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February- Valentine’s Day- Chocolate!

   Say “February” and the mind goes right to Valentine’s Day.  Say “Valentine’s Day” and my mind goes right to Chocolate, Chocolate, Choc-o-late!  In fact, I’ve been dreaming in chocolate since the December issue of Madison Magazine arrived with that fantastic looking chocolate cake from the Baking/Pastry Arts program at MATC almost jumping off the cover.

   If you love chocolate too,  there are lots of wonderful ways to indulge in Madison.  Let’s explore (and I do mean that literally!) a few.

  Many folks like to begin or end the day with a steaming cup of hot chocolate.  Swing by Penzey’s on University Avanue and pick up a bag or two of their hot chocolate mix.  Just a spoonful in a cup of warmed milk is heavenly.  Add a bit of softly whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon to the top and it becomes devine.

  If chocolate truffles are in your dreams, stop by Gail Ambrosius Chocolatier on Atwood Avenue and first just stop and smell the chocolate.  Then scoot on over in front of the display case and just admire the artistry.  Ask lots of questions.  They love to talk about their chocolates.  Finally, make your selections.  Plan on one per day for a week.  That should get you through the first hour after you open the box.  You will fall in love with those chocolates.

  There are several other fine chocolatiers in the Madison area.  Wouldn’t it be fun to make a day of sampling the wares from all of them?  Be sure to invite me to come along.

  If you like your chocolate in more of a cake form try the chocolate cupcakes from the Daisy Cafe and Cupcakery just down the street from Gail Ambrosius.  These innocent looking little cakes are topped with the most delicious frostings.  They are light and not overly sweet and made with all natural ingredients like butter and fresh fruit.  Oh, my.

At the Speckled Hen Inn, in the month of February, we will include something chocolate in every breakfast.  One of our guests’ favorite chocolate breakfast deserts (of course we serve desert at breakfast) is Mexican Chocolate Pots de Creme served warm with whipped cream.  Come enjoy it at the Inn or prepare it for your sweetheart for Valentine’s Day.

Mexican Chocolate Pots de Creme from The Speckled Hen Inn

Place 3 egg yolks in a medium saucepan.  Whisk in 1/4 cup of sugar until yolks lighten.  Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla, 1 cup of whipping cream, and 2 disks of Ibara Mexican chocolate finely chopped.  Cook over medium- low heat until the chocolate melts and the mixture begins to thicken, whisking constantly.  Set the chocolate mixture aside to cool slightly.  With an electric mixer beat another 1 cup of whipping cream until soft peaks form.  Gently fold the chocolate mixture into the whipped cream.  Pour into pots de creme cups or small ramekins.  We serve them warm topped with more whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar.  Serves 8.  The pots may also be chilled and served later.

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