This time of the year is all about love. It is Valentine’s Day!
Do we celebrate Valentine’s Day? With roses and dinners and candlelight? No not really in the mushy kind of way. It is more of a celebration through the years - a feeling that remains steady every moment of every single day between the two hearts that got entwined many years back.
I had come across this quote by Jalal ad-Din Rumi some time back -”The minute I heard my first love story I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was. Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.” So true; for when I had met A for the first time, it was as if we had known one another from another time. The connection was made right away and we have never looked back.
We have known one another for more than 18 years years now; I was only 18 when we first met. The first Valentine’s day was vibrant and the usual, with hallmark cards, chocolates, and flowers. Think like a teenager! Well, sweet memories.. all of these put a big smile in my heart. Valentine’s Day now is quietly commemorating all that we have between us and what we are for each other, about spending a day to share the fondest moments among the four of us. The laughter and the tight cuddles, seeing the dreams in the eyes of the children, the innocent remarks and their thoughts are all priceless and worth celebrating every single day.
My two girls are excitedly waiting for the Valentine’s Day. You might ask why? They are waiting to surprise us with the cards and crafts they have been making for us for the past few weeks! One entire day was spent with my little one, making cards for her friends in her preschool and wrapping candies. Stickers, hearts, crayons, ribbons and lots of patience and hard work went in making them special.
Today I decided on a dessert with all our favorite ingredients – cream, mascarpone, chocolate, strawberries (drenched in amaretto and orange liqueur for A and me) and hazelnuts.
Here is a special treat dearly loved by all of us. Few layers come together in one spot; for us to scoop out the deliciousness in our own little cups.
We all love a perfectly indulgent, dreamy, creamy parfait!
Amaretto Strawberry, Hazelnut and Mascarpone Cream Parfait
Ingredients:(makes about 6-8 individual mini dessert cups)
- 12-15 fresh strawberry, washed, hulled and sliced
- 1 tablespoon amaretto + 1 tablespoon amaretto
- 1/2 tablespoon orange liqueur (Cointreau)
- 6 oz mascarpone cheese
- 175 ml heavy whipping cream, chilled
- zest of half an orange
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/3 lightly toasted and chopped hazelnut (may be substituted with any nut)
- 1/3 cup finely chopped chocolate (I used Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate)
- 4-5 confectioners’ sugar + 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
Note: Use orange juice and almond extract, instead of orange liqueur and amaretto, to make it child friendly.
Combine the strawberry slices, 1 tablespoon sugar with the amaretto and orange liqueur (or juice and almond extract) and let the berries macerate for about an hour, but no longer than 2 hours.
Beat the cream and 4-5 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar till it forms soft peaks. Gently fold in the zest and the amaretto in to the cream. Whisk the mascarpone for a couple of minutes and then fold in the cream and the mascarpone together.
[It is very important that you mix the orange zest into the whipped cream and add that mixture to the mascarpone cheese. Adding the zest directly to the mascarpone, will turn grainy].
[Adjust the sugar as per your taste; the cream and the cheese mix should be just sweet].
Combine chopped/flaked nuts, chopped chocolate and confectioners’ sugar in a bowl.
In small parfait cups/dessert cups/wine or martini glasses, spoon in some cream& mascarpone cheese mixture. Sprinkle the choco-nut mix. Next goes the macerated liqueur soaked strawberry slices. Add another layer of cream and cheese, followed by choco-nut mix then and strawberries. Create as many layers as your dessert cup will allow you.
Top with cream, a slice of strawberry and a sprinkle of choco-nut. Serve chilled.
In little individual cups.
Happy Valentine’s Day!