I always get sentimental around Valentine’s Day. I remember being a kid in grade school, hoping I’d get some Valentine cards from my classmates, particularly Bobby Simpson when I was in second grade. And it was always fun watching my boys when they were that age choose special cards for their Valentines. Times change, but the message is the same. Anybody can be your Valentine, so remember those folks who have lent a helping hand, or who may just need cheering up. Send them a funny kid’s card with a note and if you can, share one of these recipes with them. Chocolate rules!
Cappuccino mocha pudding cake/aka upside down pudding cake
If you’re making this for kids or someone who doesn’t like coffee flavor, just leave out espresso. The fun thing about this is you learn a bit of food chemistry: the hot chocolate sauce is poured over the top of the cake batter, and as the cake bakes, the pudding sinks to the bottom while the cake batter rises to the top!
2 cups flour
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
2 teaspoons instant espresso coffee powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 cup chopped toasted walnuts or other nuts (opt)
1 cup milk
4 tablespoons melted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
Preheat oven to 350. Spray 9×13 pan. Whisk flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking powder and sugar together. In separate bowl, whisk milk, butter and vanilla. Add this to dry ingredients and blend. Pour into pan.
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1-3/4 cup very hot water
Mix sugars and cocoa. Pour water over and whisk. Pour ever so gently and evenly over batter. Pudding will look quite thin but gets thick after it bakes and sits a bit. Bake 30-35 minutes or until center is set and just firm to touch. Don’t over bake or you won’t get much pudding!
Diabetic chocolate lover’s cheesecake
I remember this recipe from friend and former colleague, Joanna Lund, founder of Healthy Exchanges.
1 pound fat free cream cheese, room temperature
4 serving package sugar free instant chocolate fudge pudding mix
2/3 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1 cup water
1/4 cup Cool Whip Lite
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 chocolate flavored piecrust, 6 oz.
2 (2-1/2” squares) chocolate graham crackers, crushed
2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips
Stir cream cheese with a spoon and add pudding mix, milk powder and water. Mix well using a whisk. Blend in Cool Whip and vanilla. Spread into crust. Sprinkle cracker crumbs and chips over top. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.
Serves 8. Each serving: Calories 215, Fat 7 gm, Protein 26 gm, Carbs 644 mg
Easy chocolate fondue
This can be made ahead and reheated. Serve with chunks of fruit, cake, etc.
I like to ladle some out for the kids before adding liqueur.
4 cups chocolate chips, your choice (24 oz. approx.)
1 cup whipping cream, unwhipped
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla or 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Liqueur: start with 2 tablespoons and go from there (opt) – I used orange liqueur
Put chips, cream and milk in pan. Whisk over low heat until chips are melted and mixture is smooth. Stir in vanilla and liqueur.
Tips from readers’ kitchens:
Tortellini soup update. Sandy, a loyal reader, made the tortellini soup with spinach and used a 19 oz. bag of tortellini and found it was way too much for the quart of broth. She decided to add more broth, which worked. Sandy asked me to specify how much tortellini to put in. I would say start with 2 cups tortellini and go from there.
John Pancoast’s eggplant casserole. Mary Lou K. made this healthier by substituting whole wheat crackers for the topping and low fat yogurt for the whipping cream. “It was very delicious and would make a great main dish, though we had it with trout and considered it our vegetable and starch”, she said.