Love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.
- Robert Heinlein
Go ahead, just try and convince me. I surrender to your words. Wrap me in your arms and tell me that the day means nothing to you at all, that no one can put limits or restrictions, obligations or rules on the expression of your feelings. Tell me that you desire me every day and you need no one at all to hand you an opportunity to show me just how much. But (just this once) recognize this day with a gift or a sign, no matter how small, just because you know what it means to me, a single sentimental gesture to acknowledge the expectation that flutters in my heart, and I promise you that in return I will agree with you about the nothingness of Valentine’s Day every single day for the rest of the year.
Ah, Valentine’s Day. Who knows just precisely how or when or where you began, who proclaimed this as the day of love, billets doux, sweet nothings, gentle whispers and fervent glances. And to what import? Did Mark Antony need Valentine’s Day to pull Cleopatra into his lustful embrace? Did Romeo need Valentine’s Day to inspire him to declare his passion for the young Juliet hovering breathlessly above in the moonlight? Did Valentine’s Day stir Napoleon’s amour for Josephine or elicit Darcy’s throwing himself at Elizabeth’s feet? No, I dare say not. It is true that one does not need this day to be a lover, to express desire, to recount unhesitatingly, ardently, passionately one’s undying love. No, not at all.
And as far as famous lovers go, we may be more Lucy and Ricky, our couple that quirky balance of fiery and comical, or George Burns and Gracie Allen, a little bit like some zany old-fashioned sitcom. Or even Julia and Paul Child, playful and creative and standing out from the crowd like two rare and exotic creatures, more intellectual than glamorous, more ordinary than star crossed, more frivolity and heartfelt emotion than dark, brooding vamp and suave Casanova. But whoever or whatever the influence, we have never needed Valentine’s Day as a pretense to offer each other gifts, pop open the Champagne or snuggle up together. Yet…. yet… there is still something about Valentine’s Day that stirs up my womanly desires, lights the fire within, brings out the fluttering young girl in me again.
Like a faded romance novel or timeworn love story, I want him to smother me with kisses, shower me with baubles and sentimental gewgaws; I want to feel his soothing caress and his warm breath on my cheek as his love washes over me. But he is right. No exuberant display of emotion is necessary, not even diamonds and rubies are required, just his loving glance, my hand in his, a gentle squeeze, a careful, graceful acknowledgement of my frivolous desire to be pampered on this of all days and then we can move on to all the rest of the days of the year.
For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart.
It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul.
– Judy Garland
* It’s the same story every year, and this Valentine’s Day is no different. Although he offers to take me out and bring me a voluptuous bouquet simply to make me happy, he believes none of it. Yes, it is the same story every year so I decided to republish an old Valentine’s Day post from 2011, only slightly altered, a bit like us.
Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta & Amaretti Brownies
Recipe Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta can be found here:
Changes: the seeds scraped out of one vanilla bean/pod replaced the liquid vanilla extract. Add the seeds with the 2 cups cream and the sugar to the warm cream/gelatin mixture in the pot and finish the recipe as indicated.
Make the Panna Cotta the day before making the dessert. Either divide the panna cotta evenly among 6 or 8 dessert glasses or ramekins or pour into a large, shallow baking dish if you want to add a layer of the panna cotta to a layer of brownie. Chill overnight in the refrigerator.
Recipe Amaretti Brownies can be found here:
Changes: The Amaretto can be replaced with 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or ½ teaspoon vanilla extract + ¼ teaspoon almond extract.
Allow the brownies to cool completely in the pan.
For the Valentine’s Day dessert, serve the glass of Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with a dollop of very lightly sweetened or unsweetened whipped heavy cream and raspberries with a small round of Amaretti Brownie.
To create the layered dessert, using a round ring mold or cookie/biscuit cutter, cut out a round from the Amaretti Brownies per serving; carefully twist the mold and lift out brownie round and place on a dessert plate. Very carefully, using the same ring mold, cut out a round from the Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta and lift up using a spatula pushed underneath to lift it up and onto the brownie. Carefully but quickly slide the spatula out from under the panna cotta, aligning the ring mold over the brownie and lift. Serve immediately with a dollop of whipped cream and raspberries. If desired, place the ring mold with the slice of panna cotta over the brownie round and slide the ring down onto the brownie and reserve in the refrigerator in the ring mold to chill until ready to serve.