Valentine’s Day is coming! For many couples, Valentine’s Day means a romantic dinner out, or even a whirlwind getaway. Ah, young love.
If you have children at home, though, that might not be quite the plan. Not everyone can (or wants to) spring for a babysitter and a five-course meal with wine pairings. So, how do you make Valentine’s Day special when you’re stuck at home with the littles? Here are a few ideas to stoke those romantic fires… and keep reading for a recipe for a delicious chocolate dessert to top off a romantic evening at home.
- Make a lunch date: If you and your partner both work outside the home, or if the littles are in school, take advantage of those daytime hours and clear your schedules for a long lunch on V-day. The crowds are likely to be lighter than at dinner, and you’ll get to focus on a little special time with your valentine and still get to spend the evening at home with the family.
- Include the kids: Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be all about couples if you don’t want it to. Celebrate your family’s love for each other and include the kids! Check out these family-friendly Valentine’s Day ideas from Squidoo (everything from heart-shaped pancakes for breakfast to a family date night) and HuffPo (from a fancy family dinner to an evening movie marathon while the kiddos are tucked in their beds).
- Make it late: Even if you usually eat dinner as a family, if your littles have early enough bedtimes, plan to cook a special meal for just the two of you after your offspring is in dreamland. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate meal — cook something together, or treat your valentine to a favorite meal (maybe reminiscent of one you enjoyed together when you were first dating) or you can even make something ahead to finish off right before you’re ready to eat.
- Have a picnic: Spread a blanket on the living room floor (or in the backyard if the weather is nice enough — take that baby monitor with you!) and indulge in a spread of picnicky foods. Think baguette with an assortment of cheeses, charcuterie and antipasti, and of course a bottle of your favorite wine.
The one thing you should never forget on Valentine’s Day is something sweet — dessert, of course! If you’re pressed for time, pick up some chocolate-covered strawberries to feed to your beloved from one of the many local outlets hawking them this time of year (Amy’s Ice Creams, for one, will have them starting on the 12th).
If you have a little more time — and it really doesn’t require much — whip up a delicious dark chocolate mousse for the two of you.
The best part of this mousse is that it’s served in individual ramekins, so you don’t have to share. Sure, sharing is romantic… but this is chocolate we’re talking about here. Enjoy, and no matter how you end up spending it, have a happy Valentine’s Day!
Dark Chocolate Mousse for TwoAdapted from this recipe
2 egg yolks
2 Tbsp + 1/2 tsp sugar, divided
pinch of salt
1 Tbsp espresso or strongly-brewed coffee
1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 oz high-quality bittersweet chocolate (60-70% cacao), finely chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream, chilled, divided
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1. Set a medium glass bowl over a pot of simmering water (the bowl should fit into the pot enough to be stable, but you shouldn’t wedge it in there). Add the egg yolks, 2 Tbsp sugar, salt and espresso and whisk until the sugar has completely dissolved, about 3 minutes.
2. Add the cocoa and chocolate and stir until the chocolate is almost melted. Remove the bowl from the pot and continue stirring off the heat until the chocolate is completely melted. Set aside.
3. Whip the cream in a stand mixer (or with an electric mixer) until soft peaks form. Add half of the whipped cream to the chocolate mixture and gently fold in with a rubber spatula until completely combined. Add the vanilla and the remaining 1/2 tsp sugar to the reserved whipped cream and whip briefly to combine.
4. Divide the mousse between two small ramekins or dessert bowls. Cover the bowls with plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour, or up to a day. Refrigerate the whipped cream separately.
5. Remove from the refrigerator 15 minutes before serving to allow the mousse to come to room temperature. Serve topped with a dollop of the reserved whipped cream, and enjoy!