Valentine's Day Dessert Ideas
All I really need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt!— Lucy Van Pelt (in Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz)
When Life Gives You February...
February is typically an unforgiving month of cold winter storms (unless you live in Australia), short dreary days, and long nights. (Honestly, who came up with the concept of sunset at 5 p.m.!?)
Thankfully the days are getting longer, there are only 28 of them (more often than not), and the to-do list is pretty short:
- Enjoy Presidents' Day (???)
- celebrate birthdays (MINE!)
- Pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training (YEA!)
- bask in the decadence of Valentine's Day
OK, Number 4 is really important, and it's not too early to start planning.
What is Your Choice?
What is your favorite type of dessert?
Do You Pine for Pie?
I have not yet tried this recipe, but this Apple Walnut Tart with Maple Custard has to be, hands down, the most beautiful pie I have ever seen. Thank you Pinterest and Hip Foodie Mom.
Do You Cheer for Cheesecake?
I love cheesecakes. They are easy to make but look like you fussed for hours. I promise that this one will wow that special someone. This recipe is from Cooking Light magazine (December 2010)
(Yield - 12 servings):
Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake
- 4 ounces chocolate graham crackers
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- Cooking spray
- 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup Chambord (raspberry liqueur)
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 (8-ounce) packages block-style 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces) block-style fat-free cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs
- 2 large egg whites
- Preheat oven to 375°.
- Wrap outside and bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan tightly with a double layer of heavy-duty foil.
- Place crackers in a food processor; process until finely ground. Drizzle with oil; pulse until combined. Press mixture into bottom and 1/2 inch up sides of prepared pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 8 minutes; cool on a rack.
- Reduce oven temperature to 325°.
- Place cranberries, sugar, liqueur, and water in a saucepan; boil. Cook 8 minutes or until cranberries pop and mixture is syrupy. Cool 20 minutes. Place mixture in a food processor; process 1 minute or until smooth.
- Combine 1 cup sugar and cheeses in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Beat in yogurt, vanilla, and salt. Add whole eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Place 2 egg whites in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until soft peaks form using clean, dry beaters. Fold beaten egg whites into cream cheese mixture. Pour filling over crust. Spoon cranberry mixture over filling; swirl together using the tip of a knife. Place springform pan in a 13 x 9-inch metal baking pan. Add hot water to pan to a depth of 2 inches. Bake at 325° for 50 minutes or until center of cheesecake barely moves when pan is touched.
- Turn oven off. Cool cheesecake in closed oven 30 minutes. Remove cheesecake from oven. Run a knife around outside edge. Cool on a wire rack. Cover and chill 8 hours.
NOTE: If the cranberry mixture gets too thick, add a tablespoon of water and whirl it around in the food processor. You can also make this in an 8-inch springform pan; it'll be very full, so you should cook over a foil-lined baking sheet. Cook time will be the same.
Does Your Heart Beat for Bundt Cake?
I loved carbs, but cakes are not at the top of my list. The "cake" part is usually too dry, and the "frosting" part is usually too sweet, or feels too much like a mouthful of Crisco.
There is an exception however--the Bundt cake. And with that admission, I'm probably showing my age. Bundt cakes were very popular in the late 60's and early 70's. The website www.seriouseats.com provided this history, as written by Lucy Baker:
The Bundt pan was invented in the 1950s by a man named H. David Dalquist. The pan was based on a traditional ceramic dish with a similar ringed shape. Though Dalquist's version was lighter and easier to use than the clunky previous version, sales were disappointing.
Then, in 1966, a woman named Ella Helfrich took second place in the annual Pillsbury Bake-Off with her recipe for Tunnel of Fudge Cake. The walnut-filled, chocolate-glazed cake had a ring of gooey fudge at its center. Eating a slice was reminiscent of indulging in under-baked brownie batter. Helfrich's cake was an overnight sensation. Pillsbury received more than 200,000 requests for the pan she used, and Dalquist's company went into overtime production. Today, more than 50 million Bundt pans have been sold around the world.
I have had this Chocolate Cherry bundt cake recipe for years. I don't know it's origins, but since it is chocolate (my favorite) and cherry (my husband's favorite), and requires only 4 (yes, four!!) ingredients, it reigns supreme in my recipe file.
Black Forest Cherry Cake
- 1 pkg chocolate cake mix
- 1 21-oz can cherry pie filling
- 1/4 cup oil
- 3 eggs
- Powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl. Beat three minutes at medium speed. Pour into greased and floured Bundt pan. Bake in preheated oven 45 minutes.
- Remove from oven. Cool 10 minutes in pan and then invert on cooling rack; remove pan and set cake aside to cool. Dust with powdered sugar.
Got a Chocolate Craving? These Brownies Will Come to the Rescue
Several years ago (OK, more than three decades), a dear friend was in the process of declutting his life, and gave me his collection of Chocolatier Magazine. Chocolatier is published for pastry chefs and cake decorators--each issue packed with sumptuous chocolate creations and articles from famous chefs. These were not a quick read--I pored over each page, carefully digesting (pardon the pun) every word and phrase. What bliss!
In 1986 Chocolatier sponsored the "Great Chocolate Challenge". Barbara Feldman of San Francisco won the Best Overall for her San Francisco Fudge Foggies. Here's what Chocolatier reported about Barbara's creation:
When Barbara Feldman was asked to bring dessert to a party, she literally took the chocolate challenge. She decided to see mow much chocolate she could "squish into one recipe." The result is as dense as San Francisco fog and has a truly dazzling chocolate flavor. The foggy, a creation that is more than a brownie and beyond a fudge, is destined to assume a place all of its own in kitchens throughout the world.
San Francisco Fudge Foggies
Makes 16 foggies
- 1 pound bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
- 1/3 cup strong brewed coffee
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 8 ounces (about 2 cups) walnut halves, coarsely chopped
- Position a rack in the center of oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with a double thickness of aluminum foil so foil extends 2 inches beyond sides of pan. Butter bottom and sides of foil-lined pan.
- In top of a double boiler set over hot, not simmering water, melt chocolate, butter and dissolved coffee, stirring frequently, until smooth. Remove pan from the heat. Cool mixture, stirring it occasionally for 10 minutes.
- In large bowl, using a hand-held mixer set at high speed, beat eggs 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat 2 minutes, or until mixture is light and fluffy. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually beat in chocolate mixture until just blended. Using a wooden spoon, stir in flour. Stir in walnuts. Do not over-beat. Transfer batter to pan. Bake 28 to 30 minutes, or until Foggies are just set around the edges. They will remain moist in the center.
- Cool the Foggies in a pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight, or at least 6 hours.
- Remove top foil and run a sharp knife around edge of Foggies. Using two ends of foil as handles, lift Foggies onto a plate and peel off foil. Invert them again onto a smooth surface and cut into 16 rectangles.
© 2015 Linda Lum