The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

February 14, 2013

All things chocolate for Valentine's Day


Associated Press



The timing of Valentine's Day just one day after the beginning of Lent may appear a cruel bit of timing for some, but not everyone gives up chocolate or dessert as a Lenten sacrifice.

Chocolate and Valentine's Day seem to go together as well as peanut butter and jelly, milk and cookies.

If your sweetheart is among those who did not give up chocolate for the next 47 days, here are some recipes that you might want to try.

And if you are fasting today, consider reading these a special act of penance as you fight temptation.

Victorian Strawberry Chocolate Cake

• 2 cups boiling water

• 1 cup baking cocoa

• 1 cup butter, softened

• 2-1/2 cups sugar

• 4 eggs

• 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

• 2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

• 2 teaspoons baking powder

• 1 quart fresh strawberries

1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips, melted

Frosting:

• 2/3 cup shortening

• 1 package (32 ounces) confectioners' sugar

• 1/2 cup water

Icing:

• 1-1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

• 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

• Chocolate shavings and additional confectioners' sugar, optional

In a small bowl, stir water into cocoa until blended; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder and baking soda; add to the creamed mixture alternately with cocoa mixture, beating well after each addition.

Pour into two greased and floured 9-inch heart-shaped pans. Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

Slice 10 strawberries; set aside. Dip remaining whole strawberries into melted chocolate, about three-fourths to the top. Place on a waxed paper-lined baking sheet; refrigerate until set.

For frosting, cream shortening and confectioners' sugar in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy; gradually add water, beating until smooth. Spread between layers and over top and sides of cake. Set aside to dry, about 30 minutes.

For icing, heat chocolate chips and cream in a saucepan over medium heat until chocolate is melted, stirring occasionally. Spread over frosted cake until smooth. Refrigerate until set. Before serving, arrange two rows of sliced strawberries on top of cake in a heart shape. Fill center with chocolate shavings and dust with confectioners' sugar if desired. Place dipped strawberries around base. Store in the refrigerator.

Note: Cake may also be baked in two greased and floured 9-inch square pans.

(Recipe courtesy of "Taste of Home Baking Book," Reiman Publications)

Valentine Rice Crispy Treats

This heart-shaped rice crispy treats recipe is a great snack to make with the kids for Valentine's Day or anytime.

• 6 cups crispy rice cereal

• 3 tablespoons butter

• 10 ounces marshmallows or 4 cups mini marshmallows

• 1/4 cup chocolate hazelnut spread

• 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

• 1-1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

• 1/2 cup peanut butter

• Candy hearts

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or waxed paper. Place crispy rice cereal in a large mixing bowl.

Heat butter, marshmallows, chocolate hazelnut spread in a small saucepan over medium meat, stirring until melted. Pour over crispy rice cereal and stir until combined.

Pour mixture onto prepared baking sheet, pressing to form a firm rectangle. Let rice crispy treats mixture cool completely.

Place chocolate chips and peanut butter in a microwave-safe container. Heat on 50 percent power for 1 minute, Stir and repeat until chocolate chips are completely melted. Pour the chocolate-peanut butter mixture over the rice crispy treats. Let cool completely.

Cut rice crispy treats into heart shapes with a heart cookie cutter. Top with a heart shaped candy, if desired.

(Recipe courtesy of kidscooking.about.com)

Peanut Butter Brownie Cheesecake

• 1 19-1/2 ounce package brownie mix

• 3/4 cup hot fudge ice cream topping, warmed

• 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened

• 1-1/2 cups crunchy peanut butter

• 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

• 1-1/2 cups whipping cream

• 2 tablespoons powdered sugar

• 4 chocolate-covered peanut butter cups, chopped

Prepare brownie mix according to package directions, using the 13 by 9-inch pan option. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into bars. Press three-fourths of the brownies into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan to form a crust. Spread with warm fudge topping; set aside. Crumble remaining brownies; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and peanut butter with an electric mixer on medium, just until combined. Add sweetened condensed milk; beat just until combined. In a medium bowl, beat whipping cream until soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar; beat until stiff peaks form. Reserve 1/2 cup of the whipped cream mixture. Fold remaining whipped cream into cream cheese mixture.

Spread half of the cream cheese mixture over the hot fudge topping. Sprinkle with one-half of the reserved brownie crumbles. Spread remaining cream cheese mixture over the brownies. Top with the reserved 1/2 cup whipping cream mixture. Sprinkle remaining brownie crumbles and chopped peanut butter cups over the top. Cover and chill for 4 to 24 hours.

