Holiday calls for chocolate

Published 5:09 am Wednesday, February 11, 2009

By Staff
I sat down over the weekend and pondered what kind of recipes I’d like to put in this space for this week when it hit me — it’s Valentine’s Day this week.
That settled it for me as to what kind of recipes I needed to put in this column this week. Although there are many decadent recipes that would be wonderful to serve to sweethearts everywhere, you just simply can’t go wrong with chocolate!
After searching through several books, I’ve settled on a few chocolate recipes that sound perfect for the upcoming Valentine’s Day celebration.
You have a couple of days to get into the mood to prepare any of the desserts here, so head to the grocery store, break out the cake and pie pans and have a great Valentine’s Day.
This first recipe is one that is great for any sweetheart including those little sweethearts we called our children. This is so close to a pudding they won’t care what it’s called.
As you probably can guess from the selection of recipes here, most of them came from the Hershey’s company. They are, of course, the authority on chocolate.
Sweetheart Chocolate Mousse
1 envelop unflavored gelatin
2 tbsp. cold water
1/4 cup boiling water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 cups cold whipping cream
2 tsp. vanilla
Fresh raspberries or sliced strawberries
Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in a small bowl and allow to stand two minutes to soften. Add boiling water and stir until gelatin is completely dissolved and mixture is clear. Allow to cool slightly. Mix sugar and cocoa in large bowl, add whipping cream and vanilla. Beat on medium speed scraping bottom of bowl occasionally, until mixture is stiff. Pour in gelatin mixture and beat until well blended. Spoon into dessert dishes. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh berries or other fruit.
The mousse sounds so good, but if you’re looking for something a little more decadent, then you may want to try your hand at this next recipe. There is no possible way to go wrong when you serve cheesecake. Throw in the fact that it’s filled with wonderful chocolate flavor and you’re bound to please your sweetheart’s taste buds.
The recipe calls for the crust to be made with chocolate cookie crumbs. I’ve seen chocolate-flavored graham cracker treats on the shelf and thought that would probably work nicely. I think the Oreo-type cookies might make the crust gummy.
The next recipe also calls for instant espresso powder.  If you have had trouble finding that, there is a solution. Use regular instant coffee granules, only put them through the food processor or chopper to turn it into a powder. Then measure accordingly. If you don’t want a really strong flavor from the coffee, then simply use the instant coffee in the recommended measurement without the grinding. If you don’t have the mini Kisses, you can use regular milk chocolate chips instead.
Cappuccino-Kissed Cheesecake
1 1/2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs
6 tbsp. butter, melted
1 1/4 cups mini Kisses, divided
4 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tbsp. instant espresso powder
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
Espresso Cream
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine cookie crumbs and butter and press into the bottom and one inch up the side of a 9-inch spring form pan. Melt 2 cup of the mini Kisses over low heat stirring constantly. Beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, milk, espresso powder and cinnamon. Beat on low speed until well blended. Add melted Kisses and beat on medium speed for two minutes and spoon into crust. Bake for 55 minutes. Remove pan to wire rack and cool for 15 minutes. Loosen cake from side of pan with a knife and cool completely. Remove side of pan. Cover and refrigerate for at least four hours before serving. Garnish with espresso cream and remaining mini Kisses. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers.
Espresso Cream: Beat 1/2 cup cold whipping cream with two tablespoons powdered sugar and one teaspoon instant espresso powder until stiff.
Finally, for a great recipe that will be pretty and will taste great, this one is fairly simple to prepare.
Red Raspberry
Chocolate Bars
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans
1 egg, beaten
1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter or margarine
1 (12 oz.) jar seedless red raspberry jam
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 baking pan. Stir together flour, sugar, pecans and egg in large bowl. Cut in butter with pastry blender or fork until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside 1 1/2 cups crumb mixture. Press remaining crumb mixture on bottom of prepared pan. Stir jam to soften then carefully spread over crumb mixture. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Crumble remaining crumb mixture evenly over top. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool Completely on wire rack before cutting into bars.
I hope that you and your sweetheart enjoy the coming holiday. It’s a great chance to make sure the ones you love know it.
Until next week, happy Valentine’s Day and happy cooking.

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