Each February 14, more than a billion dollars is spent on chocolate. Where did the idea of Valentine’s Day and chocolate come together? It is believed by some that chocolate has been used as a gift since the days of the Aztecs. They believed it was a source of spiritual wisdom and energy. It’s been said forever that chocolate is an aphrodisiac, containing high levels of endorphins which have been linked to falling in love.
And, while not a health food, dark chocolate is said to be high in flavanols, which can lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol levels. And since February is American Heart Month, there is no reason to skimp. It’s all good.
But what is even better is a homemade chocolate something. Baking a treat for your loved one is a great way to give a personal – and cost-effective – gift this year.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be a pastry chef or even an expert home baker to create something delicious and full of love. With an easy-to-make recipe and a few baking tips, even the cooking-challenged can create something special.
Keep these simple baking tips in mind:
* Follow recipes as precisely as possible. Seasoned bakers may succeed with experimentation, but if you’re new to baking or not confident of your improvisational skills, sticking to the recipe should yield the best results.
* Measure all ingredients carefully. A tablespoon too much or too little of any ingredient can make a big difference in a recipe.
* Be careful with oven temperature settings. Don’t try to speed baking with a temperature higher than what the recipe calls for. If the recipe specifies different temperatures for different types of baking dishes, be sure to choose the setting that matches your type of bakeware.
* Resist the temptation to remove baked goods from the pan, dish or sheet right away. Allow baked goodies to cool for the amount of time prescribed in the recipe. Rushing it could result in crumbling or cracking.
Armed with these tips, try surprising your sweetheart this year with something baked from the heart.
Best Red Velvet Cake
Amazing cake with a not-too-sweet frosting
1 C vegetable shortening
1 ½ C sugar
1 tsp cocoa powder
2 ounces red food coloring
2 ½ C cake flout
1 tsp salt
1 C buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp Vinegar
2 Tbsp flour
1 C milk
1 C unsalted butter
1 C confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
In the bowl of a mixer, cream together the shortening, eggs and sugar. In a separate small bowl, mix together the cocoa and food coloring. Add the paste to the shortening mixture. Sift the flour and salt together over parchment paper. Add to the batter alternately with the buttermilk in three additions. Add the vanilla extract. Fold in the baking soda and vinegar. Pour the batter into two greased 9-inch cake pans. Bake for 30 minutes or until an inserted cake tester comes out clean. Let cool on a cooling rack. Invert the cakes from the pan.
Frosting: Over medium heat, cook the flour and milk until thickened. Let cool (this part is very important!). In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Beat in the flour mixture. Frost the top of the first layer with frosting and set the second layer on top. Frost the entire cake with remaining frosting.
Kraft’s Simply Sensational Truffles
20 oz Semi-Sweet Chocolate, divided
1 pkg. (8 oz.) Cream Cheese, softened
Melt 8 oz. chocolate as directed on package. Beat cream cheese with mixer until creamy. Blend in melted chocolate. Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm.
Shape chocolate mixture into 36 balls; place on waxed paper-covered rimmed baking sheet.
Melt remaining chocolate. Use fork to dip truffles in chocolate; return to prepared baking sheet. Add decorations as desired. Refrigerate 1 hour.
The BEST Brownies
(as easy as a mix and SO much better)
1 C butter
2 C white sugar
2 tsp vanilla extgract
2/3 C unsweetened cocoa powder
1 C flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
2 (1 oz) squares of unsweeted baking chocolate
½ C butter
6 Tbsp milk
3 ½ C powdered sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, Grease and flour a 9×13” baking pan.
In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Remove from heat and stir in sugar, eggs and vanilla. Beat in cocoa, flour, salt and baking powder. Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes. Do not over bake.
Frosting: Combine unsweetened chocolate, butter and milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat when chocolate is melted and stir. Beat sugar, salt and vanilla until smooth. Frost the cooled brownies.
Chocolate Lover’s Cake
1 boxed chocolate cake
¾ C chocolate milk
1/3 C butter, melted
8 oz sour cream
1 small box of chocolate instant pudding
1 bag of chocolate chips
¾ C Chocolate chips
3 Tbsp Butter
3 Tbsp corn syrup
1 ½ tsp water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a bundt pan.
With a spoon, mix first six cake ingredients in a bowl. Stir in chocolate chips. Bake in the bundt pan 56-64 minutes. Cool ten minutes in the pan; cool for two hours after inverting on a cooling rack.
For the Glaze, heat all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat until the chocolate chips are melted. Drizzle over cooled cake.