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Chocolate says love to Valentine

February 12, 2014
By ESTHER MCCOY - Food editor (emccoy@heraldstaronline.com) , The Herald-Star

Valentine's Day, Feast of St. Valentine or Cupid's Day, however it might be called in your mind, is arriving quickly. There are just two days to go as a matter of fact.

It really should be celebrated in whatever manner you and your partner think would be most enjoyable. It could be dinner at a fancy restaurant; a movie at the theater, accompanied by a burger; a pizza and a bottle of wine at home, with or without a video; or a homemade dinner of whatever the person you are cooking for enjoys most. But make sure there is a favorite of the cook's included as well.

I read about a meal planner making a yellow cake with chocolate frosting for Valentine's Day, although this was not her favorite. It was a giving action, and that can be a gift in itself- enjoying making someone else happy for at least one day.

Article Photos

SOME DAY, LITTLE SISTER — Two-year-old Carmen Rodriguez explains to her 2-month-old sister, Shaylor McHugh, that one day she’ll be eating Valentine’s Day cookies but not just yet. Shaylor is wearing her “Little Sister” shirt and a bow in her hair.
--Esther McCoy

Good Housekeeping magazine had a goodbye story by its retiring editor-in-chief, Rosemary Ellis, wishing her readers every rich and good thing and time to enjoy it all. She wished good health and an awareness of love, the wisdom to recognize and count blessings and the courage to face the troubled situations that are an inevitable part of life.

This is what Valentine's Day should be about. Respecting, caring and finding joy in those near and dear to the heart. Finding joy in each day, no matter what your circumstances, is the best gift that can be given and accepted, though.

Chocolate seems to be an important part of Valentine's Day for some. Here is a cake from Woman's Day magazine that is rich in cocoa powder, with a combined coffee flavor. It actually is a large cake, baked in a 9- by-13-inch rectangle pan and two 5-inch round pans. Make it for a party or to share with the neighbors after the big V-day.

Chocolate Coffee Cake

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, not Dutch processed, sifted

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 sticks unsalted butter, 1 cup, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup packed light brown sugar

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

4 large eggs

1 cup buttermilk

2/3 cup brewed coffee, at room temperature

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 9-by-13-inch rectangle and two 5-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms of the pans with parchment, then oil the parchment. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using an electric mixer on medium-high, beat the eggs, butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and add the eggs, one at a time. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk and beating just until incorporated. Gradually add the coffee and beat until smooth. Spoon 1 1/2 cups batter into each round cake pan. Spread the remaining batter into the rectangular pan. Bake until a wooden pick inserted into the cakes come out clean, 35 to 40 minutes for the 9-by-13-inch pan and 20 to 25 minutes for the round pans. Let cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

This frosting is made without confectioners' sugar and is rich and chocolatey.

Egg yolks thicken it when boiling syrup is slowly poured over the beaten yolks. Add the chocolate and beat until smooth. This is from Five Star Southern Living Recipe Collection.

Creamy Chocolate Frosting

3/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup water

3 egg yolks

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

Two 1-ounce squares unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled

Two 1-ounce squares semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled

1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil; cook over medium heat without stirring until mixture reaches soft ball stage, 240 degrees. Beat egg yolks at high speed in an electric mixer until thick and lemon colored; continue beating, slowly adding hot syrup in a thin stream. Beat until mixture thickens and cools. Add butter, 3 tablespoons at a time, beating until smooth. Stir in melted chocolate and vanilla. Chill to spreadable consistency. Makes 2 cups.

Along with the cakes, cookies and brownies with a rich chocolate flavor, there is the red velvet variety of cake and cookies that are quite popular right now.

This recipe for brownies uses a fudge brownie mix and, of course, the 1-ounce bottle of red food coloring. Of course, it is from a McCormick recipe.

Red Velvet Brownies

Family size package fudge brownie mix

1/2 cup sour cream

2 eggs

1-ounce bottle red food color

8 cups confectioners sugar, 2 pounds

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

2 teaspoons pure vanilla

Put brownie mix into a large mixing bowl. Add sour cream, eggs and red food color; mix well. Spoon batter in greased 13-by-9-inch baking pan. Bake as directed on brownie box and let cool. Brownies can be cut into squares or cut into heart shapes. Place on wire rack and set over a baking sheet. Mix confectioners sugar, water and corn syrup in medium saucepan. Cook on medium-low heat until sugar is melted, stirring occasionally. Stir in vanilla. Tint with desired food color. Spoon or pour over top and sides of brownies.

If icing becomes too stiff, gently reheat to pouring consistency. Let stand until icing is set. To use for decorating, tint to a darker color and pour into a small resealable plastic bag. Snip off a tiny edge and squeeze through the hole to decorate or write on brownies.

Here is a bread pudding that is made with chocolate milk and chocolate chips.

For anyone who likes chocolate and bread pudding, this would be a good mixture. It makes nine servings. It is from Family Circle magazine.

Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding

16-ounce loaf cinnamon raisin bread, cut into cubes

1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

3 cups chocolate milk

4 large eggs

1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon confectioners sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl, toss bread with 3/4 cup of mini chips. In a medium bowl, whisk together chocolate milk, eggs, brown sugar and vanilla.

Pour milk mixture into bread mixture, then transfer to prepared baking pan, pressing down lightly.

Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup mini chips. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Dust with confectioners sugar just before serving.

Note: This is not easy on calories. It is 409 calories per serving, with 14 grams fat.

Remember Whoopie Pies from days past?

Good Housekeeping magazine had a recipe for the cream-filled chocolate cookies that should be a hit with chocolate lovers.

They are costly in the calorie count, as it is 225 calories per cookie but oh so good, if you like chocolate.

Whoopie Pies

Cakes:

2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup whole milk

1/ cup vegetable oil

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

Filling:

1/2 cup butter or margarine, at room temperature

1 cup confectioners sugar

1/2 cup marshmallow creme

1 teaspoon vanilla

Prepare little cakes by preheating oven to 350 degrees. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. With mixer on medium speed, beat in milk, oil, egg and vanilla until smooth. Drop 1 measuring tablespoon batter into prepared sheet. Repeat with remaining batter, spacing 2 inches apart. Cakes will spread.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until cakes spring back when lightly pressed. Cool completely on wire racks.

For filling, beat butter, confectioners' sugar, marshmallow creme and vanilla on high speed in mixer until fluffy. Match up similar filing on flat side of half of cakes and sandwich together with remaining cakes. Store in airtight container at room temperature for up to three days.

(McCoy can be contacted at emccoy@heraldstaronline.com.)

 
 

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