If you live anywhere in the Northeast United States, you are probably contemplating moving to a warm tropical climate right about now. Fiji perhaps? Hawaii? Anything to spice up this frigid and dreary weather is welcomed with open arms. So when my friend Deana suggested that we go to a painting class on Valentine’s day, I was more than excited. On Saturday morning, Deana, her sister Danielle and I went to Pinot’s Palette in Ridgewood, New Jersey. Pinot’s Palette is an art studio where you can enjoy snacks, wine or any beverage you choose to bring while you paint the selected painting under the guidance of the art instructor. You can visit the website, look at the calendar and choose a painting that you would like to create, from a blank canvas. No painting by numbers here. When you arrive you are greeted by a receptionist who checks you in. Then you are instructed to find your assigned seat where you will find your name written in chalk on the table, a blank canvas and a palette (made of a paper plate) with assorted paints and various brushes.

 

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Yes, that’s glass of prosecco on the left. Nothing wrong with drinking while painting at 11am on Valentine’s Day for this single girl! If you think there is no way you can paint a picture from scratch you are probably mistaken. The instructor gives you step by step instructions and before you know it, you feel like an artist.

 

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In case you can’t tell, this is a love postcard. You can see part of the model painting above my head to the left. Not bad huh?

 

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Here are all three of our creations. Mine is on the far right. I loved how even though we are all painting the same thing, there is definitely room for your own style to shine through, as you can tell the subtle differences between our paintings. I would definitely go back!

On Sunday I decided to make flourless chocolate torte with coconut whipped cream. You have to have chocolate on Valentine’s day weekend so here it is. Sadly, I neglected to take a picture of the final product so you will have to use your imagination. This is the only thing I have.

 

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This torte is rich, chocolaty and almost fudge-like. It doesn’t have eggs, flour or butter but you would never know it. I topped it with coconut whipped cream. Amazing! So I’m sharing the recipe so you can make it right away and see what it looked like.

Flourless Chocolate Torte

3 cups of almond flour
2 cups of pitted dates soaked in water and drained to soften
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 pinch of salt
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon of kahlua or any other chocolate liquor. I used Godiva chocolate liquor (optional)

Put all of the ingredients in a food processor. You may have to do this in batches depending on how big your food processor is. Process until everything is combined and forms a ball of “dough”. Line an 8 inch cake pan with parchment paper. A pie plate will work as well. Press the dough into your pie dish or cake pan with your fingers. You can also use parchment paper to press the dough down. The torte should be about an inch thick, give or take depending how big your dish or pan is. Place the pan in the freezer while you make the topping.

Topping

About 1 cup of chocolate chips
About 1 tablespoon of coconut oil

In a double boiler or a sauce pan, combine the chocolate chips and coconut oil over medium heat and whisk until completely melted. Spread the chocolate mixture over the top of the torte and spread around with an off-set spatula or regular spatula. Put torte back in the freezer to set while you make the coconut whipped cream.

Coconut Whipped Cream

1 can of full fat coconut milk. Try to get a brand that is organic and doesn’t have a bunch of filler ingredients like guar gum or preservatives. It should only have coconut and water. I used Native Forest organic unsweetened coconut milk. This brand does have guar gum but it’s organic so at least it’s a little better. I have yet to find a brand that only has coconut and water but I know it exists.
1 teaspoons vanilla extract

Put the can upside down in the refrigerator over night or for several hours. You want the water to separate from the coconut cream. Take the can out of refrigerator, flip it over right side up and open it. You will see the water is on top. Carefully drain the water out. You can save this for smoothies. It freezes well. Then scoop the white coconut “cream” into a mixing bowl, add the vanilla and beat on high, just like you would for whipped dairy cream. This does not take as long. Whip on high for about 2 minutes.

Unmold the torte and put on a cake stand or plate. Top the torte with the whipped coconut cream and eat immediately! This torte tastes even better the next day, if it lasts that long. Store in the refrigerator. Enjoy!