Something for Valentine’s Day
With mid-February about to arrive, along comes Valentine’s Day, the day that reminds us to remember the ones we love, as well as that spring is that much closer.
By this time in March, we’ll smell spring and begin to notice some very brave bulbs trying to push their way through the soil.
But for now, with Groundhog’s Day behind us and Punxatawney Phil’s proclamation that at least six more weeks of winter are to come, we can devise some ideas to show our spouses, children and friends that we care for them.
Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to cook up a big pot of soup or stew to help stave off the continued winter cold, or to bake some sweets to enjoy anytime.
Chocolate is a very popular gift because nearly everyone loves it, along with roses or other flowers, and perhaps, for the special woman in one’s life, her favorite scent.
For me, although I love all those ideas, my favorite is some kind of chocolate and a dinner out. For him, he may prefer to eat in. Make that pot of soup with hearty beef, some raspberry muffins, and maybe, a cake that is not only chocolate, but with a chocolate pudding right inside.
For the young ones in our families, cookies are always appropriate. I like to use a simple sugar or butter cookie recipe, sometimes with red food coloring to make them more festive, cut into heart shapes. Sprinkle with plain white or colored sugar, or frost them with butter icing and perhaps a few candy hearts or raisins.
Here is a basic butter cookie recipe that works well as cut-out cookies for nearly any occasion.
Butter Cookies (5 or 6 dozen cookies, depending on size)
1 cup softened butter or margarine
one-half cup granulated sugar
one-half teaspoon almond extract
2 and one-half cups sifted flour
a few drops red food coloring (optional)
dash of salt
In a mixing bowl, beat the softened butter. Gradually add the sugar and salt until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and almond extract. Gradually blend in the flour until a stiff dough results. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour. When ready to bake, line cookie sheets with parchment paper or vegetable spray. Sprinkle flour on waxed paper then roll out the dough with a floured rolling pin to one-eighth-inch thickness. Cut into shapes.
Place on prepared cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool on wire rack, then decorate as desired.
The basic cookie dough can be placed in a cookie press with the desired attachment shapes and cut that way. This recipe may also be baked as a drop cookie by adding one cup cut-up gumdrops (remove the licorice ones) or 1 cup coconut and dropped by teaspoonsful onto the prepared baking sheets.
For the chocolatey pudding cake, grease or spray an 8x8-inch or 9x9-inch baking pan. When cooked, top each serving with a dollop of strawberry or cherry ice cream.
Valentine’s Day Fudgy Pudding Cake (9 servings)
1 cup flour
one-half teaspoon salt
5 heaping tablespoons baking cocoa, divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
one-half cup milk
2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
one-half cup brown sugar
2 cups hot water
Mix together the flour, salt, 2 tablespoons cocoa, baking powder and one-half cup white sugar in a bowl. In a smaller bowl, combine the milk, melted butter and vanilla. Mix into the dry ingredients. Spread into the prepared baking dish. Combine the remaining 3 tablespoons cocoa, half-cup sugar, and brown sugar, and sprinkle over batter. Pour hot water over all. Place in a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes. Serve while still warm with a dollop of ice cream.
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