From The Food Channel
Let’s face it, just as weddings are all about the bride, Valentine’s Day is another day that’s really for the girls. If it were banished from the calendar forever, most guys would do a little victory dance on some imaginary football field.
Women, on the other hand, love this holiday about love. So on Feb. 14, your significant other — husband, boyfriend, fiancé, long-time companion — like it or not, will hopefully fulfill the obligation and take you out somewhere nice for dinner.
But wouldn’t you like to stretch out the holiday a little? Maybe have some other ladies over to celebrate in anticipation of the heart-shaped holiday?
For the ladies only
Well, the chefs at The Food Channel have cooked up something sweet, girly, and totally yummy for just such an affair. It’s our first annual Ladies Only Valentine’s Fantasy Dessert and Coffee Party.
So call up your gal-pals and invite them over for some sweet treats you will create with your own two hands.
Love is in the air… and out of the oven
Our Valentine’s dessert table offers an abundance of decadence. Lots of chocolate of course, featured in our Chocolate-Glazed Brownie Cookies and luscious Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries. Our Sour Cherry Almond Bars are light, sweet wonders.
Oh, and did we mention the White Chocolate Martini? Now that will definitely enhance the mood. (What, you didn’t know that chocolate is a mood lifter?)
Anyway… The Food Channel’s chefs and party hostesses have offered a few other tips to make your Gal-Val Party a memorable one.
• Flowers add beauty, color and class. Rather than buying a lot of different types of flowers or arrangements, purchase a larger amount of one kind of flower, such as roses. Supermarkets and club stores (e.g., Sam’s Club) offer flowers at considerably lower prices than florists. Arrange the flowers in a variety of vases, grouping them in clusters of complementary colors. And get rid of the baby’s breath.
• Set out an eclectic variety of plates. Vary the sizes, shapes and styles.
• Arrange a few candles of varying heights.
• Use pedestal plates if you have them; they add visual interest and sophistication.
• Wrap some of your cookies in cellophane and ribbon as takeaway party favors or parting gifts.
• Set out a pretty gift box or two filled with nice truffles from the candy store.
• Offer a variety of coffees and teas (including decaf).
• And the most important thing, don’t stress. Just have fun. Maybe you can even talk your significant other into helping with baking and taste testing.
Glazed Brownie Cookies From The Kitchens of The Food Channel
Preparation time: 25 minutes; cooking time: 12 minutes; serves 20
You’re sure to earn some “brownie points” with these chocolaty delights! The outsides of these cookies are crispy while the inside is soft and chewy. With pecan pieces throughout – plus a rich chocolate glaze – these cookies are truly decadent.
Be careful not to over bake these cookies. Take them out after 12 minutes even if they are soft to the touch – they will firm up once they cool. Also, other chopped nuts can be substituted for the pecans.
1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
8 ounces German’s sweet chocolate, broken up
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1 batch Chocolate Glaze recipe
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Sift flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together; place in medium bowl.
In double broiler, melt butter and chocolate; stir until well combined. Let cool.
Beat eggs with an electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy. Add sugar gradually until a ribbon forms and color becomes very light. Add vanilla.
Add cooled chocolate to egg mixture and beat on low speed until well blended. Remove from electric mixer and fold in sifted dry ingredients. Fold in pecans as well.
Using a rounded teaspoon, drop batter onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, placing 1-1/2 inches apart.
Bake for 12 minutes. Cookies will look cracked, light in color, and still very soft.
When cool, spread cookies with Chocolate Glaze using a small off set spatula.
Chocolate Glaze From The Kitchens of The Food Channel
Preparation time: 10 minutes; serves 20; makes 3/4 cup glaze
This dark and glossy glaze is a great addition to many cookies, cakes, pastries, and even ice cream that need a chocolate boost. Add it to a chocolate cookie and the glaze sends them over the top!
Very versatile, this glaze can be drizzled or applied with a small offset spatula. An easy way to coat cookies is by dunking them upside-down in this rich but somewhat thin icing.
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped (1 square)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup cream
3 tablespoons hot water
1 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
In double broiler, melt butter and chocolate; stir until well combined.
Remove from chocolate mixture from double broiler; add heavy cream and hot water. Stir until well blended.
Add powdered sugar; stir until completely dissolved and smooth.
Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries From The Kitchens of The Food Channel
Preparation time: 25 minutes; serves 12
Switch out milk or white chocolate for the dark chocolate in this recipe for flavor and color variation. Add visual interest by drizzling milk or white chocolate over chocolate-dipped strawberries. The strawberries could also be coated in various chopped nuts or toasted coconut immediately after being dipped in chocolate.
25 large strawberries
1, 12-ounce bag dark chocolate chips
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Clean and dry strawberries, leaving stems and leaves intact.
In double boiler, over low heat, melt chocolate and oil; stir to combine.
Lay waxed paper on flat surface. Dip strawberries one by one into chocolate mixture, allowing extra chocolate to drip off, lay onto waxed paper to set.
If your kitchen is warm, strawberries may be refrigerated for 10 minutes to set chocolate.
