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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Valentine's Day Recipes

Linzer Heart Cookies Preparation Time: 1 hour plus chilling Bake Time: 10 to 12 minutes Makes about 1 1/2 dozen cookies Ingredients: 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened 1 cup granulated sugar 1 large egg 1 teaspoon vanilla extract Confectioners’ sugar 1/2 cup raspberry jam, strained 1. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer set on medium, beat the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy; beat in the egg and vanilla. Gradually add the flour mixture until combined. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill 1 to 2 hours or overnight. 2. Preheat the oven to 350F. On a lightly floured surface, roll half of the dough to an 1/8-inch thickness. Using a 2 1/4-inch heart cutter, cut out heart shapes, rerolling scraps as needed. Repeat with the remaining dough. 3. Place the heart shapes 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Using a small heart cutter, cut out centers from half of the hearts; remove the centers with a small spatula. 4. Bake the cookies until lightly browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and cool completely. 5. Set the racks, with cookies still on them, over waxed paper. Sift confectioners’ sugar over the heart frames. Lightly spread about 1/2 teaspoon of the strained jam over the large uncut hearts. Place the heart frames on top of jam-topped cookies. Tip: Baking Times The heart frame cookies will take less time to bake than the uncut hearts. Check the cookies after just 8 or 9 minutes and remove any cookies that are done. Variations Instead of raspberry jam, you can use strawberry—or whatever flavor strikes your fancy. For chocolate lovers, replace the jam center with melted semisweet chocolate. When set, drizzle more melted chocolate on top of the confectioners’ sugar. Brownie Heart Tartlets Preparation Time: 45 minutes Bake Time: 15 minutes Makes about 3 dozen tartlets Ingredients: 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1/3 cup granulated sugar 1/4 cup cocoa powder 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter 3 tablespoons milk 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted 1 tablespoon butter, melted 1/3 cup brown sugar 1 egg Confectioners’ sugar Mini candy hearts 1. Preheat the oven to 350F. In a food processor, combine the flour, granulated sugar and cocoa and process until blended. Add the butter and process until the mixture is crumbly. Add 2 tablespoons milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla; process until a dough forms. 2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a 1/4-inch thickness. Using a cookie cutter or a glass with a 2 1/2-inch diameter, cut out rounds of dough. Reroll scraps as needed. 3. Carefully press the rounds into the cups of heart-shaped mini muffin pans. Trim off excess dough by gently pressing a dull knife along the tops. 4. In a medium bowl, combine the melted chocolate, melted butter, brown sugar, egg, remaining 1 tablespoon milk and remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla. Spoon 1/2 teaspoon of the filling into the dough shells in each heart cup. 5. Bake the tarts until the filling has set, about 15 minutes. Transfer the pans to a wire rack to cool slightly. Carefully remove tarts from the pans; cool completely. Decorate the cooled tarts with confectioners’ sugar and candy hearts. Tip If the rounds of dough tear, don’t panic! Just press the pieces together when placing the dough into the muffin cups. Variation Dress up these tarts even more by piping whipped cream along the edges and topping with a cherry. Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries Preparation Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 10 minutes Makes 9 berries Ingredients: 2 ounces semisweet chocolate 1 tablespoon butter 9 large strawberries with caps or stems 1/4 cup cognac or orange juice 2 tablespoons honey 1 cup sour cream 1. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper; set aside. Heat the chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler set over simmering water, stirring, until melted, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Let cool slightly. 2. Holding the strawberries by the cap or stem, dip one at a time into the chocolate mixture, coating halfway. Gently place the berries on the lined baking sheet; let coating set. 3. Meanwhile, make the dipping sauce. In a small pan, simmer the cognac and honey until reduced slightly, about 5 minutes. Cool briefly, then fold the mixture into the sour cream in a small bowl. When the chocolate is set, arrange the strawberries on a serving plate. Serve with the dip. Tip Don’t refrigerate the dipped berries or the coating will “sweat” and become mushy. Molten Chocolate Cakes Preparation Time: 15 minutes Bake Time: 15 minutes Makes 12 individual cakes Ingredients: 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) butter 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips 4 medium eggs 1/2 cup sugar 3/4 cup all-purpose flour 12 caramel candies 4 tablespoons evaporated milk 1. Preheat the oven to 325F. Grease 12 muffin cups. 2. Combine the butter and chocolate chips in the top of a double boiler set over simmering water. Cook, stirring constantly, until the chocolate is melted. Let stand to cool slightly. 3. In a large bowl with a mixer set at medium, beat the eggs and sugar until thickened, about 5 minutes. Gradually add the flour, beating at low speed. Add the chocolate mixture and beat until thick and glossy, about 3 minutes. 4. Fill the prepared muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake the cakes for 5 minutes. 5. Meanwhile, combine the caramels and 2 tablespoons evaporated milk in the double boiler. Cook, stirring constantly, until the caramels are melted. 6. After baking the cakes for 5 minutes, spoon 2 teaspoons of the caramel mixture into each muffin cup. Bake for 8 minutes longer. Invert cakes onto individual serving plates. 7. Stir the remaining 2 tablespoons evaporated milk into the remaining caramel mixture. Serve the sauce with the warm cakes. Tip: Microwave Option To melt the chocolate chips and butter in a microwave oven, use the Defrost setting and microwave, stirring the mixture occasionally, for about 4 minutes.