Cherie, Under the Cherry Moon is a Nice Place to Be For Valentine’s

Once again, the time to test the mettle of all of us men is upon us.

Valentine’s Day.  Much scarier than Halloween for some.  More costly than Christmas for others…especially if you do not remember.  So here I am to help out…just a little bit.

However, first a bit of a history lesson.  Sort of.

I actually find this “holiday” a little bit ironic, or even creepy.  Stop and think about it for a moment.   Here is a “holiday” ( I use quotes because it really is not a holiday.  None of us get off of work or anything.  It is just another day…yeah, sure it is!) that was originally named after a martyr, who was promptly canonized as a saint, (hence St Valentine’s Day for some), only later, in 1969 to have the Catholic Church remove the day of his feast from the Calendar of Saints because “not much was known about him” (really?  how did he become a Saint?).  And yet the day may have become most famous by the act of a “few of the boys” on the south side of Chicago…St. Valentines Day massacre.  (I bet they were those rowdy Cubs fans!)

So since the martyrdom, canonization and all did not really provide enough romance, a little creative licensing was added to the lore somewhere along the lines by our glorious card companies.  Woven into the legend, supposedly Valentine of Rome was interrogated by Roman Emperor Claudius II to convert to paganism.   Claudius, who ordered all young men of certain a stature to remain single, so he could build his army to be even stronger and more dedicated to Rome, discovered that Valentine, while imprisoned, was secretly performing wedding ceremonies for the young soldiers, who desired to be married.  Thus, martyrdom.

However all is not lost for love.  Geoffrey Chaucer, the English poet/author from the 14th Century, did record a bit of romance associated with Valentines Day.  ( I guess by this time the Saint thing had worn a little thin.)  In his poem, The Parliament of Birds, he recorded  “For this was Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.”  This was written for, and to mark the engagement of King Richard of England and Anne of Bohemia.  (they were 15 years old)

There is a lot more “legend to this holiday”, but we need to get to a little more serious things.  Last year I introduced a cocktail for you guys to prepare as a treat on Valentines Day for your love, along with a Chocolate Souffle’ recipe.  The Chocolate Souffle’ recipe was not that difficult and it tasted great, so I am going to do something entirely unprecedented and repeat that recipe.  However, I do have a couple of new cocktail recipes to add for this day of romance.  Here is the Souffle’ recipe.  I got it out of a local St Louis magazine, Feast.  It is by Chef Cassandra Vires…and I hope I don’t botch it up, or we may have to have some more cocktails!!!

Chocolate Souffle’

  1. 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
  2. 4 Tbsp sugar, divided
  3. 4 oz semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
  4. 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  5. 2 eggs separated ( that does not mean to keep them apart from one another…important to keep the yolk away from the white)
  6. 1 pinch fine sea salt
  7. 1 pinch cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Grease two 4 oz ramekins with 1 Tbsp butter. (Hey guys, a ramekin is a small bowl usually used for deserts…and often not real big.  A quick trip to Pier One or World Market can probably help you locate them, if not William Sonoma)  Coat the ramekins with 2 Tbsp sugar and place in freezer.  (it is important to do this because heat with this is a bad thing.  Freezing will keep the sugar on the outside and help the egg whites.)

Using a double boiler, I know I am stretching it here, melt the chocolate and remaining 2 Tbsp butter.  Whisk together until smooth.  Remove this from the heat, and whisk in the vanilla and the egg yolks.  In a large bowl, combine the egg whites, salt, tartar and remaining 2 Tbsp sugar.  using a mixer, whip on medium-high until the “peaks” are stiff.  (okay just a minute…I know this is more than most of us guys do, but I think it is worth it.  If I need to explain “stiff peaks” to you, just pour yourself another drink!)

Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture until no white can be seen. (If making this ahead, cover with plastic wrap and put in fridge)  Spoon evenly into the ramekins.  Bake for 25 minutes or until the souffle’ has risen and is a little crusty(like your Uncle that always makes family functions worth attending). If you are going to bake directly from taking out of the fridge, add 5-7 minutes to cooking time.

Really, this was not as difficult as it sounds and it is well worth repeating!

So the cocktails I have to share this Valentines Day are almost as “stiff as those peaks” in the recipe.  The first one will take you…

Under the Cherry Moon

  1. You first need to infuse some bourbon with dried cherries.  Take a small package of the dried cherries and add it to a bottle of Buffalo Trace bourbon.  Let it sit for a few days and then strain the cherries out, refrigerating them for later use as garnish. (the longer the cherries are in the bourbon, the sweeter the bourbon becomes.)
  2. Then you add 1.5 ounces of the cherry infused bourbon
  3. 1 ounce Lillet Blanc (Although I also made this with Cocchi Americano. A little different outcome, but very good none the less.)
  4. 1 ounce Aperol (One of my favorite “take-aways” from our Italy trip)
  5. A few dashes of cherry bitters.
  6. Mix in a shaker with cracked ice, serve with one of the cherries from the bourbon (or two).
  7. Lately I have been serving these in an older/vintage-looking coup glass

The next drink ties in the Valentine’s Day theme a little tighter…chocolate and cherries.  Cherie D’Amour (Sweetheart for you non-Francophiles)

Cherie D’Amour

  1. We start with 2 ounces of Buffalo Trace bourbon in a mixing glass with cracked ice.
  2. Add .75 ounce of Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth (or the best available)
  3. .5 ounces of Creme de Cacao
  4. .25 ounces Luxardo Maraschino
  5. A few dashes of bitters, I found orange works well.
  6. Mix well and pour into the cocktail glass of choice.  I like to make sure that some of the cracked ice finds its way into the glass…nice on the palate.

Voila’ mes amis.

Once again, I have tried to help my fellow-man by providing a few timely cocktails and even a desert to an important day in “our” lives…Valentines Day.

So, whether you are a Saint (Valentine…at least he kind of is/was) or a Sinner (sorry Roman Emperor Claudius II) or just a poet (a deserving nod to Chaucer), I hope you have someone special in your life to share your life with…and this “day”.  I do.

I love my family.  My sons are my world.  But my wife holds my world together, is the cornerstone and has blessed me with my sons.  I learned long ago that no matter how much I want to give my sons, no matter how much I love them, I can not give them anything more important than the gift of love…to their Mother…who deserves it and to whom I do give that gift.

Happy Valentines Day to all….especially Diana, my love.

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