By LYDIA BOLEN
Love is all around on February 14. Valentine’s is a special day set aside for gifting of flowers, presents, and sweets to those we love. School parties and special meals are all anticipated. If you plan a meal at home, these three delicious desserts will please adults and children alike.
If time is a pressing factor, try whipping up an easy Strawberry Dessert. This dessert can be assembled at the last minute for guests or a family dinner.
Red Velvet Cake is my husband’s all-time favorite! It is his request for his birthday each year. Our entire family loves it.
Charlotte Russe is a very old recipe originating from France. It is generally made in a mold with ladyfingers and Bavarian cream. Don’t be afraid to make any version of this recipe. Some are easier than others. This chocolate version is easy and will be the highlight of your Valentine dinner.
- 1 cup heavy cream, chilled
- 2 cups strawberries, fresh (or frozen)
- 1-2 Tablespoons sugar, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- A few strawberries, sliced, for garnish
Place chilled heavy cream in bowl of a mixer. Beat until light and fluffy. Don’t over beat. Set aside to chill until ready to use.
Place strawberries in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with sugar and add vanilla. Mash the strawberries, leaving some larger pieces. Let stand for a few minutes.
Add half of the mashed strawberries to the whipped cream, folding in with a spatula. Reserve the remaining strawberries to use when serving.
To serve, spoon the cream into four serving glasses. Top with the remaining mashed strawberries, and another spoonful or two of the cream and a few sliced strawberries. Serve immediately, or place in fridge to chill.
CHOCOLATE CHARLOTTE RUSSE CAKE
- 4 squares unsweetened chocolate
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup milk
- 6 eggs, separated
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 dozen ladyfingers, split
- 1 cup heavy cream, whipped
- Shaved unsweetened chocolate for garnish
Melt chocolate squares in top of double boiler over hot water. Mix granulated sugar, milk, and egg yolks in a bowl and then add to melted chocolate. Cook until smooth and thick, stirring constantly. Cool!
Cream butter, add only 3/4 cup confectioners sugar, and cream the two together. Add chocolate mixture and beat well.
Beat egg whites with salt until stiff; gradually beat in remaining 3/4 cup confectioners sugar and fold into chocolate mixture. Add vanilla.
Line a 9-inch springform pan with split ladyfingers by placing them upright and close together around the inside rim of the pan. Alternate layers of 1/3 mixture and remaining ladyfingers laid flat inside the pan.
Place cake on a serving piece. Open the springform pan and remove it. Garnish with shaved chocolate and whipped cream.
RED VELVET CAKE
- 1 cup vegetable shortening
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1 ounce red food coloring
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, unsweetened
- 2 1/4 cups cake flour
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
- 2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 (32 oz.) package powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare three 8-inch cake pans with nonstick baking spray. (I like Baker’s Joy.) Set aside.
Cream together vegetable shortening, sugar, and eggs. Make a paste of food coloring and cocoa powder and add to the mixture. Add salt, flour, buttermilk, and vanilla to the mixture. Blend in baking soda and vinegar.
Evenly distribute into cake pans and bake 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool cake in pans 10 minutes. Remove from pans to wire rack.
Frost cake layers with Cream Cheese Frosting.