By Mark G. McLaughlin

Valentine’s Day is a day custom-made for desserts. The boxed chocolates are nice, but to complete a romantic dinner at the end of the day, nothing says “I love you” like a special dessert. Here are just three easy-to-make Valentine’s Day themed treats that will add that extra something on the most romantic day of the year, and which will make that sweet day even sweeter.

Chocolate Cheesecake

Cheesecake is already one of the richest, creamiest and most sensuous desserts there is, but it does lack that Valentine’s Day touch – unless you make it with chocolate. A chocolate cheesecake is the perfect Valentine’s dessert, as every bite is filled with romance and the promise of something even more delightful to come.

As this cheesecake is exceptionally rich, this recipe serves up to 20.

Ingredients:

  • 2 packages of chocolate cookies (about 8-9 ounces each)
  • 16 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups sour cream
  • 1 ½ pounds of cream cheese
  • 1 ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 ½ cups of butter
  • ¼ cup of sweet butter
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • (optional for topping: whipped cream, chocolate shavings)
  • 9-inch springform pan.

Preparation:

  1. Melt the butter and sweet butter and keep them separate. Melt the chocolate. Let the cream cheese soften.
  2. Crush the cookies. This can be done by putting them in a plastic storage bag and pounding them with a potato masher or going over them with a rolling pin. This should produce two cups of crumbs.
  3. Take a nine-inch springform pan (this will make a pie shell for the cheesecake).
  4. Mix the crushed cookies, cinnamon and half a cup of the melted butter. Pour into the spring form pan and then press the mixture firmly into the sides and bottom of the pan. Set in the refrigerator to chill.
  5. Combine the eggs and sugar, beat until fluffy. Gradually add the softened cream cheese, beating the mixture as you go along. Add in the melted chocolate, vanilla, sour cream, cocoa, and melted sweet butter. Beat and mix as you go along. Pour into the chilled pie shell.
  6. Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven, let cool and then refrigerate overnight. Remove from springform pan and decorate (if desired) with whipped cream and shaved chocolate (but sparingly, as this is already a very rich and creamy dessert).

Chocolate Filled Almond Heart Cookies

Hearts are what Valentine’s Day is all about. This recipe takes the heart theme to the world of filled cookies. The filling here is chocolate, as that is the signature flavor for Valentine’s Day, but a vanilla cream, lemon cream or jam filling will do. This recipe will make three dozen (36) cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ¾ cups sifted flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup of chocolate chips
  • Blanched almonds
  • ¾ cup butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

You will also need a rolling pin, a cookie sheet and either a heart-shaped cookie cutter or some template to cut out the heart shapes.

Directions:

  1. Let the butter soften, then cream it.
  2. Mix the sifted flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl combine the sugar and the creamed butter. Beat until fluffy. Beat in 2 of the eggs and vanilla.
  4. Add in the bowl of dry ingredients and beat until smooth. Chill for one hour in the refrigerator.
  5. When ready to make the cookies, roll out to 1/8” thickness and cut in heart shapes.
  6. Beat the third egg with a fork. Brush the egg on half of the cookies (these will be the tops). Place an almond sliver on each.
  7. Bake all cookies (tops and bottoms) for 8-10 minutes at 375 degrees
  8. Melt the chocolate chips.
  9. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool.
  10. Spread the melted chocolate on the bottom cookies. Top each with one of the decorated cookie tops.

Heart-shaped Kahlua Cake

A little alcohol often makes Valentine’s Day all the more special, but that does not mean it has to be served in a glass. This Kahlua cake has a nice little kick and is even more special when shaped like a heart. A heart-shaped pan makes this even easier, but a steady hand and a cardboard template (like the heart-shaped box the candies come in) will do in a pinch. This cake makes up to eight servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 5 ounces of semisweet chocolate
  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 tablespoons Kahlua
  • 4 eggs
  • 8-inch heart-shaped cake pan (or larger if cutting the heart shape by hand)
  • Plastic or rubber spatula

Preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F
  2. Soften the butter and separate the eggs.
  3. Melt the chocolate
  4. Place the softened butter into a mixing bowl and beat until creamy. Beat in almond extract, egg yolks and sugar, and continue beating until the mixture is fluffy. Add in the melted chocolate and Kahlua beat until well blended.
  5. Pour one-fourth of the egg whites into a small cup, and then add the contents to the batter.
  6. Fold in the remaining egg whites (fold, don’t beat)
  7. Sift the cake flour and add the flour to the batter. Do NOT beat! Mix well, preferably with a plastic or rubber spatula.
  8. Butter and flour the cake pan. Pour in the batter. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
  9. Remove the cake from the oven. Let cool on a rack for an hour.
  10. Decorate the cake as desired. This can be with a frosting of your choice, whipped cream, cherries or just powdered sugar, or serve with ice cream.

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