(Recipe courtesy "Midwest Living Recipes for All Seasons 2013 Cookbook")

Chocolate Banana Cream Pie

• 1/2 cup sugar

• 1/4 cup cornstarch

• 1/4 teaspoon salt

• 1-1/2 cups milk

• 1 cup whipping cream

• 3 egg yolks, lightly beaten

• 1 tablespoon butter or margarine

• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

• 1 pastry shell (9 inches), baked

• 4 squares (1 ounce each) semisweet chocolate, melted

• 2 medium firm bananas, sliced

• Whipped cream and chocolate shavings, optional

In a saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch and salt. Gradually add milk and cream until smooth. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat; cook and stir 2 minutes more. Add a small amount to egg yolks; mix well. Return all to the pan. Bring to a gentle boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in butter and vanilla. Pour half into the pastry shell; cover and refrigerate. Add chocolate to remaining custard; mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Do not stir. Arrange bananas over filling. Carefully spoon chocolate custard over all. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Garnish with whipped cream and chocolate shavings if desired. Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

(Recipe courtesy of "Best of Country Pies," Reiman Publications)

Chocolate Raspberry Torte

• 1 package (18-1/4 ounces) chocolate cake mix

• 1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese, softened

• 3/4 cup cold milk

• 1 package (3.4 ounces) instant vanilla pudding mix

• 1 carton (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed

• 2 cups fresh raspberries

• Confectioners' sugar

• Fresh mint and additional raspberries, optional

Prepare cake according to package directions, using three greased and floured 9-inch round baking pans. Bake at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Combine milk and pudding mix; add to cream cheese and mix well. Fold in whipped topping and raspberries. Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Spread with half of the filling. Repeat layers. Top with remaining cake; dust with confectioners' sugar. Garnish with mint and raspberries if desired. Store in the refrigerator. Yield: 12 servings.

(Recipe courtesy of "Best of Country Cakes," Reiman Publications)

Cupid's Chocolate Cake

• 1 cup butter or margarine, softened

• 2-1/2 cups sugar

• 4 eggs

• 2-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided

• 2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

• 1 cup baking cocoa

• 2 teaspoons baking soda

• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

• 2 cups water

• 1 cup whipping cream

• 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

• 4 cups buttercream frosting of your choice

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat on high speed until light and fluffy. Stir in 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla. Combine dry ingredients; add to the creamed mixture alternately with water. Pour into three greased and floured 9-inch round baking pans. Bake at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

For filling, in a mixing bowl, beat cream until stiff peaks form. Beat in confectioners' sugar and remaining vanilla. Place bottom cake layer on a serving plate; spread with half of the filling. Repeat. Place top layer on cake; frost top and sides of cake with buttercream frosting. Store in the refrigerator. Yield: 12 to 14 servings.

(Recipe courtesy of "Chocolate Lover's Cookbook," Reiman Publications)

Chocolate Sauce

• 1/2 cup butter (no substitutes)

• 2 squares (1 ounce each) unsweetened chocolate

• 2 cups sugar

• 1 cup half-and-half or evaporated milk

• 1/2 cup light corn syrup

• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a saucepan, melt butter and chocolate. Add sugar, cream, corn syrup and vanilla. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 1-1/2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Serve warm or cold over ice cream or pound cake. For a lower calorie treat, serve over a banana split with all of the fruit and no ice cream; or use as a topping for angel food cake.

(Recipe courtesy of Nancy McDonald, Burns, in "Chocolate Lover's Cookbook," Reiman Publications)

Chocolate Mallow Pie

• 1-1/4 cups crushed cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies (about 14 cookies)

• 1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted

• 2 tablespoons sugar

• 2 packages (one 8 ounces, one 3 ounces) cream cheese, softened

• 1/2 cup chocolate syrup

• 1-1/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips, melted

• 1 carton (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed

• 2 cups miniature marshmallows

• Chocolate curls, optional

In a bowl, combine the cookie crumbs, butter and sugar. Press onto the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake at 375 for 8 to 10 minutes or until set; cool completely on a wire rack.

In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and chocolate syrup until blended. Beat in melted chips. Set aside 1/4 cup of whipped topping. Fold marshmallows and remaining whipped topping into chocolate mixture. Spoon into crust. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight. Garnish with reserved whipped topping and chocolate curls if desired. Yield: 8 servings.

(Recipe courtesy of "Chocolate Lover's Cookbook," Reiman Publications)