Cook's Corner: Looking for a Valentine's Day chocolate fix?

Published 3:57 am Wednesday, February 13, 2008

By Staff
It's often been said the way to a man's heart is through his stomach That may very well be true, but keep this in mind: the path is a long one, so you're going to have to serve a lot of food.
If your Valentine's Day will be spent with a loved one, you may want to consider creating a dish that will help you get to their heart.
For some reason, chocolate and Valentine's Day are always thought of together. Nearly every store has some sort of Valentine candy available and 99 percent of that candy revolves around chocolate. You'll find chocolate hearts, chocolate lips, chocolate roses, chocolate in the shape of a lock and key, and the list goes on and on and on.
I've decided to share some recipes in this space that would be perfect for any Valentine's Day celebration. Whether your special Valentines are children or adults, these dishes are sure to be a hit no matter what kind of gathering you have.
Valentine Brownies
1 (19.8 ounce) package fudge brownie mix
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup baking cocoa
Prepare and bake brownie mix according to package directions for fudge-like brownies. Cool completely on a wire rack. In a small mixing bowl, cream the butter, confectioners' sugar and vanilla until smooth. Place in a heavy-duty resealable plastic bag; cut a small hole in a corner of bag; set aside. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Dust with cocoa; set aside. Cut brownies into 15 rectangles. Using a 1-1/2-in. heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out a heart from the center of each brownie. Reserve cutout centers for another use. Place brownies on prepared baking sheet. Pipe frosting into centers of brownies. For added flair, add red food coloring a couple of drops at a time to the frosting until your favorite shade of pink or red is achieved.
If you're into chocolate, but can't quite imagine having brownies be a romantic dessert, this next idea is one you'll love.
Fondues are an age-old custom and create a very festive atmosphere at any gathering. Depending on the items you dip into the fondue, you can enjoy a dessert filled with nostalgia, elegance, flair and romance.
Wooden skewers are available at just about any grocery store and other retailers. Fill a wine glass with the skewers and have it sitting near bowls of wonderful items just waiting to be dipped in chocolate.
Of course what you dip in the chocolate is up to you, but I'm offering a few suggestions for your consideration. If you cut up your own items, make sure that you cut items to be dipped in at least 1-inch pieces. Some choices that go particularly well with chocolate are pineapple, strawberries, kiwi, orange sections, grapes, bananas, marshmallows, Rice Krispy treats, brownies, pretzels, and the list goes on and on.
At any rate, you may want to try this fondue recipe. It is so much more than melted chocolate. The flavors you'll add in are wonderful and go well with just about any type of fruit you'd want to dip.
Groovy Fondue
2 cups milk chocolate chips
3 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons cherry brandy
1 tablespoon strong brewed coffee
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Combine chocolate, cream, brandy, coffee and cinnamon in a fondue pot over a low flame (or in a saucepan over low heat). Heat until melted, stirring occasionally. Serve at once. If you choose not to use the cherry brandy, you may substitute it with 2 teaspoons cherry flavoring and 1 tablespoon cherry juice.
The last recipe I'll share with you is one that I have prepared many, many times. I always get good comments from those I share this with. Kids love it because it's chocolate, and grown-ups love it because it is sweet with out being syrupy. I hope you enjoy it.
Chocolate Covered Cherry Cake
1 (18.25 ounce) package devil's food cake mix
1 (21 ounce) can cherry pie filling
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 eggs
1 cup white sugar
5 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup milk
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan. In a large bowl, combine cake mix, cherry pie filling, almond extract, and 2 eggs by hand; stir until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until it tests done. Cool. In a small saucepan, combine sugar, butter or margarine, and milk. Boil, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in chocolate chips until smooth. Immediately pour over partially cooled cake.
I hope that your Valentine's Day is one that will give you cherished memories for years to come. My prayer for you is that you are able to spend the day with someone who loves you and someone you love.
Remember, if you have a recipe, tip or idea that you'd like to share with the readers, I'd love to pass it along. Just give me a call at 867-4876, drop by the office at 407 St. Nicholas Ave. or drop me a line by email at Until next week, Happy Cooking!

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