Will you be my Valentine?

Wait, I started my Valentine's series off all wrong. Do you even know what Valentine's Day IS? Well, I didn't. So I went to find out! Well, for as far as you can for a holiday of which no one knows how it started.

Just like ever other holiday, Saint Valentine's Day is a mix of different traditions who throughout the years have merged together into one celebration. For this reason you'll find Valentine's Day, or a variation of it around the same time, all over the world. Valentine's probably started off as a pagan celebration of spring, love and fertility (possibly more or less of that). Later this feast was merged with the date of death of the Christian Saint Valentine. Valentine signed a letter "From your Valentine" (something about a jailors daughter, or wife, or his caretaker and something about saving people or murdering people and dying or being executed. According to the internet Valentine was as noble as he was cruel and must have reincarnated several times to live up to all the stories we tell about him). Anyway, that letter supposedly turned into a tradition. The roman god of love entered the story in the shape of Cherubs somewhere before or after. Roses entered the story in the era of poetry and Knights who wanted to celebrate the beauty of their maidens.

We're still missing chocolate in this whole story. Chocolate wasn't a Valentine's tradition until much later: somewhere mid to late 1800's in the UK. One of the stories goes that Mr. Cadburry himself added chocolate to the courting festival as a great oppurtunity to sell more of his chocolates by putting them into heart-shaped boxes. Other less heart-warming stories tell of chocolate simply being linked to Valentines because of it's aphrodiastic nature.

Well, that's enough history lessons for 1 post. Most of it is very unlikely to be true anyway (kind of a sad notion now you've read it all). But look on the bright side: you've reached the recipe! It contains chocolate and it's easy and quick to make. That's got to make up for it right?

Chocolate lava cakes
2 servings - Desserts by Parragon Books

50 grams butter
50 grams dark chocolate *
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
50 grams (light-brown or raw) sugar
1 tablespoon flour

1. Melt the butter in a pan on low heat. Add the chocolate and stir until smooth. Take off the heat and leave to cool slightly.
2. Turn the oven on to 200 degrees Celsius or 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter two creme brulee pots or line a cupcake tin.
3. Whisk the egg with the vanilla, sugar and flour together. Add the chocolate-butter and stir everything together until smooth. Pour into the prepared pots/tins.
4. Once the oven has preheated, bake the chocolate lava cakes for 10-15 minutes. Bake the cakes longer according to the thickness of your pots/tins (10 minutes for a cupcake tin, around 15 minutes for my stone pots). You want to underbake these rather than overbake!
5. Serve warm with ice-cream, fresh fruits and/or whipped cream.

* You can substitute this for your favourite chocolate, like a lemon chilli dark chocolate bar or maple-bacon milk chocolate bar or anything that is less odd.

I'm going to say it again: don't overbake these! If you overbake them they will turn into dry cake, but if you underbake them you will have a lovely chocolate sauce. Your pick of course.

For those of you who are confused: chocolate lava cake is also called chocolate fondant. There are two different methodes to making these cakes, so perhaps that is where the difference in name has come from. Personally I think chocolate lava cake makes much more sense. You'll see why once you bake these cakes and cut into the middle.

That was it for today's Valentine's idea! More chocolate coming up tomorrow!