—a relationship that will deepen and ripen with the passage of time, and the eating of more chocolate. Enjoy, and Happy Valentine’s Day!
Velvet fruit, exquisite square
I hold up to sniff
between finger and thumb—
how you numb me
with your rich attentions!
If I don’t eat you quickly,
you’ll melt in my palm.
Pleasure seeker, if I let you
you’d liquefy everywhere.
Knotted smoke, dark punch
of earth and night and leaf,
for a taste of you
any woman would gladly
crumble to ruin.
Enough chatter: I am ready
to fall in love!
Flourless Chocolate Soufflé
This is a wonderful and easy way to make a soufflé. I prefer to use 4 or 5 ounce individual ramekins.
7 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1/4 cup strong brewed coffee
4 TBSP unsalted butter, softened
4 egg yolks
8 egg whites
pinch of salt
1/4 cup sugar
1. Butter and sugar the ramekins, and set them on a jelly-roll pan.
2. Combine the chocolate with the coffee in a heat-proof bowl. Place bowl over a pan of hot water and allow the chocolate to melt, stirring occasionally. Stir smooth, then remove from the heat, and stir in the butter. Cool to room temperature.
3. Stir in the egg yolks.
4. Use an electric mixer to whip egg whites with salt until they hold a very light peak. Add sugar gradually, and continue to beat until whites form soft peaks.
5. Stir a quarter of the whites into the chocolate base. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the remaining whites.
6. Pour batter in buttered and sugared molds, filling molds to the top. Bake for approximately 12 to 15 minutes, or until the soufflés are well-risen and baked all the way through, except for the very center, which should remain soft and liquid. (Check one of the soufflés by taking the point of a spoon and using it to lift the top off on one side — it will fall right back into place.)
7. Serve immediately. Pass chocolate sauce or whipped cream, if you wish.
Enjoy these? We’ll happily deliver a fresh poem every weekday morning. Buy a year of Every Day Poems, just $5.99
- Eating and Drinking Poems: WendellBerry’s “Fall” - October 24, 2014
- Eating & Drinking Poems: Dorianne Laux’s “A Short History of the Apple” - September 12, 2014
- Eating and Drinking Poems: May Swenson’s “Strawberrying” - August 8, 2014