The Feast of Saint Valentine was established by Pope Gelasius I in AD 496 to be celebrated on February 14 in honour of Saint Valentine of Rome, who died on that date in AD 269. The day only became associated with love in the 14th and 15th centuries and by the 18th-century it had grown into an occasion in which couples expressed their love for each other by gifting flowers, confectionery and sending greeting cards.
Nowadays, Valentine’s Day presents include anything and everything, from a simple box of chocolates to cars, jewellery and even shares in a cricket team!
In 2009 UK-based businessman Raj Kundra gave then girlfriend Shilpa Shetty an 11.7 per cent stake in Rajasthan Royals, the first season champs of the Indian Premier League (IPL). Kundra spent $15.4 million acquiring the shares. In 2006, David Beckham bought Victoria Beckham a R120 million Bulgari necklace, covered in diamonds and rubies while in 2011, Katy Perry surprised Russell Brand with a lilac Bentley Brooksland that was reportedly worth $350 000. Cheap by comparison, Kanye West gifted his then pregnant girlfriend Kim Kardashian a $73,000 Cartier bracelet for Valentine’s Day 2013.
Whatever your budget for this Valentine’s Day, there’s one thing that is sure to impress a loved one and that is a homemade dish. So, don your apron and try these recipes courtesy of three chefs from Capsicum Culinary Studio as well as one from a Capsicum alumnus, who is now a successful pâtissier in Lisbon, Portugal.
Macarons with Butter Cream Frosting ~ Bernice Warner, Nelson Mandela Bay campus
1 large egg white
38g ground almonds
75g icing sugar
25g castor sugar
2ml vanilla essence
2ml red food colouring (optional)
Sift together the ground almonds and the icing sugar, then sift the combined mixture again, twice. Whisk the egg white until soft peaks form then slowly add the castor sugar forming a meringue of stiff peak. While whisking, add the desired food colouring and vanilla essence.
Once the mixture is ready gently fold in the ground almonds/icing sugar mixture. A slotted spoon is the best for this. Ladle the mixture into a piping bag and pipe the macarons in heart shapes on a baking tray that has been greased and lined with baking paper. Bake in a fan assisted oven at 150ºC for 10-15 minutes depending on size.
Allow the macarons to cool completely before filling.
Butter cream filling
50g white chocolate
250g sifted icing sugar
2ml vanilla essence
Drop of red food colouring
Melt chocolate and cream. Cream the butter and icing sugar together, add the chocolate mixture and vanilla essence. Whip until light and fluffy. Spoon a little onto the flat surface of a macaron, then place a second macaron on top to sandwich the filling. Serve as soon as possible as macarons do not keep for very long.
Red and White Croissants (makes 5-6) ~ Akhona Swazi, Cape Town campus
1 roll ready-made puff pastry
150g strawberries (cleaned, hulled and halved)
3 tsp castor sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
Lemon Scented Chantilly Cream
250ml whipping cream
4 tbsp icing sugar
1 tbsp lemon zest
Preheat oven to 190ºC. Roll out the puff pastry and cut into long triangular shapes
Once cut, roll in from the wide side to the small side (side with the tip). Place in the fridge to chill (30 mins), then bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and cool on a wire rack. In a separate bowl, mix the strawberries, sugar and juice and allow to macerate for about an hour. Whip cream with the sugar and fold in the lemon zest. Spoon the Chantilly cream into a piping bag.
To assemble: Cut a slit in the croissant, pipe in the Chantilly cream and top with the macerated strawberries and garnish with fresh mint and edible flowers.
Chocolate Mousse ~ Charne Wylie, Pretoria campus
125g dark chocolate, 70% cocoa
10g unsalted butter
35g castor sugar
Separate eggs and yolks while eggs are cold. Place whites in a large bowl and yolks in a small bowl. Leave whites while you prepare other ingredients. Whisk the yolks. Place the chocolate and butter in a bowl and melt in the microwave in 30 second bursts, stirring in between, until smooth. Set aside to cool. Beat the cream until stiff peaks form. Beat the egg whites and slowly add the sugar while continuing to beat until firm peaks form. Fold the egg yolks into the cream using a rubber spatula. Pour the lukewarm chocolate into the cream yolk mixture and fold through. Add ¼ of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture and fold through until incorporated. Next, pour the chocolate mixture into the egg whites and fold through until incorporated and no more white lumps remain. Divide the mixture between 2 glasses or pots and refrigerate for at least five hours, preferably overnight.
To serve, garnish with blueberries, strawberries or raspberries and a tiny sprig of mint for colour.
Mahalabia ~ courtesy Hendrik Pretorius, Capsicum Pretoria campus alumnus
(Legend has it that Mahalania was introduced into Arab cuisine in the late seventh century by a cook from Persia, who served it to an Arab general by the name of Al-Muhallab ibn Abi Sufra who liked it so much, he named it after himself.)
80g cornstarch or white rice flour
25ml rose water or orange extract
50g pistachio nuts, roasted and crushed
Warm the milk and sugar in a heavy based saucepan over a medium heat stirring occasionally. Place the cornstarch or white rice flour into a separate bowl, pour in 50ml of the warm milk/sugar mixture and whisk until smooth, then pour mixture back into the into the pot with the sugar and milk and stirring continuously over a medium-low heat. Cook until the mixture thickens and resembles a custard (15 – 20 minutes) then remove from the heat and add the rose water or orange extract. Next, pour the mixture into pretty serving dishes, glasses or cups and place in the refrigerator to set for at least 3 hours. Before serving, sprinkle the crushed pistachio nuts on top along with a dash of rose water or orange extract (whichever one you are using). If you want to make this dessert in advance and keep the Mahalabia overnight, cover the dishes with clingfilm to prevent the surface from becoming too dry or absorbing any fridge smells.
Tip: To avoid burning the bottom of the Mahalabia use a heavy based saucepan and cook over a medium to low heat only.