For Valentine’s Day I wanted to make something special. Fortunately, I have my handy collection of booklets from the Culinary Arts Institute. There is specifically a book for holiday cooking:
Within it are recipes for the most common holidays, including Valentine’s Day! I excitedly opened to the St. Valentine’s Day section and the first recipe was…Elegant Chicken Loaf. What? Was this ever a thing? What’s so romantic about a chicken loaf? I can find very little evidence for this ever being a traditional Valentine’s Day dinner item, so I would be curious to see why on earth this was included in this section.
The Strawberry Bavarian Cream seemed, err, more appropriate for the occasion.
The recipe is as follows (the bold text is the publisher’s):
Strawberry Bavarian Cream
Set out a 1½ quart heart-shape mold. Place rotary beater and bowl in refrigerator to chill.
Set out to thaw 2 12-oz. pkgs frozen, sliced, sweetened strawberries (about 2½ cups)
Meanwhile, pour into a small bowl ½ cup cold water
Sprinkle evenly over the water 1½ tablespoons (1½ env.) unflavored gelatin
Let stand about 5 minutes to soften. Dissolve completely by placing bowl over a pan of very hot water.
When gelatin is dissolved, stir it and blend into a mixture of thawed strawberries and 6 tablespoons sugar, 1½ tablespoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon almond extract
Stir until well blended. Chill in refrigerator or in a pan of ice and water until gelatin mixture is slightly thicker than consistency of thick, unbeaten egg white (if mixture is placed over ice and water, stir frequently; if placed in refrigerator, stir occasionally.)
Lightly oil mold and set aside to drain.
Meanwhile, using chilled bowl and beater, beat about one-half of cream at a time until cream is of medium consistency (piles softly) 1 and 3/4 cups whipping cream
Combine all of whipped cream.
Fold into whipped cream, 3 drops at a time, until desired color is reached 10 to 12 drops red food coloring
Fold whipped cream into slightly thickened strawberry mixture. Pour into prepared mold. Chill in refrigerator until firm.
Meanwhile, wash rotary beater and bowl and return to refrigerator to chill.
When Strawberry Bavarian Cream is firm, unmold.
Using chilled bowl and beater, beat until cream stands in peaks when beater is slowly lifted upright ¼ cup chilled whipping cream
Decorate top of Bavarian with whipped cream forced through pastry bag and No. 27 decorating tube for border and No. 6 decorating tube for flower
8 to 10 servings
When I bought these cookbooks I assumed (erroneously) that the recipes would be easy. They are not. I was so intimidated by this recipe that I waited until two weeks after Valentine’s Day to make my husband a romantic surprise. Here is how it went down.
I purchased a mold at Walmart that looked like it was 1½ quarts. It is not like I could be picky around here. It sat on my counter for about a month until I was brave enough to make this.
The first step is to put the bowl and beater into the refrigerator. Next, thaw the strawberries:
So far, so good.
The next steps are to pour into a small bowl ½ cup cold water and sprinkle evenly over the water 1½ tablespoons (1½ envelope) unflavored gelatin.
We independently came to the same conclusion that the gelatin looked like brains in the bow. Mmm!
Let stand about 5 minutes to soften then dissolve completely by placing bowl over a pan of very hot water.
I was afraid that the gelatin would not go into solution but it did!
Next, when gelatin is dissolved, stir it and blend into a mixture of thawed strawberries and 6 tablespoons sugar, 1½ tablespoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon almond extract.
Stir until well blended. We put it in the fridge to chill since it was easier.
While the mixture was chilling, oil the mold and whip the whipping cream in two batches. My husband assembled the intimidating mixer and whipped the cream:
After the cream is whipped, fold the food coloring into it. This was my favorite part.
The last step is to fold all of the ingredients together…
…and pour into oiled mold:
(As an aside, I have never “oiled a mold” before and had no idea what to do. I used canola oil spray to completely cover the mold. It seemed to work).
Let the mold chill in the refrigerator for a few hours until set (we waited at least a few hours).
The last part is the fun part…the unmolding and decorating of the heart!
I don’t know if we used too much oil or if it is normal to still have that much oil on the mold after it plops onto the plate. I thought it was gross. It did not affect the taste at all but was very unsightly. Perhaps that’s what the decorating is for!
We cheated and used Reddi-Whip for the last part.
When we finally tried the Strawberry Bavarian Cream for the first time it was actually delicious! My only experiences with Bavarian Cream have been with donuts and pies, so this was a new experience. The cream part was sweet but not too sweet, and I really liked the large strawberry pieces within the mold. It does not look like the picture in the cookbook:
I’m okay with that. It tasted good, and that is all that matters.
Time Travel Experience: I could see this being made in the 50’s. Even the ingredients used felt old (the gelatin and those frozen strawberries, plus the actual whipped cream). The ingredients and the different steps (see below) helped this to feel like Valentine’s Day 1956.
Overall Experience: This was delicious but I am glad it is over. I worried about making this for weeks. While each individual step seems fairly easy, the whole process involved doing things that I never do (whipping my own cream, greasing and pouring a mold, decorating the cream once finished). I am not sure I will do this again.