Flowers, cards, chocolates, gifts – Valentine's Day wouldn't feel right without any one of these. But there's always that extra something that makes each year more memorable. Well, this time let it be a scrummy do-it-yourself dessert to add some more sweetness in your relationship. The old adage – 'the way to a man's heart is through his stomach' isn't entirely fallacious, but there's no harm experimenting it on women either.
Here's a selection of 10 tried, tested, applauded and yet simple recipes to choose from. If cooking isn't your forte, you still have plenty of time to experiment and practice. So whip up something and set the romance meter running. And no fret if you don't have a Valentine, prepare something to pamper yourself, as George Bernard Shaw once said, "There is no love sincerer than the love of food".
170 grams semisweet chocolate, chopped 1/2 cup whipping cream 1/4 cup milk 2-1/2 tablespoons granulated white sugar 2 tablespoons corn syrup 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon brandy (optional) Method: Combine the cream, milk, sugar, and corn syrup in a saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Remove from heat and pour over the chopped chocolate. Whisk until smooth. Stir in vanilla extract and brandy. Place the chocolate sauce in a fondue pot and serve with fresh fruits, chunks of cake and cookies. Reheat the sauce if it becomes too thick.
1/2 cup unsalted butter 170 grams semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
3 eggs, separated
1/3 cup granulated white sugar plus 1 tablespoon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar Method: Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Generously butter 3/4 cup (180 ml) ramekins and dust the insides with granulated white sugar; Place these on a baking sheet. Using a double boiler, melt the butter and chocolate. In your electric mixer beat the egg yolks and sugar until thick and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract and the chocolate mixture.
In another bowl whip the egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to whip until soft peaks form. Gradually add 1 tablespoon of sugar and whip. Gently fold the beaten whites into the chocolate mixture. Do not over mix or the batter will deflate. Pour the batter in the prepared ramekins, filling about 3/4 full. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the outside edges of the cakes are set but the middle still looks a little wet.
Remove from oven and let them rest for a minute. Run a knife around the edge of each cake and then invert onto each serving plate. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream on top of each warm cake. (Note: You can prepare the batter in advance. Bake just before serving.)
3 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
1/3 cup cold water
2 cups unsweetened pomegranate juice
2/3 cup granulated white sugar Method: Sprinkle the gelatin over cold water. Let it sit until the granules are swollen and spongy. In a saucepan, stir the pomegranate juice and sugar until dissolved. Add the gelatin into the hot juice and place over low heat. Stir until the gelatin dissolves. Do not boil. Remove from heat and let cool for about 10 minutes before pouring equal amounts serving glasses. Refrigerate until set. Serve with whipped cream or custard and cherries.
300 gm (1 package) frozen pound cake, thawed
3/4 cup strong brewed coffee
1 cup cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup chocolate syrup
1 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped
A few chocolate cookies Method: Cut cake into nine slices. Arrange in an ungreased 11 x 7 inch. dish, cutting to fit if needed. Drizzle with coffee. In a small bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add chocolate syrup. Fold in whipped cream. Spread over cake. Sprinkle with crushed chocolate cookies. Refrigerate until serving.
1 cup fresh raspberries
2/3 cup whipping cream
3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon lime juice Method: In a small bowl, mash the raspberries; stir in 1-2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar and lime juice. Cover and refrigerate until chilled. In a small bowl, beat cream until it begins to thicken. Add remaining sugar; beat until stiff peaks form. Fold into raspberry mixture. Spoon into dessert dishes. Garnish with a fresh raspberry and a mint leaf.
Strawberry Lavender Sorbet
5 cups strawberry
3/4 cup sugar
1-1/4 cups water
6 fresh lavender heads Method: Place the sugar and water in a saucepan and bring it to a slight boil until all the sugar has melted. Remove and cool slightly and add the lavender flowers. Let stand for an hour. Hull the strawberries and slice them. Puree the strawberry in a blender and then strain it along with the lavender syrup. Freeze for 4 hours and then remove the lavender. Beat it in a processor until smooth and then place it back in the freezer for another 4 hours, or until firm. Scoop out and serve.
1 cup pecans or walnuts
2 cups vanilla wafer cookies, finely crushed
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 1/2 tablespoons corn syrup
1/4 cup bourbon Method: Preheat oven to 177 degrees C; Put the pecans on a baking sheet and bake for a few minutes, or until lightly browned and fragrant. Let cool completely and then finely chop. Process the cookies in your food processor until finely chopped. Mix the crumbs with the pecans, sugar, cocoa powder, corn syrup and bourbon and stir until combined. Chill the batter and then shape into 1 inch balls. To serve, roll the balls in sugar, finely chopped nuts, or cocoa powder.
Cranberry Applesauce Sundae
1/4 cup cranberry sauce
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 pinch ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
2 cups vanilla ice cream
Pecans, chopped and toasted Method: In a microwaveable bowl, warm the apple and cranberry sauces together in the microwave for about 1 minute. Stir in the cinnamon and orange peel. Divide half of the cranberry and half of the applesauce among sundae dishes. Top each with two scoops ice cream. Dollop with more cranberry-applesauce, some whipped cream and some pecans.
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 pinch salt
3 cups milk
¼ cup semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 teaspoons vanilla extract Method: In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch and salt. Whisk in the milk and bring to a boil, stirring, over medium-high heat. Lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring, until thickened, about five minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the chocolate and vanilla until smooth. Serve warm or chilled.
Strawberries and cream
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
1/3 cup whipping cream
2-3 tablespoons granulated white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract Method: Using a knife cut a 'cross' in each strawberry such that it opens up but does not fall apart. With your fingertips, gently spread each strawberry apart. In a bowl, whip mascarpone cheese, whipping cream, sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Spoon the cream into a pastry bag fitted with a large open star tip. Pipe the cream into the strawberries. Place in the refrigerator until serving time.