Made with love (+recipes)

By Amanda Laird

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Photo / Babiche Martens
Photo / Babiche Martens

Whether you are a hopeless romantic or a grumbling cynic the Hallmark day of all days is hovering around the corner.

Valentine's Day provides an excuse (if one is needed) for beautiful flowers, a thoughtfully prepared dinner for two or a starry-eyed walk on the beach ... Or you could do as I do and throw romance out the window and focus on the food. It's a day to indulge in divine sweet pleasures.

Today we have beautiful tarts - short buttery pastry filled with creamy custard and topped with gently poached rhubarb and the last of the summer's strawberries. No shortcuts - make your own pastry and custard to heighten the pleasure. It tastes better and any leftover pastry is always handy to have in the freezer.

Making marshmallow is pretty simple, tastes creamy and is delicious, not to mention being ever so slightly impressive. Dropping in fresh blackberries looks gorgeous and provides a slight tart tang to offset the sweetness.

Raspberries and blueberries would also work well. The recipe makes a tray full so there is plenty left over to nibble at during the day, before dessert!

Panna cotta - ubiquitous on restaurant menus but rightly so if it is made well - is a lovely dessert to serve at home and does feel a bit special, all soft and gently wobbling, scented with vanilla and paired with blood red tart plums infused with star anise.

Choose one or all three and enjoy the delights of sweet treats with a loved one this Valentine's Day.

Chef's tip

Don't substitute frozen berries for fresh in the marshmallow recipe - the water content may interfere with the gelatine setting. Dip the cutter into hot water before using to slice through the marshmallow easily.

- NZ Herald

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