By Jennifer Osborn
ELLSWORTH — Does any occasion call for chocolate more than Valentine’s Day? We think not.
So, we turned to one of Ellsworth’s most creative chefs for a dessert recipe fitting for this holiday for lovers and Galentine’s on Feb. 13. First celebrated in the TV show “Parks and Recreation,” Galentine’s Day is solely for women.
Daron Goldstein, the culinary force behind Provender Kitchen + Bar on Ellsworth’s Main Street, developed a chocolate mousse cake recipe that’s perfect for both occasions and one we can all re-create at home.
“It’s a cake with a nice brownie texture,” Goldstein explained. “It’s rich, decadent and all chocolate.”
Goldstein uses two chocolates containing different percentages of cocoa: a 64 percent chocolate and a 72 percent. You can find baking chocolate at Rooster Brother (29 Main St.) and at John Edwards Market (158 Main St.).
Rooster Brother carries the closest approximation in the form of 62 percent chocolate chunks by Scharffen Berger as well as bags of 63 percent extra dark baking chips by Guittard. Or you can go a bit darker with 70 percent bittersweet baking chunks by Scharffen Berger. The store also carries 70 percent bittersweet bars. Any of those will work for this cake.
John Edwards offers bags of Ghirardelli 60 percent bittersweet chocolate chips as well as 70 percent organic dark chocolate “dollops,” which look like disks.
“You could use a little bit more of a sweeter chocolate if you wanted to,” Goldstein said.
A sweeter chocolate would have a lower chocolate number on the package. The higher the number on a package of chocolate, the less filler ingredients such as sugar are in the product.
Goldstein made a chocolate cinnamon ganache to pour over the top of the cake before squiggling a dollop of whipped cream on top.
The chef says the ganache is pretty straightforward and if you don’t want to make your own whipped cream, canned is fine.
But gild the lily, if you will, by dusting the whipped cream with cinnamon.
“The best is to buy a cinnamon stick and grate it,” Goldstein said. “We use a Microplane [zester] or a cheese grater on the finest hole.” Hold your grater over the top of the whipped cream and grate the cinnamon stick directly on top.
With the COVID-19 pandemic still raging, this year’s Valentine’s Day likely will be spent at home. Those restaurants that are open for dine-in are in high demand. Provender was nearly sold out for the holiday in mid-January.
But never fear, realizing this, Goldstein thought to provide recipes for a three-course meal simple enough for you to re-create at home but special enough for you to impress whomever in your life needs impressing.
“This is pretty straightforward,” said Goldstein.
You’ll start with a winter citrus salad, then serve a main course of steak and scallops with garlic butter and finish with the aforementioned chocolate mousse cake.
“The entree is really simple as well,” the chef said. “Surf and turf with a quick little garlic butter sauce to go with it. You definitely can’t go wrong with fresh scallops.”
As far as the winter citrus salad, whatever you find in the produce aisle locally will work.
“They all go together,” Goldstein said. “No need to worry about which one should I get, they all work.” Shaw’s has had some exceptionally tasty oranges called Sumo Citrus this month.
Oh, let’s not forget the cocktail recipe, fresh strawberries and a bit of fresh thyme blended with limoncello. Then, topped with a sparkling white wine like prosecco.
Goldstein has been cooking for 30 years. The Boston native’s first job as a young man was at a restaurant and he never looked elsewhere.
“That’s all I’ve ever been,” he said. “I just really fell in love with it.”
A chef gig in Ogunquit brought Goldstein to Maine, where he would eventually meet his wife, Jordy, a southern Maine native. The couple now have two children, 7 and 5. And six months ago, they bought 112 Main St. — home to Provender — from Ellsworth businessman Jim Pendergist.
The Goldsteins will be out straight working Valentine’s Day weekend but the couple will make time to celebrate at some point.
Valentine’s Day Dinner-in
Recipes courtesy Provender Kitchen + Bar Chef Daron Goldstein
Strawberry Thyme Prosecco Cocktail
2 cups fresh strawberries, chopped
1 cup limoncello (lemon liqueur)
2 Tbsps. fresh thyme leaves
1 bottle sparkling white wine (750 ml)
In a blender, combine strawberries, limoncello and thyme until strawberries are slightly crushed.
Pour strawberry mixture into champagne flutes until half full. Top glasses with sparkling white wine. Serve immediately.
Winter Citrus Salad
2 blood oranges (available in the supermarket)
1 pink grapefruit
1 Cara Cara orange
1 small red onion
2 Tbsps. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
1¼ cup fresh lime juice
2 Tbsps. honey
½ Tsp. chopped tarragon
Peel citrus, removing as much pith (skin) as possible. Slice into wheels and remove any seeds.
Layer fruit on serving dish and sprinkle with salt. Garnish with chopped onion.
Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, honey and lime. Add lime and tarragon and whisk until well combined. Drizzle over salad.
Garlic Butter Steak and Scallops
2 1½-inch-thick beef tenderloins
freshly ground pepper
3 Tbsps. unsalted butter
8 to 10 large sea scallops
Garlic Butter Sauce:
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 Tbsps. unsalted butter, cubed
2 Tbsps. chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsps. chopped fresh chives
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tsps. lemon zest
Kosher salt or sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Heat a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes.
Using paper towels, pat both sides of the steak dry, season with salt and
pepper to taste.
Melt 2 Tbsps. butter. Place the steaks in the middle of the skillet and cook until a crust has formed, about four to six minutes.
Using tongs, flip and cook for an additional three to four minutes or until desired doneness. Set aside and cover loosely.
While the steak rests, wipe the skillet clean and melt remaining tablespoon of butter.
Remove the small side muscle from the scallops, rinse with cold water and thoroughly pat dry.
Season scallops with salt and pepper to taste. Working in batches, add scallops to the skillet in single layer and cook, flipping once until golden brown and translucent in the center, about two to three minutes per side.
Set aside and keep warm.
Garlic Butter Sauce:
Reduce heat to low, add garlic and cook, stirring frequently until fragrant, about one minute.
Stir in butter, parsley, chives, lemon juice and lemon zest, season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve steak and scallops immediately with garlic butter sauce.
Chocolate Mousse Cake
2 cups of baking chocolate
(Ideally, 1 cup of chocolate with 64 percent and
1 cup of chocolate with 72 percent cocoa solids)
2 cups unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
2 cups of granulated sugar
3½ oz. of cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting
1 single espresso shot
½ tsp. salt
Plain flour for dusting cake tin
To make the mousse cake, combine the chocolate and butter in a heatproof glass bowl and set over a pan of simmering water, ensuring that the base of the bowl does not touch the water. Stir the mixture occasionally until everything has melted together and is smooth. Then remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
Whisk together the eggs and sugar using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment or an electric hand whisk on a medium speed for approximately 10 minutes, or until pale and pillowy.
When the chocolate mixture is at room temperature, fold one third into the egg mixture, followed by the other two thirds. Preheat the oven to 356 degrees F.
Sift in the cocoa powder with a pinch of salt and pour in the espresso, folding carefully to combine, and transfer to the prepared 9-inch cake tin. Ideally, place in a bain-marie or a water bath on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 35 minutes. You can use a roasting pan filled halfway with hot water to serve as a bain-marie. When you have it in the oven, pour the water into the roasting pan so you don’t splash water into the cake pan while moving it.
Once the cake is ready, immediately remove from the bain-marie and leave to cool on a wire rack. Once cool, remove the cake from the tin and set aside until ready to slice.
Goldstein recommends using the toothpick method to determine if the cake is done. Stick a toothpick in the middle of the cake and if it comes out clean, the cake is done.