Have you planned your Valentine’s Day yet? Forget about going out, it’s much snugglier to stay in and have your own private menu. The most important part of the meal is, of course, the Valentine’s Dessert. It must be sensuous, it must be chocolate, and if you can make it pretty, you’ve got a winner.
It’s all about the Valentine’s Dessert
For my Valentine’s Dessert, I went with a deep dark chocolate mousse. 85% cacao chocolate, to be exact, although you can use your favorite. Just don’t use chocolate chips. They are formulated to keep their shape in a cookie, and don’t flow as well when you try to fold the melted chocolate into the mousse.
Then I simmered some aquafaba with raspberry and vanilla extracts, chilled it, and whipped it up. It takes longer to whip aquafaba than egg whites, so if you are accustomed to that process, just give it time. it takes about 16 minutes.
The Kataifi Nests
For this cute dessert, the only tricky part was making a trek to the Middle Eastern grocery for Kataifi pastry. It’s in the frozen food section at Holy Land at the Midtown Global Market, if you live in Minneapolis. Depending on whether it’s Greek or from the Middle East, it might be called Kunafa, Kunaifa, or some other spelling. It’s a form of filo dough that has the texture of fine rice noodles, and it’s actually really easy to use, as long as you just let it be kind of messy. Just drizzling it with some melted coconut oil or butter, fluffing it into nests, and sprinkling it with sugar is all you need to do.
Once the nests are baked, they keep for days, as long as you keep them in an airtight container. If you are a fan of syrup-soaked desserts, you can even dip them in syrup. I skipped that for the photo, but include instructions below.
This is a good one for a special night because all the components can be made ahead. Make the nests and mousse up to three days out, and you can assemble it at the last minute. Nothing requires any special skills, unless you consider folding to be a big challenge.
Then it’s up to you to garnish with some berries, drizzle with some chocolate sauce, and dig in. It’s a little messy, when the nests crumble into a pile of crunchy strands, but getting messy is part of the fun.
It’s all part of celebrating the “love holiday” and it wouldn’t be complete without a chocolate Valentine’s Dessert!
Crispy Nests of Raspberry Chocolate Mousse with Strawberries
- 1 pound kataifi or kunafa thawed
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil or butter
- 3 tablespoons turbinado sugar
- 3/4 cup aquafaba 1/2
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon raspberry extract
- 5 ounces dark chocolate
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 2 tablespoons organic sugar
- strawberries, raspberries, pomegranate seeds
- chocolate sauce
- 1/2 cup organic sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 teaspoon orange blossom water or rosewater
- Preheat the oven to 375 F. Lightly grease the 12 cups in a muffin tin and reserve. Put the pastry shreds in a large bowl and use your fingers to separate and fluff them. Drizzle with melted coconut oil or butter and toss to coat. Pull out a small handful and coil and roll it to place into the muffin tins. Shape into nests, make an indentation in the middle.
- Sprinkle the nests with turbinado sugar and bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool, loosen gently while still warm. Let cool completely, store in an airtight container.
- For Mousse, put the aquafaba in a small pot and bring it it to a boil, add the vanilla and raspberry extracts. Boil until reduced to 1/2 cup. If you get below 1/2 cup, add a little water to make 1/2 cup.
- Place the aquafaba in the refrigerator until completely cold. Put the cold aquafaba and cream of tartar in a stand mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, or a large bowl with an electric mixer. Melt the chocolate and let come to room temperature.
- Beat on high for 10 minutes, then sprinkle in 1 tablespoon sugar and beat for 3 minutes longer, then sprinkle in the remaining tablespoon and beat for 3 minutes longer.
- Fold the chocolate into the whipped aquafaba until smooth. Transfer to a storage tub and chill until cold and firm.
- To serve, place a nest on a small plate and dust with cocoa or powdered sugar. Scoop a small portion of mousse into the nest, then decorate with berries. If desired, drizzle with chocolate sauce.
- If making syrup, make it before baking the nests. Place the sugar and water in a small pot and place over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Stir for just a couple of minutes, until the sugar is dissolved. Chill until completely cold. When the nests come out of the oven, take each out of the pan and place on a rack over a baking pan. Drizzle the nests with syrup and let the excess drip into the pan. Let cool.