Bless Your Spoon: Love folks with chocolate

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 10, 2022

By Stephanie Williams Dean

Wondering what homemade, baked goodie you’re going to prepare for Valentine’s Day? Well, don’t. I’ve got you covered — covered in chocolate, that is.

Surprise your loved ones with an irresistible chocolate dessert — from decadent, chocolate-butter cream-filled, layered cakes to fresh fruit dipped in I Love You Fondue. Treat your sweetheart to any one of these treats. Your scratch baking will speak in taste what you want to say in words, and you won’t need Cupid’s arrow.

You know, Valentine’s Day is all about loving folks. The Bible tells us that when we’re fruitful, we have the fruit of the spirit within us — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These fruits are the work of the Holy Spirit within us, and the greatest one is love. Our spirit produces these qualities in us, much like qualities in Christ. When we bear fruit, we can better love God and our neighbors.

You know that old saying, “love ‘em to death with chocolate” — well, let’s kill ‘em with kindness this Valentine’s Day, and every other day, as well. But first, while we’re at it, I want you to wrap your arms around yourself. Give yourself a big hug — and squeeze tight. Let’s be kind to and love ourselves, well. All too often, we don’t do enough of that.

Today’s recipes call for premium chocolates — Hershey’s cocoa and Bakers solid chocolate. Both produce a fine, decadent taste or you can use more premium brands. But you’ll sacrifice that rich flavor if you use generic brands of chocolate. Trust me, I learned the hard way.

And my goodness, just a kiss of liqueur never hurts anyone!

If you’re going to do it, do it with pizzazz.

Chocolate Buttercream-Filled Layer Cake

• 1 stick softened, salted butter
• 1 cup sugar
• 2 egg whites
• 1 tsp. vanilla extract
• 1 2/3 cup cake flour
• 2 tsp. baking powder
• ½ cup whole milk

Chocolate filling
• 2 oz. melted semi-sweet chocolate
• 1 stick softened, salted butter
• 2 egg yolks
• Pinch salt
• ½ cup light cream
• 5 cups confectioners sugar
• 2 Tbsp. Kahlua (optional)

Chocolate icing
• 2 Tbsp. salted butter
• 3 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
• 1 tsp. vanilla extract
• ¼ cup boiling water
• 1 cup confectioners sugar

For the cake, in a mixer bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in vanilla and egg whites. Beat in flour and baking powder while alternating with milk until smooth and well blended. Beat on high for 3 minutes. Pour into two well-greased 9-inch round cake pans. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 20-25 minutes. Cool and turn out on rack. When completely cooled, split each layer into two layers. For the filling, melt chocolate and allow to completely cool. In a mixer bowl, cream butter, egg yolks, and salt. Beat in cream and cooled chocolate. Add confectioners sugar a little at a time while beating. Add Kahlua and beat at high speed until thoroughly creamed and smooth. Place layers together with filling, starting and ending with cake layer. For the icing, in a saucepan, melt butter and chocolate. Add water and vanilla. Mix well. Beat in confectioner’s sugar until makes glossy, spreadable icing. Frost top and sides with icing.

Romantic Torte a la Noir

• 1 lb. pre-baked pound cake
• 4 oz. chopped English walnuts
• 6 oz. premium chocolate sauce/syrup
• 1 1 /2 Tbsp. cognac
• 1½ Tbsp. Kahlua or coffee liqueur
• 1 pint whipped cream
• ½ tsp. vanilla extract
• ½ pint whipped cream
• ¼ tsp. vanilla extract

In a mixer bowl, with your hands, break cake into bite-sized pieces. Don’t cut with a knife. Add nuts to cake. Add chocolate syrup, cognac, coffee liqueur. Gently fold into cake mixture. Add whipped cream and vanilla. Gently fold into cake mixture. Turn into greased cake pan 10 x 10 x 2. Add ¼ tsp. vanilla to ½ pint of whipped cream. Spread evenly over top of cake mixture. Drizzle with premium chocolate sauce. Make one day in advance and refrigerate overnight.

