Treat your Valentine to chocolate this year

There are many ways to use this decadent treat in making holiday meals special for your loved ones

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and homemade goodies are one sure-fire way to your true love’s heart.

And that’s especially true when those goodies are made with chocolate — milk, white or dark, or perhaps a mix.

Chocolate is a tasty treat on its own, one reason you find heart-shaped boxes of them everywhere around Valentine’s Day, but it’s also delicious in traditional desserts such as tortes, cakes and tarts.

To make these dishes special, use small baking pans to create individual servings. Decorate each with red icing or a dollop of whipped cream and place them on a plate that’s been dusted with cocoa or powdered sugar.

You could also present a dish of chocolate cookies, perhaps dipped in a fondue or chocolate sauce to create a decadent dessert. Or maybe dip fresh fruits into chocolate fondue for a fun dessert.

You can also garnish a dessert with chocolate shavings or curls. Use a vegetable peeler with a long, narrow blade and a chunk or bar of chocolate to make curls.

In selecting chocolate, remember one simple rule — the better tasting the chocolate you use, the better the dessert.

Use chocolate you’ve had a chance to try first. Place a piece on your tongue and allow it to slowly melt. If it coats your mouth with a smooth, velvety feel, that’s a sign you’re eating a good piece of chocolate.

When melting chocolate, make sure there isn’t any water on the surface or in the bowl you’re using. If there is, it will likely cause your chocolate to seize.

And take care not to burn chocolate —  that’s one reason it’s recommended to use a double boiler or microwave when melting chocolate. Chocolate is a delicate treat, and it deserves to be treated gently.

When chopping chocolate, use a serrated knife, and when baking chocolate bars, cakes and the like, don’t flour your pan. Instead use cocoa powder, which will give your baked goods an extra dose of chocolate while keeping them from sticking to the pan.

Following are a few Valentine’s Day recipes from and

Gourmet Chocolate Covered Strawberries

10 ounce package semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 pounds fresh strawberries stems attached

Start by washing the strawberries and then drying them VERY well. Line a sheet pan with parchment or waxed paper.

Use a double boiler or microwave the chocolate for 30 second intervals, removing and stirring at each 30 second interval, until the chocolate has melted. Stir often, making sure not to burn the chocolate!

Holding a strawberry by the stem, dip into melted chocolate, lift and twist slightly, letting the excess chocolate fall back into the bowl. Place the strawberry on the parchment paper and repeat with the rest of the strawberries.

Chill the strawberries until the chocolate sets, about 15 minutes.

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Brownies

1 box of brownie mix

2 eggs or as called for on the package

1/2 cup oil or as called for on the package

2 tbsp water

2 cups fresh strawberries diced

4 cups of chocolate chips

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Prepare brownies according to package directions.

Allow brownies to cool fully, then spread strawberries on top in one even layer.

In a microwave safe bowl melt together the chocolate chips and heavy whipping cream. This will take 60-90 seconds and stir every 15-20 seconds. Be careful not to burn! It’s done when it’s just liquid—don’t overcook!

Pour the melted chocolate over the strawberries in one even layer. Allow to cool fully before cutting.

Easy Shortbread Heart Shaped Cookies

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract

2-1/3 cups flour

1/2 cup sprinkles

Add butter, powdered sugar, salt, vanilla extract, and almond extract to the bowl of a large food processor. Process until smooth. Add flour and pulse until mixture looks crumbly and chunky. Add sprinkles and quickly pulse several more times, until the sprinkles are just evenly incorporated.

Turn the dough out onto a large piece of wax paper and form the dough into a log that’s about 14 inches long. Shape the log so that it has three flat sides, giving the ends a triangular shape (the log should look like a long triangular prism).

Wrap the triangular log with the wax paper. Take a wooden ruler (or another long, thin object) and press an indentation into one flat side of the log. Round the edges of that side to form a heart-shaped log. Place the wrapped cookie dough on a baking sheet and freeze for 15 minutes. Fine-tune the shape of the heart (if necessary) and freeze for two to three more hours or until solid.

Place rack in center position of oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove log of dough from the freezer. Allow the cookie dough to come to room temperature for five minutes or until just soft enough that it doesn’t crack or crumble when sliced. Using a sharp knife, cut the log into slices that are approximately 3/8-inch thick. Arrange cookies an inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until cookies just barely turn a light golden color around the edges, between 12 and 15 minutes. Allow to cool on the baking sheets.

Valentine’s Day Conversation Heart Chocolate Bark

Milk, dark or semi-sweet chocolate

White chocolate morsels

Conversation hearts

Optional: Sprinkles

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Carefully melt each of the chocolates over separate double boilers or microwaving in 15-20 second intervals stirring in between to ensure even heating until fully melted and smooth.

Once fully melted, carefully pour melted chocolate onto the center of your baking sheet, then use a rubber spatula to gently smooth out until approximately 1/4-inch thick.

Pour the white chocolate on top of the chocolate in a bit of a zig zag pattern. Take a bamboo skewer (or similar) and use the tip to swirl the two chocolates together.

Then sprinkle your conversation hearts over top of the chocolate before it begins to harden.

Follow up with the heart-shaped sprinkles.

