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Take chocolate to new heights for Valentine's Day

 

February 11, 2021

Nestlé

Show some love • Want to score brownie points with your loved one? Cocoa-kissed red velvet pancakes will do the trick.

When you think of Valentine's Day treats, chocolate is usually at the top of the list.

But this year, skip the fancy box from the store and make your own chocolate treats. From breakfast to dessert, chocolate is the star of the day.

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Show your affection with a plate of these colorful Cocoa-Kissed Red Velvet Pancakes, featuring rich 100% cocoa, buttermilk and fresh berries. Heart-shaped cookie cutters lend a special touch to these fluffy, flavorful pancakes. Add sweet garnishes like powdered sugar and berries for a sensational way to say "I love you."

Cocoa-Kissed Red Velvet Pancakes

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons baking cocoa

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 large egg

1 cup reduced-fat buttermilk or low-fat milk

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon red food coloring

Heart-shaped pancake cutters or cookie cutters (optional)

Butter, for garnish (optional)

Powdered sugar, for garnish (optional)

Maple syrup, for garnish (optional)

Fresh berries, for garnish (optional)

In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt; stir well.

In separate large bowl, whisk together egg, buttermilk, unsalted butter, vanilla extract and food coloring. Add to flour mixture; stir to combine. Allow mixture to sit 5 minutes.

Heat nonstick skillet or griddle over medium heat. Brush with oil or butter. Add about 1/4 cup batter to skillet. Cook about 2 minutes, or until bubbles start to form on top. Flip and cook 1 to 2 minutes, or until bottom is lightly browned. Serve immediately with butter, powdered sugar, syrup and berries, if desired.

Makes 10 pancakes.

Tip: If using pancake or cookie cutters, be sure to coat with oil so pancakes don't stick. Place cutters in skillet and pour batter into cutters. Remove cutters before flipping.

Recipe from: Nestlé

This recipe for small chocolate bowls is made using blown-up balloons as the mold. Fill the bowls with ice cream and drizzle them with more melted chocolate and garnish with fresh berries. It's a perfect dessert to make your sweetie swoon.

Chocolate Bowls

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Total time: 10 minutes (plus chilling time)

Parchment paper

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1 teaspoon vegetable oil plus additional for brushing balloons

6 water balloons, blown up (no water) and tied (see note)

Ice cream, optional

Fresh berries, optional

Note: Most balloons are made of latex, which can cause an allergic reaction.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a microwave-safe bowl place the chocolate chips and oil. Microwave for 1 minute. Continue microwaving in 30-second increments, stirring in between, or until chocolate is melted.

Lightly brush oil on the balloons opposite the tied end.

Spoon a small amount of the melted chocolate in a circle about the size of a 50-cent piece to create a base.

Dip the lightly oiled end of the balloon in the chocolate so it coats the bottom and about 2 inches up the sides. Set on the chocolate base and press lightly so it holds in place. Repeat with remaining balloons. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill until set. (You will not use all the melted chocolate, but you need that amount to be able to dip the balloons in.)

Pop the balloons and remove and discard the pieces. Fill the chocolate with ice cream, garnish with berries.

Makes 6 (depending on size).

Recipe from: Susan Selasky

Warm chocolate-mango and five-spice caramel sauces are anything but ordinary. For ease, pair them with purchased items for dipping - biscotti, pound cake, fresh berries, whatever inspires you.

And while fondue pots are nice, they aren't essential. You also can offer these sauces in small serving dishes. If they get too cool, just pop them in the microwave for a few seconds.

Fondue Duo of Chocolate-Mango and Five-Spice Caramel Sauces

Start to finish: 40 minutes

For the chocolate fondue:

1/2 cup mango puree (see note)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

3 tablespoons honey

For the caramel fondue:

1/2 cup half-and-half

5 ounces caramels (about 17 to 18 pieces)

1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder

For dunking:

Wafer cookies

Fresh berries

Biscotti

Marshmallows

Pound cake, cut into cubes or sticks

Angel food cake, cut into cubes or sticks

In a small saucepan over medium, heat the mango puree and butter until simmering and the butter has melted. Remove the pan from the heat and add the chocolate and honey. Allow to sit for 2 minutes, then stir with a rubber spatula until smooth. Set aside, but keep warm.

In another small saucepan over medium, heat the half-and-half until it simmers. Add the caramels and five-spice powder, then cook, stirring constantly, until the caramels are melted and the mixture is smooth.

Transfer the two mixtures to 2 small serving bowls. Set on a platter surrounded by the various items for dunking. Alternatively, set up 2 heated fondue pots according to product directions and pour the dipping sauces into those. Serve immediately.

Note: The only slightly unusual ingredient on this menu is the mango puree. It's usually sold in the grocer's freezer section alongside the Hispanic ingredients. If you can't find it, it's easy to make your own. Add about 1 cup of fresh or frozen (thawed) mango chunks to the blender and puree. Strain the puree, then proceed with the recipe.

Makes 4 servings.

Recipe from: Alison Ladman

This decadent red velvet-hued confection is suitable for both Christmas and Valentine's Day.

Red Velvet Truffle Fudge

Preparation time: 10 minutes

12 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate, coarsely chopped

8 ounces white baking chocolate, coarsely chopped, divided

1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

1 tablespoon red food color

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place semi-sweet chocolate and 6 ounces of the white chocolate in large microwavable bowl. Add sweetened condensed milk; mix well. Microwave on HIGH 2 to 3 minutes or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring after every minute. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in food color and vanilla.

Pour chocolate mixture into foil-lined 9-inch square baking pan. Sprinkle with remaining 2 ounces chopped white chocolate.

Refrigerate 2 hours or until fudge is set. Use foil to lift out of pan onto cutting board. Cut into 36 pieces. Store in tightly covered container at cool room temperature.

Makes 18 servings, 2 pieces each.

Note: Stir in 1 cup chopped nuts, such as pecans, walnuts, pistachios, almonds or cashews with the food color and vanilla. A 9-by-5-inch loaf pan may be used in place of the 9-inch square pan. Fudge will be thicker in size.

Recipe from: McCormick

A gooey caramel layer sits atop creamy chocolate fudge. It's so easy that you can make multiple batches for gift-giving.

Caramel Pecan Fudge

Preparation time: 10 minutes

12 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate, coarsely chopped

1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup chopped pecans, divided

12 caramels, unwrapped

Place chocolate in large microwavable bowl. Add sweetened condensed milk; mix well. Microwave on HIGH 2 to 3 minutes or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring after every minute. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in vanilla and 3/4 cup of the pecans. Pour into foil-lined 9-inch square baking pan.

McCormick

Add a little sweetness to your Valentine's Day by making a batch of Red Velvet Truffle Fudge.

Microwave caramels and 1 teaspoon water in small microwavable bowl on HIGH 1 minute; stir until caramels are melted and smooth. Drizzle over top. Swirl with small knife for marble effect. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup chopped pecans, pressing gently into fudge.

Refrigerate 2 hours or until fudge is set. Use foil to lift out of pan onto cutting board. Cut into 36 pieces. Store in tightly covered container at cool room temperature.

Makes 18 servings, 2 pieces each.

Tip: A 9-by-5-inch loaf pan may be used in place of the 9-inch square pan. Fudge will be thicker in size.

Recipe from: McCormick

Terri Hahn of Osceola has worked in food media for more than 30 years and has won numerous state and national awards for her writing.

 

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