By Cathy Branciaroli, Food Correspondent, The Times
Valentine’s day is upon us but don’t stress out. Making the day special can be as easy or as elaborate as you’d like to make it. Simple seems best as the clock is ticking down. And last minute dishes can be just as delightful as something requiring hours in the kitchen.
Knowing that expectations of love for this one single day of the year are entirely unrealistic, the only saving grace of this holiday is the chocolate. And cake. And red fruits such as strawberries or raspberries. Oh and don’t forget chocolate on top of anything. That dreamy, drippy creamy or fudgy topping makes any dish better. As an added plus, Florida strawberries are in all the stores right now, and they are as ripe, tasty and fragrant as you will find all year. Chocolate desserts can be better than a date, especially for longer-married folks like my husband and I.
My suggestions for simple desserts include store bought pound cake drizzled in chocolate, or chocolate covered strawberries served with a bowl of vanilla ice cream. If the mood strikes to prepare something more elaborate how about a molten bittersweet chocolate cake or a pair of heart shaped ice cream sandwiches? Today both of my suggestions for simple dessert involve chocolate sauce, which is a whiz to make. The recipe is adapted from Ina Garten, queen of “easy” when it comes to cooking. To make it, place chocolate chips in a shallow bowl above a steaming pot of water in order to melt them. Then, for the strawberries, pinch the green tops and dip in the melted chocolate. Place on parchment paper to cool. And in a heartbeat the strawberries are ready to serve. For the pound cake, keep the melted chocolate warm until ready to serve and then just drizzle over each slice. This can be served with a dollop of whipped cream and fresh strawberries.
And Valentine’s Day is not just for lovers. Bring the kids into the act with a plate of heart-shaped French toast in the morning or a heart-shaped brownie or chocolate cupcake with pink frosting tucked in their lunch bag. These treats will bring smiles to their faces.
Ina’s Recipe for Chocolate Sauce/Ganache
8 ounces semisweet or dark chocolate chips as you prefer
½ cup heavy cream
1 tsp instant coffee granules
Melt the chocolate chips heavy cream and coffee in a bowl on top of a pot of simmering water till smooth and creamy. Stir occasionally. Serve.
So instead of Happy Valentine’s Day, say Happy Let’s-Eat-Lots-Of-Dessert Day.