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Easy treats for your sweet Valentine

Feb 10th, 2011 | Category: Cooking

by Doris Borman

Valentines Day. The special day of love in mid-February evokes flowers, cards, romantic dinners, and well, chocolate. For many, this little holiday is not complete without some chocolate treats or sweets – a long-time favorite for gift-giving

From the decadent, classy truffles made by some chocolatiers to the simple cookies baked by your loved one, there is something for everyone with a sweet tooth. But for those wanting to make a personal, edible gift, here are a few recipes, all fairly easy.

Fudge makes a great Valentine treat that can come in all shapes, sizes and flavors. But when time and ingredients are lacking, we use a simple fudge batter of a total of three ingredients – peanut butter, chocolate and honey. The recipe is dairy free and does not call for added sugar, so this is what some folks like to call “low fat fudge.” Call it what you will; it’s easy and delicious.

I prefer to use the honey roasted peanut butter from Bellewood Acres in Lynden. It’s not only local and delicious, but the texture adds to the silkiness of the batter. The honey comes from a local producer or neighbor, while the chocolate can be milk or dark, in chips or pieces.

Simply combine and melt the ingredients in a saucepan over low-medium heat, and spread into an 8×8 pan. Refrigerate over night or for several hours until firm, and cut into small pieces. (If out too long, the fudge can become a little gooey, so be sure to give to your loved one cold.)

Fudge made of three simple ingredients: local honey, Bellewood Acres peanut butter and chocolate. PHOTO BY BECCA SCHWARZ COLE

This fudge is a great base recipe, meaning you should add on as you like. It tastes sweet and simple as is, but adding other ingredients like nuts or coconut adds to the texture and flavor.

Sugar cookies are always easy and delicious. The recipe calls for a pink frosting that is dye free; the pink color comes from the rich red colors of the local strawberries that have been stored in the freezer since last summer. This recipe can also be made vegan, just substitute the butter and egg for replacer of your choosing.

Another idea is to take your favorite shortbread cookie recipe, but transform this Christmas holiday favorite into a romantic treat by using a heart shape cookie cutter and coating with chocolate and hazelnuts. A simple, yet decadent combination, the sweet buttery cookie combined with the rich chocolate and crunchy hazelnut coating is a beautiful gift for a special someone. We use hazelnuts from Holmquist Orchards in Lynden, as well as locally made butter.

Last but least is the chocolate mousse. Any romantic dinner can be ended with a delicious, creamy chocolate mousse. A friend gave me this recipe several years ago, and it is one that has been used each and every year. This is a wonderful dessert with your loved one that can be garnished with whipped cream, chocolate shavings and/or strawberries. I tell you, there will be no leftovers. It is that good! I do however recommend using only a high-end chocolate (visit Chocolate Necessities for different types of chocolate). Make it rich, make it good, make it memorable.

Fudge in Three Parts

• 1 cup Bellewood Acres honey roasted peanut butter
• 1 cup chocolate, melted
• 3/4 cup honey

In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients over low-medium heat. Stir until thoroughly combined and heated through. Be careful not to burn.
Spread the fudge batter into an 8×8 inch pan. Refrigerate over night, or several hours until firm. Cut into small squares.

Pink Heart Sugar Cookies

• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 3/4 cup white sugar
• 1 egg or replacer
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 3/4 cup butter or replacer

• 8 ounces strawberries
• 1/4 cup granulated sugar
• 3 tablespoons butter or replacer
• 3 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In a bowl combine the flour and salt. In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar, adding the egg and vanilla. Blend well. Add the flour mixture and blend just until combined.
Cover the dough with plastic and refrigerate two hours or until firm.
On a floured surface, roll out dough to a 1/4 inch thickness. With a heartshape cookie cutter, cut dough and place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until slightly golden, being careful not to brown. Cool on a wire rack.

For the frosting, start this at the same time you start the cookie batter as this will need refrigeration as well. Defrost strawberries and slice. Place in bowl and sprinkle with the sugar and toss well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Drain excess juices from strawberries. Beat butter  in bowl until smooth, adding sugar and strawberries. Beat until fluffy. Add more powdered sugar, as needed, until the frosting is of good spreading consistency.  Spread over the cookies.

Creamy Chocolate Mousse

• 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
• 1 tablespoon water
• 1 egg yolk (or replacer), lightly beaten
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1/2 cup whipping cream
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• Whipped cream for topping

In a saucepan, melt chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl over simmering water. Stir until smooth. Place a small amount of chocolate mixture into egg yolk in a separate bowl. Add all of it to the saucepan, stirring constantly. Cook and stir for approximately two minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla. Cool, stirring several times.
In a mixing bowl, beat whipping cream until it begins to thicken. Add the sugar and continue beating until soft peaks form. Fold in the cooled chocolate mixture.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Garnish with whipped cream, chocolate shavings, and/or strawberries if desired.

Doris Borman lives in Whatcom County and loves chocolate.

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