Saturday is Valentine’s Day, but in my home Wednesday was “fake” Valentine’s Day. Yes, that’s what I said, “fake” Valentine’s Day. The concept of “fake holidays started several years ago when my daughter was asked to be the maid of honor at her friend’s destination wedding in St. Thomas during the Christmas break. Not wanting to miss Christmas with her family, I had what we now call “fake Christmas” at my home a few days before she left. All the family members who would normally be at my parents’ home on Christmas Eve came to my house to exchange gifts with Eleni and have a Christmas Eve meal. That was the first of our fake holidays but it wasn’t the last. When you have a daughter with wanderlust it’s bound to happen more than once. And it did. Two years ago she went to Ecuador with her friend for the holidays. Friday she is leaving to visit that same friend, escaping the cold weather for sunny skies and gladly leaving the snow behind. I usually make a special dinner Valentine’s Day weekend and a decadent dessert to go with it, and me being the mom I am, I didn’t want her to miss it, so we had our first “fake” Valentine’s Day. On the plus side, I get to share the recipe in time for anyone who wishes to make it for the “real” day.
Mini Cinnamon Chocolate cakes
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
¾ cup boiling water
2 ¼ cups flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2 ½ sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 2/3 cups sugar
5 large eggs
1 cup Greek yogurt
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a large sheet pan and dust with flour. Line the bottom with parchment paper.
Microwave the chocolate for one minute. Stir and microwave in thirty-second intervals until the chocolate is melted. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, stir together the cocoa powder, cinnamon and baking powder. Pour the boiling water over the mixture and stir until blended. Set aside to cool to a warm temperature.
In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, beat the butter with a mixer for one minute. Add the sugar and beat for another minute. Beat in one egg at a time until blended. Add the cocoa mixture and continue beating. Add the melted chocolate and beat until fully incorporated. Add half the dry ingredients, mix and then add the yogurt and vanilla. Add the remaining dry ingredients until fully blended. Pour the batter into the greased pan and bake for 30- 35 minutes.
Transfer to a cooling rack. When the cake is cool, place the cake on an even surface and use a biscuit cutter to form round mini cakes. Each layer should be about ¾ inch thick. Cut each round to achieve the desired thickness. The cake can be made a day or two ahead and wrapped in saran wrap to preserve freshness. The whipped cream must be made the day the cake will be served.
1 quart heavy cream
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup confectioner’s sugar
In a large chilled bowl beat together on medium speed beat together the heavy cream and cream of tartar. As it starts to thicken add the vanilla and cinnamon. Then add the sugar. Beat until the cream forms stiff peaks.
Fill a pastry bag with the whipped cream. Using the pastry bag top the first cake layer with the whipped cream. Add halved strawberries or the berry of your choice. Top with another cake layer. Repeat the last step. Pipe on the last layer of whipped cream and top with a whole strawberry.