By Barbara Beltrami
There’s no day like Valentine’s Day to conjure up sweet talk, sweet sentiments in sweet cards and everlasting promises of eternal love and/or imminent romance. Those who subscribe to its traditions take them very seriously. Those who do not scoff at what they call the holiday created by the greeting card industry. Norman Rockwell-ish as it may be, there is something sweet about the old-fashioned image of a man holding a sumptuous bouquet of red roses and presenting a huge heart-shaped box of chocolates to his sweetheart.
Which brings me to another thing. No matter how Valentine’s Day is observed, or not observed, like any holiday, it provides an excuse for capitulating to that sweet tooth in all of us, that secret valentine of the appetite.
Raspberry-Chocolate Linzer Cookies
2¹/₃ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1½ sticks unsalted butter at room temp.
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract
2 cups chocolate chips, melted over boiling water
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time; add the extracts and beat to thoroughly combine. With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat the dry mixture into the wet one. Gather the dough into two even pieces, enclose in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm and solid.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 F. On a flour-dusted board roll out one piece of the dough to ¹⁄8-inch thickness and using approximately a 2½-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out cookies and place on cookie sheet. Re-roll any scraps to form solid pieces for more cookies. Repeat procedure using second half of dough, except this time use a 1-inch round or heart-shaped cutter.
Bake cookies for approximately nine minutes and remove from oven just as they start to brown. With spatula, remove from cookie sheet and place on rack. When cookies are cooled and crispy, spread a level half teaspoon of melted chocolate on each large cookie; top with a level half teaspoon jam and carefully place another cookie on top. Dust tops with confectioners’ sugar and place on tiered or flat cookie plate. Serve with coffee, tea, milk, hot chocolate or dessert wine and, of course, love.
YIELD: Makes 8 servings
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup water
5 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In the top of a double boiler combine the chocolate, sugar and water, stirring occasionally; heat until the chocolate is melted. Beating hard after each addition, while the double boiler is still over the heat, add the egg yolks, one at a time. Remove mixture from over the hot water and set aside to cool while you beat the egg whites until stiff. In a large bowl, gently fold the egg whites and vanilla into the chocolate mixture. Distribute the mousse evenly among eight sorbet or wine glasses and refrigerate covered overnight or at least 10 to 12 hours. Serve with whipped cream, fresh strawberries and delicate wafer cookies.
YIELD: Makes 2½ cups.
1 pound sweet fresh or frozen and defrosted cherries, pitted
½ cup water
¹⁄₃ to ½ cup light corn syrup (depending on tartness of cherries)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Fresh squeezed lemon juice, to taste
Kirsch liqueur, to taste
In a small saucepan, over medium heat, combine the cherries, half the water and the corn syrup and bring to a boil. With a wire whisk, stirring constantly, blend the cornstarch and remaining water with the cherry mixture. Over medium heat, cook until clear, about one minute. Add lemon juice and kirsch. Serve warm over vanilla or chocolate ice cream, sponge cake, angel cake, pound cake or cheesecake.