Transfer the baking sheet to the fridge and chill for at least one hour. Remove from the fridge and use the back of a spoon or similar object to smash the bark into pieces

Red Velvet Cheesecake Bites

1 box red velvet cake mix (plus ingredients called for on the box)

16 ounces cream cheese (softened to room temperature)

1/2 cup powdered sugar

3 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Prepare and cook red velvet cake per box directions. In a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat cream cheese and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Add milk and vanilla and beat until stiff peaks form.Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment. Using a small cookie scoop, scoop cream cheese mixture into balls and place onto the prepared baking sheet. Transfer to the freezer to chill, one hour, or until easy to handle.

Remove cake from the oven, let it fully cool. Cut cake in half, place one half of the cake into a large bowl and turn into crumbs.

Once cream cheese balls are chilled, roll in red velvet cake crumbs until fully coated. Then, return to the prepared baking sheet.

Refrigerate for about one hour or until ready to serve.

Death By Chocolate Recipe

Brownie Mix

Instant Chocolate Pudding Mix (cooled completely)

Frozen Whipped Topping

English Toffee Bars

Bake the brownies according to package instructions. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Crumble into tiny pieces.

Prepare the pudding according to package instructions.

In a tall glass, punch, or trifle bowl, assemble the layers in this order: half of the brownie crumbles, half of the pudding, a third of the crushed toffee bars, and half of the whipped topping.

Repeat step three layering until all ingredients are used, ending with the toffee bars.

Chill trifle in the fridge before serving.

Valentine’s Day Hot Chocolate

1-1/4 cup white chocolate chips

1-1/4 cup heavy cream

3-1/2 cup half & half

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 teaspoon red food coloring

Whipped cream for topping

Add heavy cream and white chocolate chips to a medium saucepan. Heat over low-medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate chips have melted completely.

Add half & half and vanilla to the saucepan. Cook until the entire mixture is heated through. Stir in red food coloring and pour into glasses. Top each glass with whipped cream.

Sparkle Sweetheart Cookies

3 cups purpose flour

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

2 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 cup sugar

1 large egg, at room temperature

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

3/4 cup sanding sugar, pink or red

32 chocolate hearts, unwrapped

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together until combined. Set aside.

In a large bowl using a hand-held or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese together on high speed until relatively smooth, about two minutes. Add the sugar and beat until combined and creamy. Add the egg, vanilla extract, and almond extract and beat on high speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed to combine.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low speed until combined. The dough will be thick. Cover dough tightly with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30-60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.

Pour sanding sugar in a bowl or in a few separate bowls.

Roll balls of cookie dough, about one tablespoon of dough per cookie, then roll each ball in the sanding sugar to coat. Place each dough ball two inches apart on the baking sheets. Gently press down on each dough ball to slightly flatten with a spoon or glass bottom. Bake the cookies for 12-13 minutes or until very lightly browned on the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes. Press a chocolate heart into each cookie and quickly stick the baking sheet in the freezer or fridge so the warm cookie does not completely melt the chocolate heart. Let the chocolate set (about 15 minutes) on the cookies in the freezer/refrigerator.

Love Potion Number 9

1/2 cup fresh raspberries, see Note below

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 pint raspberry sherbet

3 cups sparkling berry lemonade

Combine the fresh raspberries, granulated sugar, and lemon juice in a bowl, and mash them together with a fork until you have a berry puree.

Place a generous spoonful of puree at the bottom of 6 glasses. (I used 7 oz French champagne glasses). Top with a small scoop of raspberry sherbet, and fill the cups to the brim with sparkling berry lemonade. Garnish with a few more fresh berries, if desired.

*variation: You can use strawberries instead of raspberries if you prefer, and use any sparkling pink (or clear!) soda that you like.

Limeade Slush Punch

12 ounces frozen limeade concentrate

2 quarts water

2 cups granulated sugar

Cherry 7-UP

In a large pot boil the water.

Stir in the sugar and stir to dissolve.

Remove from heat and add limeade concentrate, stir until combined and dissolved.

Cool to room temperature or just warm.

Transfer to a large freezer safe container and freeze until firm, about six to eight hours.

To serve, scrape the frozen “juice” into a pitcher and add a 2 liter bottle of Cherry 7-UP.

Cherry Amaretto Frosted Brownies

1 box brownie mix of choice

1/3 cup Amaretto liqueur


1/2 cup butter, softened

2 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoon Amaretto liqueur

1 tablespoon maraschino cherry juice

Milk if necessary to thin frosting

Prepare brownie mix according to package directions for 9x13 pan. OMIT water & substitute with Amaretto liqueur. Bake according to package directions and cool thoroughly.

With electric mixer beat butter until smooth and creamy. Add in powdered sugar in 1/2 cup increments, beating thoroughly.

Add in liquids, mixing completely. If frosting is too thick, thin with a tiny bit of milk or more cherry juice.

Spread over top of cooled brownies. Refrigerate if not serving immediately. Top with maraschino cherries if desired.

Sweetheart Sunrise Drink

1 tablespoon Grenadine Syrup

4 ounces Orange Juice

4 ounces 7-Up or similar soda


Fill glasses with ice. Pour ingredients in this order: Orange Juice, soda and ending with Grenadine. Hull the strawberries by cutting a “V” shape to look like a heart shape. Slit the bottom of the heart and garnish on glass edge.



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