Chanterelle and Chestnut Bisque, Coffee-Crusted Duck Breast, and Chocolate Espresso Layer Cake

The menu we made for this dinner is wintery, earthy, and elegant all at the same time, with rich flavors tied one to the next: blood orange, endive, chanterelle, chestnut, coffee, brandy, chocolate. Brilliantly colored blood orange mimosas spiked with Campari and honey. A salad of bitter endive and radicchio topped with blood orange slices, goat gouda, and toasted hazelnuts. A velvety bisque of roasted chestnuts and chanterelles. A gorgeous duck breast, coated in coffee and drizzled with rich brandy-balsamic sauce. And a cake – two fat layers of chocolate cake spread thickly with chocolate-espresso buttercream. Everything turned out beautifully, and although there are certainly a lot of components, it was doable to prepare everything in one afternoon, and still sit down with enough energy to enjoy the meal and each other’s company.

Sunday Dinner: Valentine's Day Edition // Chanterelle and Chestnut Bisque, Coffee-Crusted Duck Breast, and Chocolate Espresso Layer Cake

Sunday Dinner: Valentine's Day Edition // Chanterelle and Chestnut Bisque, Coffee-Crusted Duck Breast, and Chocolate Espresso Layer Cake

Sunday Dinner: Valentine's Day Edition // Chanterelle and Chestnut Bisque, Coffee-Crusted Duck Breast, and Chocolate Espresso Layer Cake

Sunday Dinner: Valentine's Day Edition // Chanterelle and Chestnut Bisque, Coffee-Crusted Duck Breast, and Chocolate Espresso Layer Cake

Sunday Dinner: Valentine's Day Edition // Chanterelle and Chestnut Bisque, Coffee-Crusted Duck Breast, and Chocolate Espresso Layer Cake

Sunday Dinner: Valentine's Day Edition // Chanterelle and Chestnut Bisque, Coffee-Crusted Duck Breast, and Chocolate Espresso Layer Cake

The Menu
Blood Orange Mimosa
Endive and Blood Orange Salad
Chanterelle and Chestnut Bisque
Coffee-Crusted Duck Breast with Brandy-Balsamic Sauce
Chocolate Espresso Layer Cake

Sunday Dinner: Valentine's Day Edition // Chanterelle and Chestnut Bisque, Coffee-Crusted Duck Breast, and Chocolate Espresso Layer Cake

Blood Orange Mimosa

Serves 2.

  • 1/2 c. freshly squeezed blood orange juice (from about 2 oranges)
  • 1 1/2 oz. Campari
  • 1 TBS honey
  • chilled Prosecco or Champagne
  1. Whisk together blood orange juice, Campari, and honey until honey is dissolved. Divide between two champagne flutes and top with prosecco or champagne. Stir gently with a long handled spoon or small whisk. Serve immediately.

Sunday Dinner: Valentine's Day Edition // Chanterelle and Chestnut Bisque, Coffee-Crusted Duck Breast, and Chocolate Espresso Layer Cake

Endive and Blood Orange Salad

Serves 4.

  • 1 small head of radicchio
  • 1 large Belgian endive
  • 3 blood oranges
  • 1/4 c. hazelnuts, chopped and lightly toasted in a dry pan
  • 2 oz. thinly sliced goat gouda or other goat cheese
  • 2 TBS champagne vinegar
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  1. Remove and discard the outer leaves from the radicchio and cut out the thick core at the bottom. Roughly chop or shred the radicchio and place in a bowl. Remove the outer leaves from the endive. Slice into thin rounds and add to the bowl with the radicchio. Toss the two vegetables together to evenly combine.
  2. Peel the oranges. Juice one of the oranges so that you have 1/2 cup of juice. Slice or supreme the remaining 2 oranges and set aside.
  3. Assemble the salads by dividing the radicchio mixture between four plates. Top each with several pieces of blood orange, a spoonful of the toasted hazelnuts, and a few slices of the goat gouda. To make the dressing, whisk together the blood orange juice, champagne vinegar and olive oil until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper and drizzle over the salads. Serve immediately.

Sunday Dinner: Valentine's Day Edition // Chanterelle and Chestnut Bisque, Coffee-Crusted Duck Breast, and Chocolate Espresso Layer Cake

Chanterelle and Chestnut Bisque

Serves 2-3.

