VALENTINE’S WEEK TREATS!

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I never let an occasion pass without doing something to commemorate it. Most of the time, food is involved in some way. Valentine’s Day is the day to show your love for the ones you care for. We naturally think of romantic love, but the love for your children, extended family and friends may also be displayed. Each year, I make a special Valentine’s dinner. Something a bit more elaborate than the average meal, but I place my main focus on creating a mouth-watering dessert. More times than not, chocolate is involved.

I’ve made chocolate soufflés, chocolate lava cakes and chocolate truffles. But some of my favorite recipes use no chocolate at all.

Heart shaped Linzer tart cookies filled with dark cherry preserves is a favorite amongst the family and friends I deliver them to. I sometimes dip one corner in chocolate and garnish them with nonpareils. I packaged each cookie in a cellophane bag and tie it with a pink ribbon.

Red velvet cupcakes are another crowd-pleaser. No need to wait for Valentine’s Day, though. I get requests for these all year long.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

2 ½ cups flour

1 ½ cups sugar

2 eggs

1 ½ vegetable or canola oil

1 ounce red food

1 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons cocoa

1 teaspoon vinegar

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups Greek yogurt

Preheat oven to 350º F. Sift flour, cocoa and baking soda together. In a large bowl, beat sugar and eggs. In a separate bowl, mix oil, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla. Add to egg mixture until combined.  Add the flour and Greek yogurt, alternating dry and wet ingredients, starting with the flour. Pour batter into paper cupcake liners. Bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool on baking rack.

Cream cheese frosting

1 cup unsalted butter

2 – 8 ounce packages of cream cheese

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 pounds confectioner’s sugar

1 vanilla bean (optional)

Cream softened butter and cream cheese. Add sugar and vanilla. If using the vanilla bean, slice the bean longwise and scrape out beans. Mix well into frosting. Fill a pastry bag to frost cupcakes then have fin decorating. Simple sprinkles or chocolate shavings are perfect.

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