This is the first time I take part in a Wine Blogging Wednesday... not that I am not interested in wine, only because I consider food to be my forte, whereas the wine is really my husband's territory. But this time, I just couldn't resist. Clotilde entitled this edition of WBW (already in its 13th instalment) "Like wine for chocolate"... and since "Como agua para chocolate" by Laura Esquivel is one of my favourite Latin American novels (I wasn't too impressed by the movie, but that's another story) and since chocolate calls for sweet wines, which I adore, I just had to make an effort.
At first, my fondness of sweet wine and the fact that I am convinced that Austria produces the best sweet wines around, many superior to any Sauternes, Vin Santo etc you can find, made me frantically try to locate a good home-grown wine around here... but of course, I failed miserably. Austrian wine in general is produced in such minuscule quantities that the good representatives rarely get exported and when they do, the price is prohibitive. But to be honest, all patriotism (and people who know me can attest that I am the most unpatriotic person alive) aside, the best wines for chocolate are definitely made of red grapes! I had memories of Italian dessert wines which I found to be a good match, but then recalled buying a sweet Sherry from a German producer at the "Taste of London" last year.
It is a Piconera, a Pedro Ximenez grape, Solera 1941, of Bodegas las Urtas. Although we have a cupboard of beautiful mouth-blown Riedel glasses jam-packed with recipients for a large selection of different grapes, we don't have one for sweet sherries, so we tried the Vintage Port glass and the Sauternes glass. The latter won hands down - an intense nose of caramel, coffee and dark chocolate, as well as a hint of raisins, the taste full of dried fruits, prunes, figs and fresh red cherries in particular. The stickiness was amazing, it sort of clung to the glass as if it never wanted to part with it (but I won in the end), there was no acidity at all in this wine, at least not that I could detect, instead a perfect sweetness and aromas strong enough to match the intense taste of dark, top quality chocolate.
And since I am thepassionatecook, not thepassionatewineexpert, I couldn't resist coming up with a recipe for the occasion - Clotilde suggested a dark, moist chocolate cake much like my "moelleux au chocolat" and a simpler version I make just plain and topped with fresh raspberries, but I couldn't help trying out a chocolate soufflé. I decided to use the chestnut spread Clotilde had sent me on the occasion of Blogging by Mail last month (what a great discovery!) and made some ice cream to go with my soufflés. I have never made anything easier in my life, and I always thought icecream was such a hassle - this didn't need a machine, was perfectly soft after 8 hours in the freezer and it took all but 30 seconds to make it... people are often terrified to make soufflés, but this one is an absolute doddle and rose beautifully. It is also a perfect thing to make in advance for a dinner party or so, just place in the freezer and pop into the oven for a quarter of an hour - et voilà! Dessert has never been easier and certainly never more indulging!
Chocolate soufflés with chestnut icecream
200 g dark chocolate (I used a 70% Lindt)
4 eggs (separated)
130 g sugar
For the ice cream:
100 g chestnut spread (Clément Faugier)
2 tbsp mascarpone
A minimum of 2 hours in advance, mix the chestnut spread up with the mascarpone and place in the freezer.
Melt the chocolate in a bain marie (or a glass/ceramic bowl over water). Beat the egg whites until almost stiff, then incorporate 80 g of the sugar and beat until very stiff and glossy.
Beat the yols with the remaining sugar, then fold in the egg whites with a spatula until well combined. If not using immediately, place in the freezer.
Pre-heat the oven to 200 C, brush 4 ramekins (10 cm diameter) with butter. Fill with the chocolate mousse up to 1 com under the rim.
When ready to serve, place in the oven and bake for 12 minutes, or 14 if frozen. Serve immediately with a quenelle of chestnut icecream on top.