  • 2 TBS butter
  • 1/3 c. finely diced onion
  • 2 c. fresh chanterelles, cleaned and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 c. peeled, roasted chestnut pieces
  • 3 c. chicken stock
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/2 c. heavy cream
  1. Melt the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the chanterelles and saute until soft and browned on the edges, about 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set several spoonfuls of the cooked chanterelles aside (for garnishing the soup).
  2. Add the remaining chanterelles, chestnuts, chicken stock, and thyme to a soup pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, then remove from the heat. Spoon out the thyme stems and discard. Transfer the soup to a blender and add the heavy cream. Blend on high until very smooth. Pour into bowls and garnish with the reserved chanterelles. Serve immediately.

Sunday Dinner: Valentine's Day Edition // Chanterelle and Chestnut Bisque, Coffee-Crusted Duck Breast, and Chocolate Espresso Layer Cake

Coffee-Crusted Duck with Brandy Balsamic Sauce

Serves 2-3

  • 2 medium duck breasts, trimmed of fat
  • 4 TBS freshly ground coffee beans
  • 2 TBS dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp chili powder
  • 3 TBS butter, divided
  • 2 tsp flour
  • 1/4 c. brandy
  • 1 TBS balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 c. stout or other dark beer
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Mix the coffee, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and chili powder together in a small bowl. Rub the mixture all over the duck breasts so they are fully coated. Melt 2 TBS butter (or duck fat, if you’d like) in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Place the duck breasts in the pan and sear for 1 minute on each side. Flip them a second time (to return to the original side) and transfer the pan to the preheated oven. Cook the breasts for 5-7 minutes, to at least an internal temperature of 130°F. Remove from the oven, transfer to a cutting board or plate and let rest for at least 5 minutes.
  2. Scrape as much of the coffee grounds as you can out of the dutch oven and discard. Melt the remaining 1 TBS of butter in the dutch oven over medium heat. Add the flour and stir to make a paste, cooking for 60 seconds. Add the brandy to the pan (don’t stand over the pan as you do this, as the alcohol will evaporate rapidly and can make you quite dizzy), followed by the balsamic and the stout. Stir to make a thick sauce and cook for 2-3 minutes, until thick and syrupy. Remove from the heat. Slice the duck on the bias and serve drizzled with the brandy-balsamic sauce.

Sunday Dinner: Valentine's Day Edition // Chanterelle and Chestnut Bisque, Coffee-Crusted Duck Breast, and Chocolate Espresso Layer Cake

Chocolate Espresso Layer Cake

  • 1 recipe of Add A Pinch’s “Best Chocolate Cake,” baked in three 6×2 inch pans for 35-40 minutes
  • 1 recipe Chocolate-Espresso Flour Buttercream, recipe below
  1. Once you have baked the three cake layers, turn out onto a cooling rack and let cool completely. Use a serrated knife to trim the dome from each cake so that you have flat layers. Frost the cooled cake with the buttercream, using a dot of buttercream on your cake plate to hold the cake steady. If the cake is crumbing too much as you frost, refrigerate the cake briefly before continuing to frost. Chill the frosted cake for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Chocolate-Espresso Flour Buttercream

Makes about 3 cups of frosting.

  • 4 TBS flour
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp espresso powder
  • 1 c. whole milk
  • 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 sticks salted butter, softened to room temperature
  1. Whisk the flour, sugar, and espresso powder together in a medium saucepan until smooth. Whisk in the milk, and place over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a low boil, whisking the entire time. As the mixture begins to boil it will thicken to a custard like consistency – still whisking, cook the custard for one minute, then remove from the heat. Add the chopped chocolate and whisk until melted. Continue whisking the custard until it has cooled to body temperature, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the softened butter until it is light and fluffy. If it is greasy, refrigerate for a few minutes to make it more firm. Add the cooled chocolate custard to the whipped butter one spoonful at a time, beating to thoroughly incorporate the custard into the butter between additions. If the frosting begins to break or separate, refrigerate for a few minutes before continuing to add the chocolate custard. Once all the custard has been incorporated into the butter, refrigerate the buttercream for 20-30 minutes before frosting your cake. If you refrigerate the buttercream for longer than 30 minutes, you will need to allow it to come back to slightly below room temperature before using.

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