It’s hard to believe, but the way to say “be mine” used to be with cards and flowers. Then around the Civil War, the price of sugar dropped and candy makers, seeing a golden opportunity, practically reinvented the holiday.
Named after Saint Valentine of Rome and Saint Valentine of Termi, Valentine’s Day was turned into a multi-million dollar candy bonanza with tiny pastel colored sugar hearts printed with endearments and fancy chocolates in boxes covered in crushed velvet and decorated with flowers. Because we think there is no such thing as too much chocolate on Valentine’s Day, we head to the kitchen and whip up something deliciously rich and chocolaty to go along with the candy. That’s where Warm Bittersweet Chocolate Rum Torte comes in.
The torte, which has Valentine’s Day practically written in every mouthful, is easy enough to make. Like an airy souffle, it rises as it bakes and starts to fall almost as soon as it comes out of the oven. The dense, fudge-like cake, gently flavored with dark rum, is covered with a thin crust that cracks when the torte is cut. It’s very accommodating and can be served while still warm, at room temperature or after a night in the refrigerator. The torte is good with vanilla custard sauce, but when pressed for time, a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream works just fine. Lastly, saying it serves eight is may be a stretch. For chocolate lovers, four may be more like it.
By Greg Patent, a food writer in Missoula, Mont.