Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Local Cook

I just bet you want to put on a spiffy event for Valentine's Day without any fuss. Be adventurous as you can’t go wrong with chocolate and coffee but keep it focused on just dessert and offer sinful little bites! Our carefree menu looks gorgeous with some of those opulent roses from Homestead Gardens.

  • Clementine Chocolate Coffee
  • Snow Cone Hot Chocolate with Marshmallows
  • Chocolate Coffee Decadence
  • Demitasse Fudge Minis
  • Truffle Extravaganza
A Snow Cone Hot Chocolate Kit supplies all you need to make the tantalizing cozy beverage. Marshmallows, chunks of milk and white chocolate, along with the cocoa mix come piled in clever packaging resembling an ice cream cone.


    Eco-Reef Coffee is the newest member of the local Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company family offered by Homestead Gardens and served at their coffee bar. The Eco Reef blend is a mixture of Central and South American beans accented with hearty Indonesians and roasted in small batches to a medium darkness which allows the fruitiness of the beans to shine. The company policy is to honor FairTrade, organic practices, Wind Energy and impacting the health of the Chesapeake Bay by way of donating a portion of the proceeds.

The Eco Reef shines when blended with chocolate and orange liqueur to make a festive warm drink.

Clementine Chocolate Coffee

Serves 2

  • 1 cup prepared strong coffee
  • 3/4 cup prepared hot chocolate
  • 1/4 cup clementine (homemade), tangerine or orange liqueur
  • 2 slices of clementine
  • Whipped cream
  • Dash of cinnamon

Combine prepared coffee, hot chocolate and liqueur in a pitcher.

Put one clementine slice in each cup and top with the coffee mixture.

Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

3-Way Ganâche

Nothing beats the decadent, indulgent taste and texture of chocolate ganâche although many folks most aren’t familiar with the term.  Made of pure chocolate and heavy cream, ganâche is a chocolate lovers best friend.  Its versatility as a slick shiny glaze, decorative piping, and fluffy whipped chocolate answers the need for glaze, pudding, truffle, frosting, and filling.

First we’ll use the whipped ganâche for the pudding so rich you only need a small tasting cup. It’s topped with crunchy petite meringues.

If you plan to serve a few people with our menu, you may want to double the ganâche recipe. It stores beautifully in the refrigerator for at least 2 weeks and can be softened for other uses.

For the ganâche:

  • 8 ounces heavy cream
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a saucepan, heat the heavy cream until just under boiling. Add the chopped chocolate to a small mixing bowl and cover with the hot cream, let stand for 3 minutes and then stir vigorously. Fold in the butter and vanilla. The ganâche will be thick, dark and shiny. Chill.

Remove the ganâche from the refrigerator and divide in three parts.

For the Demitasse Fudge Minis

Spread one part of the divided ganâche on top of each mini muffin.

For the Truffle Extravaganza

Put one part of the ganâche in a small bowl and chill. When cold, scoop out tiny balls with a greased spoon. Add 1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa to a 1 quart zipper baggie. Add each truffle and shake lightly to coat. Carefully place on serving plate.

For the Chocolate Coffee Decadence:

Put one part into a medium mixing bowl. Add a dash of coffee liqueur and with a beater whip on high speed until lighter in color and fluffy. It will more than double in volume. Spoon into tiny cups and top with petite meringues.


Demitasse Fudge Minis (Chocolate Beet Muffins)

Makes 24 mini muffins

Surprise we actually snuck in a vegetable here, but no one will know! The beets add moisture to the cake much like carrots or pumpkin in a cake. The demitasse is a small cup (the name comes from the French for "half cup"), used to serve Turkish coffee or espresso. I actually baked the mini muffins right in the greased espresso cups for a special presentation.

  • 2 medium beets (enough to make 1 cup  purée)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing the muffin tin
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup beet juice or warm water
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Make the beet purée:

Boil the beets for about 1 hour or peel/trim them and bake them in aluminum foil with a little dab of butter for about 1 hour. Once the beets are very soft and cooled a bit, mash them with a potato masher or a food processor. Save the beet water for the batter.

Preheat the oven to 325F.

In a medium bowl, combine the melted butter, sugar, eggs and water, and mix until smooth.

Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt together into a bowl. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the butter/egg mixture. When it is smooth, fold in the beet purée.

Spoon the batter into a prepared mini muffin tin or espresso cups. Bake for about 18-22 minutes. Don’t overcook! You want the muffins light but still moist. Let rest 5 minutes and then remove from muffin tin. When cool, spread with a small amount of shiny ganâche from the recipe above.



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