Centuries ago, people didn't know that the heart was what pumped blood through the body's circulatory system. However, they did know that the heart beats faster when a person is excited or upset. For this reason, it was believed that the heart was the center of our feelings. Thus, the heart become the quintessential symbol of love.
In commemoration of Valentine's Day, Zorra of Kochtopf is hosting a special blogging event, A Heart for Your Valentine. She has challenged all of us to romance the special person in our lives with a homemade "edible heart". Deciding what to make was tough. Valentine's Day is all about chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate. I'm married to a man who doesn't like chocolate. Not only that, he doesn't really care much for sweets at all, so coming up with an "edible heart" that he would enjoy was a challenge all on its own. What would be the point of making a special edible Valentine for someone if they won't eat it?
Things got a little scary for a while, when the brioche was baking. The dough kept getting higher and higher, bursting out over the top of the pan. I also had to bake it about 10-15 minutes longer than the recipe specified to get it cooked all the way through. I unmolded it and, lo and behold, it looked like a heart. It worked! I had a beautiful, crusty, buttery, almondy heart-shaped brioche! And let me tell you, It. Was. Fabulous! Honestly, it was one of the most delicious things I ever baked. The brioche was soft and moist on the inside, while the sugar and almonds on the top crust had gotten all crunchy and carmelized. It reminded me of those heavenly almond croissants that I've had in Paris. Really! You must try this one. Even though it looks and tastes like it took all day, it is very easy to make and was ready in just a few hours.
Needless to say, Mr. SGCC loved it when I served it with his coffee this morning. And now, he has all day to pick me up a sparkly little something to thank me!
Happy Valentines Day!
1 1/2 pounds Brioche dough (recipe here)
Making the almond cream:
Cream together the butter, almond paste, flour, egg, orange-flower water and almond extract in a food processor until smooth. Set aside.
Assembling the brioche:
Dust the surface of the dough with flour and cut off a cantaloupe-sized piece. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter turn as you go.
Roll the dough into a 1/4 inch thick rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Use just enough flour to prevent it from sticking.
Generously grease an 8-inch round cake pan with butter. Sprinkle the pan with a dusting of granulated sugar.
**I used a heart-shaped insert, which I also greased and sugared and placed it inside of the cake pan.
Cut the chilled dough into 8 equal pieces. Place them in the prepared pan with the swirled egde facing up. Let the dough rest for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
Mix the sugar, orange zest and almonds together and sprinkle over the brioche. Bake without steam until golden brown and set in the center, about 40 minutes.
Run a knife around the inside of the pan to release the brioche and invert it into a serving dish. Eat warm.