Keep it sweet for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day was designed by the marketing company responsible for northern climates. You need to have a Valentine’s Day to buck up spirits in the freezing cold. It is something special that keeps our minds off snow, ice and dreary – it’s romantic. The perfect antithesis!

What’s more enticing than chocolate? Have fun with these recipes and have a warm, romantic and Happy Valentine’s!

Warm Chocolate Brownie Hearts

This is the best recipe for brownies I have ever encountered – moist and rich!

Using a medium-sized, heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut this brownie while still warm into at least four hearts across and five hearts down a 13 x 9 inch pan to make 20 delectable morsels. Quantity of hearts will vary depending on the size of the cookie cutter. Sift icing sugar generously over the surface and serve brownie cut-outs warm, if possible. If so, you are a hero!

1 cup (250 mL) butter, melted
3 cups (750 mL) lightly packed brown sugar (yes, I did say 3 cups – why do you think it tastes this good?)
1 ½ cups (375 mL) all-purpose flour
¾ cup (175 mL) cocoa, sifted
1 tsp (5 mL) baking powder
1 tsp (5 mL) pure vanilla
3 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to (350°F/180°C). Line 13 x 9 inch baking pan with parchment paper.

In a large microwaveable bowl, melt butter; beat in brown sugar, all-purpose flour, cocoa (remember to sift – no lumps please!), baking powder, and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Beat in eggs. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan; make sure batter is spread evenly to edges. Bake in pre-heated oven 30-35 minutes. Batter will still feel soft but will firm up as it cools.

Cool 10-15 minutes on cooling rack. Sprinkle generously with sifted icing sugar. Using cookie cutters placed side by side, cut into chocolate hearts. Makes about 20 hearts.

Mocha Valentine’s Cake

In my humble opinion, this is the best chocolate cake ever! Once you pour the batter into a square and round pan you can create a delectable Valentine’s treat, just follow these instructions.

2 cups (500 mL) granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp (10 mL) vanilla
2/3 cup (150 mL) vegetable oil
2 2/3 cups (650 mL) all-purpose flour
2/3 cups (150 mL) cocoa, sifted
2 tsp (10 mL) each, baking soda and baking powder
1 tsp (5 mL) ground cinnamon
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
2 cups (500 mL) hot, strong coffee

Mocha Frosting:
1 cup (250 mL) soft butter
4-5 cups (1-1.5 L) icing sugar, sifted
1 cup (250 mL) cocoa, sifted
pinch salt
1/2 cup (125 mL) hot, strong coffee
1 tbsp (15 mL) vanilla

Line an 8 inch square baking pan and an 8 inch round pan with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).

In a mixing bowl using electric mixer, beat sugar, eggs, vanilla and oil together for four minutes, until thick. In separate bowl sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Add dry ingredients alternately with coffee to creamed mixture making three additions, two of dry and one of coffee. Beat until smooth. Batter will be on the thin side. Pour batter into prepared pans to equal level. Bake 30-35 minutes or until firm to touch and toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool on cooling racks. Meanwhile, prepare mocha frosting.

Frosting: In large mixing bowl using electric mixer, beat butter until soft and creamy. In separate bowl, sift together icing sugar, cocoa, and salt. Gradually beat in icing sugar mixture into butter mixture alternately with vanilla and enough hot strong coffee to make creamy, smooth texture. It should taste divine!

Arrange the square cake in diamond shape in centre of large tray or cake plate; cut round cake in half and add each half to one side of square to form a heart. Using a metal spatula, spread cake evenly with icing including sides; use icing as “glue” to paste the half rounds to square. Decorate with chocolate curls or candies if you wish. Makes 16-20 servings.

 

Jan Main is an author, cooking instructor and caterer  ~  janmainskitchen@yahoo.ca


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