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We’ve taken to eating completely differently since Jan. 2, and it is helping.

But Valentine’s Day is Valentine’s Day and even we need a little treat.

So one of the tricks I have employed in the last six weeks involves baking, because I love to do it and I’m not willing to give it up. But now I share more generously more quickly. In other words, bake that thing, enjoy one small, realistic portion, and then get rid of the rest. Soon.

Here are two options for dessert on Valentine’s Day. One is perfectly portioned for two. The other is portioned for your office. Do not confuse the two.

My daughter the blogger made me cry last week when she wrote that I always made the “little” holidays feel special when they were growing up with decor, special treats and small gifts.

If Valentine’s Day is not a time to spoil the ones you love, I don’t when would be.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Bread Pudding for Two

2 ounces semisweet chocolate

½ cup half-and-half cream

⅔ cup sugar

½ cup 2 percent milk

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon salt

4 slices day-old bread, crusts removed and cut into cubes (about 3 cups)

Confectioners’ sugar or whipped cream, optional

In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate; stir until smooth. Stir in cream; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the sugar, milk, egg, vanilla and salt. Stir in chocolate mixture. Add bread cubes and toss to coat. Let stand for 15 minutes.

Spoon into two greased 2-cup souffle dishes. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

If desired, sprinkle the bread pudding with confectioners’ sugar or top with a dollop of whipped cream. Serves 2.

Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

1-½ cups cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookie crumbs

2 tablespoons butter, melted

4 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened

1-¼ cups sugar

1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

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3 eggs, lightly beaten

9 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

½ cup seedless raspberry preserves

Topping:

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

Fresh raspberries and whipped cream, optional

Place a greased 9-inch springform pan on a double thickness of heavy-duty foil (about 18 inches square). Securely wrap foil around pan. Combine cookie crumbs and butter; press onto the bottom of the prepared pan.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in sour cream and vanilla. Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined. Set aside 1-1/2 cups; pour remaining batter over crust.

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate; stir in preserves until blended. Stir in reserved batter just until blended. Drop by tablespoonfuls over the plain batter (do not swirl). Place springform pan in a large baking pan; add 1 inch of hot water to larger pan.

Bake at 325 degrees for 65 to 75 minutes or until center is just set and top appears dull. Remove springform pan from water bath. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen; cool 1 hour longer.

For topping, place chocolate in a small bowl. In a small saucepan, bring cream just to a boil. Pour over the chocolate; whisk until smooth. Cool slightly. Spread over top of cheesecake. Refrigerate overnight. Garnish with the raspberries and whipped cream if desired. Remove sides of pan. Serves 16.

(Recipes from “Best Loved Recipes,” Taste of Home)

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Community News Editor

Sally Ann Shurmur arrived at the Star-Tribune to cover sports two weeks after graduating from the University of Wyoming and now serves as community news editor. She was raised in Laramie and is a passionate fan of Cowboys football, food and family.

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