So, has your Valentine’s Day sugar rush worn off yet? If you were to sneak a peek at the list of chocolate industry-supporting holidays, Valentine’s Day would probably be right up there near the head of the pack. For weeks (since before Christmas in some stores) we’ve been inundated with chocolate hearts in every size, flavor, shape, and color, to the point that they all started to look the same and kind of lost their appeal! (Don’t get me wrong- I like a good piece of chocolate as much as the next girl, but given a choice, I generally prefer my sweets in the form of baked goods.) As the holiday rapidly approached and our household pestilence slowly receded, I realized that it was WAY past time to plan for my holiday baking. Thank goodness for Pinterest!
First on the list was my oldest son’s class Valentine’s Day party. Cupcakes, fruit, and all of the other party basics were already covered by the other fabulous room moms, but we have a few kids with allergies to consider, so I usually plan to make something egg/nut/corn syrup-free so that everyone can share the sugar high. My first plan was to bake up some of these Chocolate-Dipped Brownies from Sweetapolita, using egg replacement powder instead of real eggs. I baked up a test batch on Monday morning (I’m still leery of the whole fake egg thing), and they were great! After a day of cutting out PTA Valentine’s hearts, I raced home and threw together a triple batch. That’s when something went tragically and inexplicably wrong, resulting in three trays of very pretty brownies that were hard as bricks on the bottom. (My best guess would be that baking, doing mental math, and negotiating preschool peace treaties at the same time is just a BAD idea and should never be attempted.) By the time that I discovered the problem after an evening of prepping Valentines and cutting out red paper hearts, it was about 3am, so I called it a night and decided to try again in the morning.
Down to the wire and suffering from a severe case of sleep deprivation, I decided to skip the brownies and move on to my (untried and untested) back-up recipe, these fabulous Meltaway Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting that I discovered via Pinterest over at Landee See, Landee Do. Thankfully, the baking gods were smiling that morning, so the cookies were fabulous! (Please note that there are only two cookies on that plate- that was all that was left for a picture out of a double batch by the time my camera battery charged. Yes folks, they were that good.)
Meltaway Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 C Butter
- ¾ C Cornstarch
- ¾ C Powdered Sugar
- 1 C Flour
- 1 Recipe Cream Cheese Frosting (see below)
- In a medium bowl, cream butter until fluffy.
- Add cornstarch & sugar and blend well.
- Beat in flour until thoroughly mixed.
- Drop by small teaspoons (a cookie scoop worked well) onto a parchment-covered baking sheet & flatten out with the bottom of a glass. (You’ll need to dip the glass in powdered sugar to prevent sticking. If you’re making these for yourself, smooshing them down by hand works well, too!)
- Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
- Cool on wire rack & frost with Cream Cheese Frosting. For the classroom cookies, I simply frosted each cookie and added a dash of red sugar. Once that quota was filled, I started to play around with the remaining cookies and decided that I liked them even better sandwiched together with a dollop of frosting in the middle as well as the bit on top!
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 (3oz.) Package Cream Cheese, softened
- 1 C Powdered Sugar
- ½ t Vanilla Extract
- Mix all ingredients together.
- Color with food coloring if desired.
After an afternoon packed with baking, class parties, and WAY more sugar than I should ever consume in a 24 hour period, it was time to grab the kids and run for home so that I could prep our Valentine’s Day dinner. I’d been pondering dessert for a week or so, because I try to do something special each year, and it was a really tough choice! Normally I go for something that’s high on the chocolate level, like a flourless chocolate cake or a chocolate cheesecake, but this year I decided that I wanted something a bit lighter to follow what is inevitably a big meal eaten later in the evening.
After careful consideration, I settled on a Chocolate Angel Food Cake recipe that I found in the November/December of Cooking with Paula Deen. (Side note- I JUST received the November/December issue last Friday. GO APO MAIL!) It was a nice, easy recipe to put together, and definitely a departure from our norm. The chocolate taste was subtle, almost overwhelmed by the cinnamon (I’d probably cut the cinnamon in half next time around), but what struck me as odd was the faint taste of coffee when there’s no coffee in the mix! I served it up with a drizzle of chocolate and caramel syrups, a puree of strawberries and raspberries, fresh berries, and both plain and chocolate whipped cream (to make the chocolate cream, just add a dash of Ghirardelli sweetened cocoa powder to the whipped cream near the end). It would probably also be very good with ice cream and hot fudge, or in a trifle with chocolate mousse and berries!
Paula Deen’s Chocolate Angel Food Cake with Mocha Sauce
Makes 10-12 Servings
- 12 Egg Whites at room temperature
- 1 t Cream of Tartar
- 1/4 t Salt
- 3/4 C Granulated Sugar
- 1 1/2 C Confectioner’s Sugar
- 1 C Cake Flour
- 1/4 C Cocoa Powder (Paula says Dutch process, but we had Hershey’s- you know how that goes…)
- 1/4 t Cinnamon (I might cut this to 1/8 t next time)
- Mocha Sauce (I didn’t use this since my husband isn’t a huge coffee fan, but I’ll include it for you all, just in case- it probably compliments the mysterious coffee flavor in the cake quite nicely!)
- Preheat oven to 375* F
- In a large bowl, beat egg whites until foamy.
- Add cream of tartar and salt, and beat until soft peaks form.
- Gradually add granulated sugar, beating until stiff peaks form.
- In a small bowl, combine confectioner’s sugar, flour, cocoa, and cinnamon. Sift. (I’m bad, I hate sifting with a passion, so I didn’t do this- I just fork fluffed…)
- Gently fold cocoa mixture into egg white mixture until combined.
- Spoon batter into an ungreased 10″ removable-bottom tube pan.
- Bake for 32-35 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Remove from oven.
- Immediately turn the pan upside down, and place on the neck of a funnel or wine bottle to cool completely. (This keeps the cake from sinking. I didn’t quite believe it until I saw it, but the cake actually stays in the pan quite nicely while balancing upside down on a wine bottle!)
- Gently run a knife around the outer edge of the pan to release the sides. Remove the cake from the pan by pushing up on the removable base, and then run a knife along the inner edge and bottom as needed to release the cake from the base.
- Serve with warm Mocha Sauce (or berries, ice cream, hot fudge, whipped cream…), if desired.
Warm Mocha Sauce
Makes 1 Cup
- 1 C Chocolate Sauce (Paula recommends Hershey’s)
- 1 T Instant Espresso Powder
- In a small saucepan, heat chocolate sauce over low heat.
- Add espresso powder, stirring until dissolved.
And there you have it, our official 2012 Valentine’s Day sugar rush! Aside from the brownie catastrophe, everything turned out just the way I wanted it, so I’d call the holiday a success. The only real problem that I ran into was that I was so tired by the time that I’d cooked and eaten dinner, given everyone their Valentines, and gotten the kids settled, that I fell asleep on the couch while my husband took a work call- BEFORE DESSERT! Luckily, the cake stayed safely balanced overnight on that wine bottle, and it’s just as good the second day…
One final note- if you created something special for Valentine’s Day, head on over to Sew BitterSweet Designs for the Valentine’s Day Showcase link party! Melissa has thrown the floor open to her readers, and three lucky winners will win some fabulous prizes for linking up to their Valentine’s Day creations. Definitely too good to miss!