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For Valentine’s day? Chocolate, of course

By Deirdre Parker Smith

deirdre.smith@salisburypost.com

It’s time for that holiday again, the one with the hearts and flowers and, of course, chocolate!

Oddly, Valentine’s Day this year just happens to be Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, which means some of us (like me) need to be praying and fasting.

I’ll have to save my chocolate binge for the weekend.

Most of these recipes are not time-consuming, and something you can throw together for Valentine’s Day, for others, or just for yourself.  The cheesecake is several steps, so you may not have time for that just now. It’s a keeper, though, for any chocaholic.

Buttermilk Chocolate Cake with Frosting

1 cup butter

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup water

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 large eggs

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 cups sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp. salt

For the frosting

1 cup butter

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/3 cup buttermilk

1 (16 oz.) package confectioners sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9-by-13-inch pan.

Combine 1 cup butter, 1/3 cup cocoa and 1 cup water in a small saucepan and heat over low heat, stirring constantly, until butter is fully melted. You can cut the butter into pieces to speed up the process. Remove from heat.

Using an electric mixture, beat buttermilk, eggs, baking soda and vanilla until smooth. Gradually add melted butter mixture, beating until mixed.

In a medium bowl, combine sugar, flour and salt. Add to buttermilk mixture and beat until blended. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until set in the middle. The batter will be runny.

To make frosting, combine remaining butter, cocoa and buttermilk in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and stir in confectioners sugar and vanilla. Pour over cake while cake is still warm. Let frosting cool and set before slicing.

This is an old recipe which yields a moist cake. Try not to eat the entire thing in one sitting. Delicious with a strong cup of coffee. From Spicy Southern Kitchen.

You like pudding? Then you will love Pot de Créme, a thicker, more decadent version, and not hard to make.

Chocolate Pot de Créme

2/3 cup whole milk

1 large egg

2 Tbsp. sugar

Pinch of salt

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 Tbsp. dark rum or bourbon

In a small pan, heat milk over medium heat until it just starts to boil.

While the milk is heating, place egg, sugar, salt, chocolate chips and alcohol in a blender or food processor and pulse a few times until the chocolate chips are broken up a bit.

When milk boils, remove from heat, turn the blender or food processor on low and slowly pour the hot milk through the lid opening.

Blend about 1 minute or until smooth. Pour into serving cups or dishes. Refrigerate several hours. Makes four servings.

Serve with whipped cream, raspberries or shaved chocolate or a combination of all. Serve chilled with a glass of red wine, port or champagne.

From the Gastronomblog.com

And speaking of decadent, this triple chocolate cheesecake will flood you with chocolate flavors, plus, it’s really not complicated.

Chocolate Lover’s Cheesecake

For the crust

24 Oreo cookies

1 Tbsp. granulated sugar

1/4 cup melted unsalted butter

For the filling

32 ounces (four 8 oz. blocks) cream cheese, at room temperature

1 1/4 cups plus 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar

1/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder

4 eggs at room temperature

10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled to lukewarm

For the topping

3/4 cup heavy cream

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

1 Tbsp. granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch springform pan.

Blend the cookies and sugar together in a food processor until the cookies are finely ground. Add the melted butter and process until the crumbs are evenly moistened. Press mixture evenly onto the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and set on a wire rack while preparing the filling.

Blend the cream cheese, sugar and cocoa powder in the food processor until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, about 30 seconds. Add the eggs one at a time, blending for 10 seconds each. Add the melted chocolate and blend to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl once. Pour the filling into the crust and smooth the top.

Bake the cheesecake until the center is just set and the top looks dry, 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Run a thin knife around the sides of the pan. Place the cake in the refrigerator, uncovered, for at least 8 hours, or overnight.

To make the topping, stir the cream, chocolate and sugar in a medium saucepan over low heat until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Cool until slightly warm and pour over the center of the cheesecake, spreading to within 1/2 inch of the edge. Chill for at least 1 hour.

Again run a thin knife around the sides of the pan and remove the outer ring. Transfer the cheesecake to a serving platter. Let stand for 2 hours at room temperature before serving.

— Browneyed Baker

If you want something simple that you can whip up in a hurry, try these brownies with Bailey’s Irish Creme. It’s a great excuse to buy some Bailey’s and the brownies will be even more delicious served with a sip of the stuff on the rocks.

Bailey’s Brownies

1 stick unsalted butter

2-3 squares baking chocolate

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 cup flour

1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream Liqueur

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter and baking squares in a microwave safe bowl. In the mixing bowl, cream the melted butter and chocolate mixture. Add in sugar and vanilla and beat until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add in eggs, beating one at a time. Add flour and stir until just combined. Stir in Bailey’s.

Pour into a greased 9-by-13-inch baking dish or a 10-by-10-inch square pan. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until barely done.

— How Sweet Eats

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