With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, Cupid would like to see you whip up something sweet for your loved ones. Sure, you can grab a brownie mix at the grocery store (he’ll give you a few points for that), but wouldn’t it be nice to try something a little more daring?
Here, some sweet ideas for stirring up a little lust in the kitchen:
• GET ROLLING Gayle Harte of the renowned Gayle’s Chocolates in Royal Oak is eager to show you how to make your own chocolate truffles. Visit http://www.craftsy.com/class/Dipped-Dusted-and-Rolled-Handmade-Chocolates/54 to learn about the secret of Harte’s hand-made goodies. She has spent more than than 30 years working with chocolate and invites you to join her online in an extra-special “Dipped, Dusted & Rolled: Handmade Chocolate Truffles” class.
• IN THE MOOD FOR MANGOS Jan Kemp, healthy eating specialist for Whole Foods Market reported that she likes to experiment with avocados and mangos in her desserts. Really! “I recently made the most delicious ‘Health Starts Here’ recipe,” Kemp said, “for chocolate pudding.”
“Health Starts Here” is Whole Foods’ special program that features recipes and ideas that focus on healthy eating. For the chocolate pudding recipe, Kemp used frozen mango instead of the banana it calls for.
“It takes just minutes to make," Kemp said, "and is super sweet and very romantic.”
The recipe is below. If you want to try Kemp’s version, she used 1 avocado, about ½ cup of frozen mango, ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 4 large pitted Medjool dates (California grown) from bulk (“I didn’t soak them, just used my Vitamix (a high-performance blender)”), and about 1 teaspoon vanilla.
“I’d top each with one frozen mango piece and a few slices of strawberries. Very decadent.”
(From Whole Foods. "A fabulous dessert, with no added oil or refined sugar, but packed with flavor," Kemp said. Serve with berries.)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup dates, pitted, soaked in water for a few hours, drained
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Combine all ingredients in a food processor until smooth, scraping down sides of the bowl as needed. Transfer to a bowl or individual serving bowls and chill several hours before serving.
• VERY CHERRY When Michelle White was a little girl growing up on Cass Lake in Keego Harbor, she enjoyed nothing but fresh vegetables and fruits. She literally grew her passion for healthy foods into a fulltime business, moving to northern Michigan’s cherry country. These days, White produces Michelle’s Miracle cherry concentrate (also available in pill form). The cherry concoction brims with vitamins that help counter joint pain, sleep issues and more. For Valentine’s Day, White recommends mixing up a cherry-based topping for a simple pound cake.
Cherry Chocolate Covered Pretzels and Pound Cake
(From Michelle White of Michelle's Miracle. “Serve with a glass of Michelle’s Miracle Tart Cherry Concentrate and soda water or add vodka for a little adult kick,” White suggested.)
3 tablespoons Michelle’s Miracle Tart Cherry Concentrate (available at Whole Foods, Plum markets and other specialty grocery stores)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons milk
1 tin or loaf of plain or vanilla pound cake (Sara Lee brand works well), cubed
Melt all but pretzels and pound cake slowly stirring constantly on low heat. Dip pretzels and pound cake cubes into chocolate/cherry mixture, place on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and refrigerate for at least an hour.
• NICE & SMOOTH Gladiola Ulqinaku, co-owner of Everyday Yoga in Clawson, says it’s all about chocolate for V Day.
“I always say that chocolate is not only a taste but also a feeling, so my favorite romantic recipe would include chocolate,” she says. One of her top picks is a chocolate panna cotta that features a splash of amaretto and both white and dark chocolate garnishes.
Try this and you and your lovebird will feel like your perched in a café somewhere in Italy’s romantic countryside.
Chocolate Panna Cotta
1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoon instant dark chocolate powder
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon amaretto
Pinch salt, pinch of red pepper (for a kick)
1 small white chocolate bar, for garnishing
1 small dark chocolate bar, for garnishing
Place the milk in a heavy, small saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatin over and let stand for 5 minutes to soften. Stir over medium heat just until the gelatin dissolves, but the milk does not boil, about 2 minutes. Add the cream, amaretto, chocolate powder, sugar, salt and red pepper. Stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves, about 3 more minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Pour the cream mixture into 2 martini glasses. Cover and refrigerate at least 6 hours and up to 2 days.
When ready to serve, use a vegetable peeler or just a knife on the chocolate blocks to create about 1 tablespoon each of the white and dark chocolate shavings (like curls). Sprinkle the shavings over each panna cotta.