Be Mine Layered Chocolate Dessert

• 1 stick softened salted butter
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• ¾ cup chopped pecans

Cream cheese layer
• ½ cup heavy whipped cream
• 8 oz. softened cream cheese
• 1 cup confectioners sugar

Chocolate layer
• 1 cup sugar
• 1/3 cup Hersheys unsweet cocoa powder
• 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
• 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
• Pinch of salt
• 3 large egg yolks
• 2 cups whole milk
• 2 Tbsp. melted butter
• 2 tsp. vanilla extract

Cream topping
• 1 cup heavy whipped cream
• 1/3 cup chopped pecans

For the crust, in a saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour until blended. Stir in pecans. Press evenly into butter greased bottom of a 8 x 8 baking pan. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 20 minutes. Cool. For 2nd layer, in a mixer bowl, beat cream until stiff peaks form. In another bowl, beat cream cheese and confectioners sugar until smooth. Fold in the whipped cream and beat on low just until blended. Spread over cooled crust. For third layer, in a saucepan, whisk together sugar, cocoa powder, flour, cornstarch and salt. Whisk in egg yolks and milk until smooth and well blended. Cook while stirring on medium for 8 minutes until thickened and boils. Stir in butter and vanilla until melted. Remove from heat, cover with waxed paper on top and allow to cool for 30 minutes. When cool, spread chocolate mixture over cream cheese layer. Cover with waxed paper and refrigerate for 3 hours until firm (you can make all this part a day ahead). For fourth layer, in a mixer bowl, beat heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Spread over the top of chocolate mixture. Sprinkle with nuts. Cut into 8 squares and lift out with spatula.

Rock Your Baby Cradle Cakes

• 2 beaten egg whites
• ¼ tsp. salt
• ½ tsp. vinegar
• ½ cup sugar
• ¼ tsp. cinnamon
• ¼ tsp. instant coffee
• ½ cup ground pecans

• 6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
• 2 beaten egg yolks
• ¼ cup water
• ¼ cup instant coffee
• ¼ tsp. cinnamon
• ¼ cup sugar
• 1 cup whipped cream

For the cradles, in a mixer bowl, beat egg whites. Add salt and vinegar and beat until soft peaks form. In a bowl, combine sugar, cinnamon and instant coffee. Blend mixture into egg whites 1 Tbsp. at a time. Beat until stiff peaks form. Fold in nuts. Draw 6 3-inch circles on brown paper. Place papers on cookie sheet and grease each. Pipe meringue onto circles. Bake in a 275-degree oven for 1 hour. Turn oven off but do not open oven door for at least 2 hours. For the filling. Melt chocolate, making sure not to burn. Spread 2 Tbsp. over bottom of meringues. To the remaining chocolate, add beaten yolks, water, coffee, cinnamon, and sugar. Heat until hot but don’t burn. Chill until cool but not set. Whip cream and fold into chocolate mixture. Mix well. Spread over meringues. Decorate with chocolate curls. Chill until ready to serve. Serves 6.

Chocolate-Butter Nut Sugar Pies

• 2 beaten eggs
• 1 cup sugar
• ½ cup sifted all-purpose flour
• 1 stick melted, salted butter
• 1 tsp. vanilla extract
• 6 oz. chocolate chips
• 1 cup chopped pecans
• 1 pre-baked pie shell
• Whipped cream

In a mixer bowl, beat eggs. Add sugar and flour. Mix well. Add vanilla, chocolate chips, and pecans, mixing well after each ingredient is added. Pour into cooked pie crust. Bake in a 325-degree oven for 1 hour. Cool before cutting. Top with whipped cream.

Luscious Chocolate Pot Du Crème

• ¾ cup whole milk
• 1 egg
• 1 tsp. sugar
• 6 oz. chocolate chips
• 1 tsp. almond extract
• Whipped cream
• Brandy, vanilla, sugar

In a blender, add egg, sugar, chocolate chips and almond extract. In a saucepan, bring milk just to a boil. Pour over ingredients in blender. Blend on high speed for 3 minutes Pour into individual cups/ramekins. Refrigerate 5 hours or until set. Serve topped with whipped cream that’s been flavored with brandy, vanilla and sugar to taste. Serves 6.

