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Love is the Message

Place settings make room for couples to share how they met and fell in love.

Saint Valentine would be proud. February may fall short on days, but February 14th makes up for it with a celebration of romance, love, and special friendships. Roses, sentiments of love and affection, chocolates and other decadent confections do well to sweeten the occasion. While some choose to express their love and admiration in an intimate setting for two, some add place settings for other couples to join in the festivities.

Couples have their own unique love story. A special in-home Valentine’s Day dinner for 4, 6, or 8 can be a uniquely private way to celebrate those stories while intertwining into a shared experience of love and connection. All that is required is some thoughtful planning, a little creativity, and attention to detail. Creating a memorable Valentine’s Day experience should include a delicious meal accompanied by elements of intimacy and fun.

To create a dining space that exudes an intimate atmosphere, consider dimmed lights, an elegant table setting, and perhaps a scattering of rose petals. Small details like personalized place cards with romantic quotes and the couples' names can add a touch of charm to the table setting. The right music - tempo, lyrics, overall mood of the songs - helps to set the tone for the evening.

Crafting a dinner menu that would not only satisfy the taste buds but also evoke the essence of romance is a must. A variety of dishes, from delectable appetizers to mouthwatering main courses should be carefully curated to cater to different preferences. Do not overlook fondue as an option for your Valentine’s Day fare. The fondue pot lends itself to a myriad of creative dipping options and serves as a social and interactive dining experience that encourages sharing. A chocolate charcuterie or other rich chocolatey dessert can serve as the sweet conclusion to the culinary journey.

While couples who know each other may not need an icebreaker to encourage conversation, a well-prepared “Love Story Trivia" game could be a great added touch of fun for the guests. Gather information from the couples in advance of the dinner. At the onset of the evening, each couple is given a set of questions related to their partner's likes, dislikes, and memorable moments from their relationship. The game will not only spark interesting conversations but also provide an opportunity for the couples to learn something new about each other.

Friendships have a positive impact on our lives, but when love and romance are added to the connection, something incredibly meaningful happens. This Valentine's Day dinner will not only celebrate the couples' love stories but will reinforce the importance of holding space for others in a genuine way.

"Love is the Message" is a reminder to cherish and prioritize love in our interactions with family, friends, and romantic partners. Savor and enjoy what could become a sweet new Valentine’s Day tradition.

Classic Swiss Cheese Fondue

Servings: 8

Total time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 garlic clove, halved
  • 1 pound Gruyere cheese, grated
  • 1/2 pound Swiss cheese, grated
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kirsch (cognac)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of the dry white wine.
  2. Rub the inside of a fondue pot or cast iron pot with the garlic clove; discard garlic.
  3. Add remaining dry white wine to the pot and bring to simmer.
  4. Add cornstarch mixture to the wine, mixing constantly while adding handfuls of grated cheeses, stirring until each addition is melted.
  5. Reduce heat to low. Add the kirsch and a generous pinch each of pepper and nutmeg and cook, stirring until creaming and smooth, about 3 minutes. Do not overcook the fondue as it will become stringy. Serve at once.

Warm, Chocolate Molten Cake

Makes 4 individual cakes

Total time: Less than 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick (4 ounces) butter, plus a little for buttering the molds
  • 4 squares (4 ounces) bittersweet chocolate, preferably Valrhona or Girradeli
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons flour, plus a little more for dusting
  1. Preheat oven to 450, and butter and lightly flour 4-ounce molds, custard cups, or ramekins. Tap out excess flour.
  2. Use a double boiler to heat the butter and chocolate together until the chocolate is almost completely melted. While that’s heating, beat the eggs, yolks, and sugar together with a whisk or electric beater until light and thick.
  3. Beat the melted chocolate and butter together. Pour in the egg mixture, then quickly whisk in the flour just until combined.
  4. Divide the batter among the molds. (At this point you can refrigerate the desserts for up to several hours. Bring the back to room temperature before baking.)
  5. Bake the molds on a tray for 7-8 minutes; the center will be quite soft, but the sides will be set.
  6. Invert each mold onto a plate and let sit for about 10 seconds. Remove the cake by lifting up one corner of the mold; the cake will fall onto the plate.
  7. Serve immediately with really good ice cream.

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