Most people agree that the finest chocolate in the world comes from Belgium. There is a shop in my town that claims it comes from Venezuela, but I have made a deep study of the issue and have even managed to pinpoint the town and even the shop that has the FINEST CHOCOLATE EVER. It’s Chocolatier Dumon in Bruges or, as they say in Flemish, Brugge.
One of the chief pleasures of eating chocolate is that, to truly appreciate it, you go sloooowly, savoring the moment. And the sweetness of chocolate reminds you of other sweet moments in life.
Here’s a trip down memory lane. The most memorable Valentines Day card I ever received during my teaching days came years ago, when I was a fifth-grade teacher. I had a student whose name was Melvin, and he was what was politely known as a “challenging” child. I like to think a lot of his issues stemmed from his natural exuberance. No matter how much trouble he got into, Melvin always had that special joie de vivre that made him so much fun, even when he was disrupting the other twenty kids in the class.
One of Melvin’s biggest challenges was sitting still long enough to actually write words on paper. He wasn’t very good at it. His penmanship was awful, his spelling worse, his grammar and syntax quite…caveman-like. But he never lost heart, and one Valentine’s Day, he spent the entire morning diligently working on something secret involving a full-size posterboard and those colored fat markers that smell like fruit.
At the end of the day, when it was time for the big valentine exchange and chocolate fest, Melvin proudly presented me with the biggest card I’d ever seen. It was about 2 feet tall, 100% homemade, reeking of fruit-scented markers. Inside was a giant heart with two eyes and a huge, smiling mouth full of teeth, and the inscription, “Mrs Wiggs – HAPPY VD” and it was signed, Love, Melvin. It’s the only time anyone’s ever wished me Happy VD, so I’ll always remember that.
Finally, here is something to make your Valentine’s Day rich and delicious. I found this in the magazine discard pile at the public library. It’s from something called “The Week.”
Individual Chocolate Souffle Cakes
2 Tbsp soft unsalted butter
6 oz bittersweet chocolate (use good quality brand with a high percentage of cocoa solids)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup flour
Place a cookie sheet in the oven and preheat oven to 400. Spray 3 small custard cups with Pam. Melt the chocolate in the microwave or in a double boiler. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one by one with a pinch of salt, and add the vanilla. Then blend in chocolate. Pour into custard cups, place the cups on the hot baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, until the tops are firm and dry. Invert each cup on a serving plate and dust with confectioner’s sugar. If you’re feeling creative, use raspberry coulis to draw a heart around the edge of the plate. Susan Wiggs’s latest release is a deluxe edition of LAKESIDE COTTAGE, winner of the RITA Award. It’s available in print, audio and digital formats where ever books are sold. Visit her web site at www.susanwiggs.com and join the conversation at www.facebook.com/susanwiggs