LOVE ME TENDER
Valentine’s Day approaches. The sweetest of days to declare our undying love and devotion to our most adored. Gifts of diamonds and rubies, bouquets of roses, heart-shaped boxes of hand-dipped chocolates, candle-lit dinners at the most elegant of restaurants, a bottle of pink champagne on the table…. screeeeeeech….. (sound of phonograph needle scraping across the lp, the mellow sound of Frank Sinatra turning into nails on the blackboard).
We do not celebrate Valentine’s Day. JP’s philosophy? It’s just another “faux” holiday brought over to France from the United States for purely commercial reasons. “And who do they think they are,” he argues, getting just slightly red in the face, “to tell me when and how I should tell you that I love you?” He is right. He does express his love for me all year long, almost every day and in many ways. And the candy, flowers and jewelry? No need to worry; these tributes of love are showered on me regularly.
I always dreaded Valentine’s Day in grade school. Remember the decorated shoeboxes we would place carefully and proudly on the corner of our desk in the days leading up to V Day? Would the cute guy sitting in the next row put a Valentine in my box? Would it be store bought or handmade, full of lace and flowers? Would it speak of friendship or joke about the day? Or, hope upon hope, would he hint of unrequited love? Or would the box end up being filled with Valentine’s cards from just my girlfriends?
But despite the schoolgirl heartache, I still have a soft spot in my heart for the lacey, gooey, drippy declarations of love. I am more of a traditional romantic to JP’s more impulsive romantic. When he remembers that it is Valentine’s Day, he does ask if I would like to go out, but as it comes sharp on the heels of my birthday, it is usually unlikely that both will be celebrated.
I always have the kitchen to express my emotions on this Day of Love. A nice meal, a bottle of wine, but more often than not, something sweet. I recently stumbled upon some adorable heart-shaped muffins tins and the perfect heart-shaped springform pan at the year-end sales, so I scooped them up and rushed home, thinking of all the glorious, romantic desserts I could make.
Today, just a few days early, I decided on making him his favorite coffee cake. No gooey, chocolaty concoctions for him. He prefers this fluffy, moist just slightly sweet cake with a delicate, flavorful streusel topping studded with mini-chocolate chips. To make it just a little more special, I added flaked coconut and slivered almonds.
Truly a labor of love.
STREUSEL-TOPPED COFFEE CAKE
The is the same recipe I used to make the Quick Cranberry Coffee Cake. The Streusel Topping is also the same except for the additions.
Cinnamon Streusel Topping
2 Tbs (30 g) unsalted butter, cold
2 Tbs flour
5 Tbs brown sugar
1/2 - 1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ cup mini-chocolate chips
½ cup sweetened, flaked coconut
½ cup slivered almonds
Put the butter, flour, cinnamon and sugar in a robot mixer and whiz until well-blended and crumbs form.
Put the streusel in a bowl and stir in as much of the chips, coconut and slivered almonds as desired, even more if you like. What you add to the Streusel is up to you – chocolate chips, chopped walnuts or pecans, flaked coconuts, chopped or slivered almonds, fresh or dried fruit, whatever you like.
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
Grease an 8 1/2-inch (22 cm) round springform pan - or a 9 x 9-inch (23 x 23 cm) square pan or similar. Or, of course, a heart-shaped pan.
Prepare the batter (click here for detailed instructions). Spread the batter evenly in the pan.
Sprinkle on the Streusel Topping.
Bake for at least 25 minutes until a tester inserted in the center all through the cake comes out clean (except for the chocolate in the streusel which may cling to it). Remove from the oven onto a rack and let cool in pan for 10 - 15 minutes.
At this time, gently loosen and remove the ring from the springform and allow to finish cooling before sliding or lifting it carefully off the bottom and onto a serving platter.
Is this the perfect declaration of love?