Sweethearts Chocolate Molten Cakes

• 2 Tbsp. melted, salted butter
• 2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
• ¾ cup melted salted butter, cut up
• 3 (4 oz.) melted, semi-sweet chocolate bars, cut up
• ½ cup whipping cream
• 1¼ cup egg substitute (no real eggs)
• ¾ cup sugar
• 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
• Confectioners sugar

Using a 16 muffin cup baking tray, brush cups thoroughly with melted butter. Sprinkle bottoms evenly with cocoa. Shake out any excess. Refrigerate 1 hour. In a saucepan, melt butter and chocolate (Bakers). Do not use chocolate morsels. When melted, slowly whisk in cream. Set aside. In a mixer bowl, beat egg substitute and sugar for 7 minutes or until slightly thickened. Beat in chocolate mixture and flour until blended. Fill buttered muffin cups ¼-inch from tops with batter. Cover and chill for 8 hours. Bake uncovered in a 450-degree oven for 10-11 minutes or until edges of cake spring back with touched but centers are still soft. Allow to stand 3 minutes before loosening edges with a knife. Quickly invert cakes onto a baking sheet. Transfer to dessert plates with a spatula. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve immediately.

Hot Fudge-Rum Dessert Sauce

• 3 Tbsp. salted butter
• ½ cup light brown sugar
• ½ cup granulated sugar
• 1 cup light corn syrup
• ½ cup Hershey’s cocoa
• ½ tsp. salt
• ½ cup light cream
• 1 tsp. vanilla extract
• 1-2 Tbsp. rum

In a saucepan, melt butter on medium heat. Add sugars and corn syrup and stir until dissolved. Stir in cocoa and salt. Mix well. Fold in cream, vanilla, and rum. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook 7 minutes. Serve while hot over ice cream or on a dessert plate with dessert in center.

Be My Valentine Candy Confection

• 2½ cup crushed vanilla wafers (60 wafers)
• 1 cup sifted, confectioners sugar
• 2 Tbsp. Hershey’s cocoa
• ¾ cup finely chopped walnuts
• ¼ cup light corn syrup
• ¼ cup white Crème de Menthe
• Granulated sugar

In a mixer bowl, combine crushed wafers, confectioners sugar, cocoa and walnuts. Stir in corn syrup and Crème de Menthe. If the mixture is too crumbly, add a few drops of water. Form into 1-inch balls. Roll balls in granulated or confectioners sugar. Store tightly in covered container. Serve with after-dinner hot coffee drinks.

Old Fashioned Girl’s Chocolate Pie

• 1/3 cup whole milk
• ½ stick salted butter
• 1½ cup sugar
• 2 oz. Baker’s semi-sweet chocolate
• 2 level Tbsp. all-purpose flour
• 3 beaten egg yolks
• 2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
• 1 pre-baked 9-inch pie shell or 6 tart shells

In a saucepan, melt butter and chocolate. When melted, add sugar, flour and milk to chocolate mixture. Cool completely. In a bowl, beat eggs. Add eggs to cooled chocolate mixture. Return to stove and cook on medium heat without burning until thickened. Cool and fold in vanilla. Fill a baked pie shell or tarts and top with meringue or whipped cream. Refrigerate.

Chocolate Lover’s Gourmet Cheesecake

• 8½ oz. crushed thin chocolate wafers
• ¾ cup melted butter
• ¼ tsp. cinnamon
• 12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate morsels
• 2 lbs. softened cream cheese
• 2 cups sugar
• 4 eggs
• 3 tsp. Hershey’s cocoa
• 2 tsp. vanilla extract
• 2 cups sour cream
• Whipped cream

In a bowl, combine crushed wafers, melted butter and cinnamon. Press into bottom and up sides of a large springform pan. Refrigerate. In a saucepan, melt chocolate making sure not to burn. Set aside. In a mixer bowl, beat softened cream cheese until fluffy and smooth. Beat in sugar. Mix well. Beat in eggs, one at a time, making sure to combine thoroughly after each addition. Add cooled, melted chocolate, cocoa and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Fold in sour cream and blend well. Pour into chilled crust. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 70 minutes. Cool and then refrigerate at least 5 hours. Top with a dollop of whipped cream.

I Love You Fondue

• 6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
• ½ cup granulated sugar
• ½ cup whole milk
• ½ cup smooth or crunchy peanut butter

In a saucepan, melt chocolate and dissolve sugar in milk. When melted, stir in peanut butter. Mix well and heat. Put ingredients in a fondue dish. Maintain low heat while serving. Serve with bananas, strawberries, other fruits, marshmallows, cake cubes, etc.