Somehow, Mardi Gras snuck up on me this year. It seems like just a minute ago it was New Year’s, and now all of a sudden Fat Tuesday is here. And Valentine’s Day follows closely on its heels.
This is one food-filled week.
The appearance of Valentine’s Day at the beginning of Lent is a bit troublesome if you’re one of those people who wants to take your sweetie out for a big fancy dinner, but you also enjoy the annual 40-day sacrifice of something (meat, caffeine, sugar, whatever) that has become a tradition surpassing just Catholics. Skip that conundrum and celebrate V-Day with your honey early. Like Monday, or Tuesday. Cause on Wednesday it’s all 40-days-of-sacrifice until our early Easter hits at the end of March.
Since I’m 8-months pregnant for Lent this year, I’m going to just continue my 40-week fast of alcohol. Take about an easy way out.
If you aren’t in the same state as me, let me suggest these recipes from McCaltchy-Tribune. They are decadent and boozy — a perfect mix for both Fat Tuesday and Valentine’s Day.
Chambord Black Raspberry Brownies
1 box Devil’s Food cake mix
2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup oil
¼ cup water
¼ cup Chambord
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
¼ cup confectioner’s sugar (optional)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking pan with nonstick foil. Combine cake mix, eggs, oil, water, and Chambord. Fold in semi-sweet chocolate chips. Pour into prepared baking pan and smooth. Bake 35-40 minutes. Cool to room temperature before cutting. Dust with confectioner’s sugar (optional) and slice brownies into 3-inch squares. Top with ice cream and 3 to 4 ounces of Chambord.
Grand Mariner Creme Brulee
Makes 5 ramekins
5 ounces milk
5 ounce whipping cream
1 vanilla bean
Zest of 1 orange
¾ ounce Grand Marnier
1 ½ ounce sugar
5 egg yolks
5 ounces brown sugar
Finely grate the orange zest and let it macerate in the Grand Marnier for an hour. Bring the milk and cream to a boil. Add the vanilla bean, the Grand Marnier-macerated orange zest mixture, and the sugar and let infuse for an hour. Strain to remove the vanilla bean and the orange zest. Add the egg yolks, mixing gently so that the mixture does not froth.
Pour into ramekins and cook in the oven following two possible methods:
At 230 F in a traditional oven (heated from both top and bottom) in a double boiler for approximately 50 minutes; or at 175 F in a convection or forced convection oven without the double boiler (more difficult) for approximately 30 minutes.
The crème brulee is cooked when it is set in the middle and “trembles” when the ramekin is tapped.
Remove the cremes brulees from the oven and allow to cool. Place them in the refrigerator.
Just before serving, sprinkle with a thin layer of brown sugar and caramelize with a blow torch or under the broiler (more difficult).
If the custard cooks too quickly it will be slightly granular, not creamy as it should be. If moisture has formed on the surface of the crème brulee when it is taken from the refrigerator, soak it up with some paper towels before sprinkling with sugar. Serve with a snifter of Grand Marnier or Grand Marnier Louis-Alexandre.