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updated 1/27/2005 12:00:10 PM ET 2005-01-27T17:00:10

Valentine's Day is right around the corner, and what better way to woo that special someone than with some aphrodisiac sweets and treats. Charlie Palmer of Aureole restaurant in New York shares desert recipes that are sure to make you a successful cupid in the kitchen.

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Quince (Love Apple) Tart Tatin
Serves 6

Ingredients
4 cups white wine
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
4 stems fresh basil
1 tsp black peppercorns
4 Quince
1 cup sugar
Water (as needed)
3 tbsp butter
1 puff pastry round, cut 9” diameter

Directions
Add the white wine, sugar, basil, peppercorns, orange zest, and cloves to a large enough pot to accommodate all of the ingredients and the quince.  Bring the liquid to a simmer.

Peel the quince and add to the pot, place a plate atop to keep them submerged.  Poach the quince for 30 minutes, and then allow them to cool in their poaching liquid.

Remove the quince from their liquid and cut into sixths and remove the core, set aside.  Strain the poaching liquid and reserve for the next batch.

Pre-heat oven to 400°.

In medium sauté pan (9”), add the sugar, mix with just enough water to form a wet sand consistency and then place over a medium fire.  When the caramel has reached a deep golden color, remove from the fire and whisk in the butter.  Carefully lay the slices of quince into the caramel, slightly overlapping each one so that base of the pan is no longer visible.

Place the puff pastry over the quince and then set the entire pan in the over.  After approximately 10 minutes, the puff pastry will have puffed and become slightly golden around the edges.  Reduce the temperature of the oven to 300 degrees and cook for an additional 15-18 minutes, or until the puff pastry is well colored and cooked through.

Remove the tart from the oven and let sit for at least 5 minutes, or until ready to serve.  If the tart is prepared well in advance of serving, warm the bottom over low heat and then place in a low oven to re-heat before turning out.

Place an inverted plate atop the tart and carefully but quickly flip the entire pan over to turn out the tart onto the plate. 

Cut into wedges and serve with your favorite ice cream.

Fig & Ginger Bread Pudding with Fresh Vanilla Cream

Serves 6

Ingredients
1 loaf rusty, day old bread, torn into chunks
1 oz ginger, peeled and grated
1/2 pound dried figs
3 cups port
8 eggs
3 cups cream
1 cup milk
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp butter

Garnishes
2 cups whipping cream
1/2 pod vanilla, scraped
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup syrup, such as fig
6 fresh figs, washed and quartered

Directions
Lay out the chunks of bread on a cookie sheet and lightly toast under a broiler and then remove from the oven to dry for 20 minutes.

Add the ginger and dried figs to a saucepot and cover with the port.  Bring to a simmer and then remove from the fire. Cover with plastic film and let stand for 30 minutes, or until the figs have absorbed most of the liquid. Slice the figs into quarters and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whip together the eggs, cream, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and salt.

Add the chunks of dried bread to the bowl and mix through.  Fold in the poached figs and cover with plastic film.  Let sit for 20 minutes to ensure all of the liquid has soaked into the bread.

Pre-heat oven to 325°.

Use some of the butter to grease a shallow baking dish and set aside. Press the bread mixture into a buttered baking dish and dot the top with the remaining butter.

Wrap the top of the baking dish with aluminum foil and place in the oven.  Bake for 45 minutes or until the pudding has set.

While the pudding is baking, whip the cream to medium stiff peaks with the vanilla and sugar.

Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.  Serve the pudding with the freshly whipped vanilla cream, fresh figs, and a drizzle of your favorite syrup.

Note

This is an extremely versatile recipe; try experimenting with different fruits, adding your favorite toasted nuts, and different flavored and spiced breads.

Almond and Bittersweet Chocolate Fondue
Serves 6

Ingredients
10 oz bittersweet chocolate (60%)
3 tbsp cocoa powder, sifted
1 tbsp. butter
1/2 cup amaretto
3/4 cup heavy cream, warm
3/4 cup milk, warm
1 cup sugar

Garnishes
Toasted chinks of nut breads
Pound cake, cut into medium sized cubes
Banana, sliced
Candied ginger or citrus fruits
Strawberries
Marshmallows

Directions
Place the chopped bittersweet chocolate into a bowl and sift the coco powder over.  Add the butter to the bowl and melt all together over a double boiler.

Heat the milk, cream, amaretto, and sugar together in a small pot.  Bring to a simmer and then remove from the fire, stir to make sure all of the sugar has dissolved.

Whisk the cream mixture into the melted chocolate and then transfer to a fondue pot.

Serve with garnishes.

Recipes courtesy of Charlie Palmer.

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