Tip: When using white chocolate chips, more oil may be needed to achieve a drizzling consistency.
Sour Cherry Almond Bars From The Kitchens of The Food Channel
Preparation time: 15 minutes; cooking time: 20 minutes; serves 16
Sour cherries complement the buttery crunch of oats in this quick snack or dessert. Perfect for a bake sale or an after-school snack, you’ll want to make these often because they’ll disappear quickly.
Any fruit preserves can be substituted for the sour cherry flavor in this recipe. Try a mixed fruit for a more festive treat, or add a simple glaze of powdered sugar, vanilla and milk until it’s a drizzling consistency for a fancier look.
3/4 cup butter, diced, at room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
1-1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
2, 13-ounce jars sour cherry preserves
1/2 teaspoon almond extract oats
1/3 cup sliced almonds
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Beat butter with an electric mixer until smooth; add brown sugar gradually until well blended.
Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and oats; add to butter mixture and mix until well combined.
Press 3/4 of the mixture into a greased 13-inch-by-9-inch baking dish; top with sour cherry preserves, spreading evenly.
Add almond extract and almonds to remaining 1/4 mixture, combine well. Sprinkle evenly over preserves.
Bake 20 minutes and cool completely before cutting into 16 equal rectangles.
White Chocolate Martini
From The Kitchens of The Food Channel
Preparation time: 10 minutes; serves 2
Decadent, over the top, DANGEROUSLY Delicious! Rich velvety white chocolate concocted into a sinful drink.
1/2 cup half and half cream
4 ounces white chocolate, rough chopped
2 ounces vodka
2 ounces Simple Syrup (see recipe below)
Heat half and half cream in a small saucepan; slowly add white chocolate, whisk continually, until chocolate is melted. Cool to room temperature.
Add vodka and simple syrup* to white chocolate mixture; stir to blend. (*See Simple Syrup recipe below)
Pour into 2 martini glasses; serve.
Simple syrup (or “sugar syrup”)
Used in many cocktails and other drinks such as to sweeten iced tea; it can be made ahead and held refrigerated for use as needed.
To make Simple Syrup:
Combine 1 cup sugar and 2 cups water in saucepan.
Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until sugar is completely dissolved.
Remove from heat; cool.
Here are some more special Valentine’s Day recipes from The Food Channel.
Chocolate Ganache Tartlets
From The Kitchens of The Food Channel
Preparation time: 10 minutes; cooking time: 10 minutes; serves 12
These simple, bite-sized tartlets pack a rich, chocolaty punch. They are easy to make, and will be a big hit at your holiday party.
For added flavor mix in your favorite fruit or nut liqueur such as Grand Marnier or Frangelico.
2, 9-inch refrigerated piecrust dough discs
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Unroll prepared piecrust and lay on to a cutting board.
Using a 3-inch diameter cookie cutter, cut circles from the piecrust. Each piecrust should yield 10 circles. Combine dough scraps, roll flat, and cut the remaining 4 circles.
Spray mini cupcake pan with nonstick cooking spray. Press each dough circle into the bottom and sides of the cupcake molds.
Bake for 9 minutes, until edges become golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes.
Combine chocolate chips and heavy cream in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 1-1/2 minutes, stirring every thirty seconds. When completely melted and smooth, transfer mixture to a measuring cup.
Fill each shell with chocolate ganache and allow to rest at room temperature at least one hour.
Remove from the pan and serve.
Askinosie Chocolate Cake
Recipe courtesy of Carrie G. and Askinosie Chocolates from The Food Channel
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Natural Cocoa Powder makes this moist cake extra rich, with a deep, chocolate-infused flavor. Go to www.askinosie.com to learn more about this particular chocolate product and more.
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 tablespoons (heaping) Askinosie Chocolate Natural Cocoa Powder
1 cup water
1/2 cup buttermilk**
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 9-inch-by-13-inch pan.
Mix sugar and flour together in a large mixing bowl, set aside. In a small pan on the stove melt butter, then add vegetable oil, cocoa and water, bring to a boil. Pour cocoa mixture into sugar/flour mixture. Mix with a hand mixer for 5 minutes.
Add buttermilk, vanilla, salt, baking soda and eggs and mix again until thoroughly combined. Pour into baking pan, bake for 30-35 minutes. Let cake cool completely before serving.
**Substitution: If you don’t have buttermilk you can use 1/2 cup of milk and 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (preferred) mixed together in place of the 1/2 buttermilk listed above. I actually prefer this to using buttermilk.
Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe courtesy of Brenda and Askinosie™ Chocolate from The Food Channel
Cooking time: 12 minutes
Note: Recipe includes the Askinosie™ Chocolate Ingredient: Chocolate Bars (see information above).
4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups butter, softened
1-1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2, 3.4-ounce packages instant vanilla pudding mix
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups Askinosie Dark Chocolate, chopped
2 cups chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together the flour and baking soda, set aside.
In a large bowl cream together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar. Beat in the instant pudding mix until blended. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Blend in the flour mixture. Finally, stir in the dark chocolate chips and nuts. Drop cookies by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes depending on the size of your dough. Edges should be golden brown.