Treats for your Valentine
Homemade brownies are welcome any time of year, but especially so on holidays.
Spring is trying very hard to make its appearance. I went out on the deck a couple of days ago to prune my thornless blackberry vines and noticed dozens of daffodil plants in one of the half barrels. They were already about 6 inches tall, so that shows you how often I go out on the deck during winter. The daffodils had been buried under a layer of snow.
When I took a close look at the blackberry vines, I noticed they were already starting to make new growth. So, no big surprise that Valentine’s Day is well within sight. I don’t celebrate it but I am in the minority, so I am happy to share some recipes that could fit right in to that holiday. The year is already going too fast. I miss my Christmas tree.
Cat’s favorite brownies
6 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons shortening
9 tablespoons cocoa powder (See note)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
Note: 3 ounces of unsweetened chocolate may be substituted for the 3 tablespoons shortening and 9 tablespoons cocoa.
1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8-inch square pan.
2. In medium saucepan, melt butter and shortening. Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients, stirring well.
3. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until dry on top and almost firm to the touch (center may look slightly undone).
4. Cool about 15 minutes before cutting into squares.
White chocolate cereal mix
3 cups Wheat Chex cereal
3 cups Rice Chex
3 cups Cheerios
3 cups M&M candies, divided (in colors such as red, pink and white)
1 1/2 cups pretzels
1 cup honey roasted peanuts
5 cups white chocolate chips
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening
Red, pink and white colored sprinkles, optional
1. In a large bowl, combine all of the cereals, pretzels, peanuts and 2 cups of the M&Ms. Mix evenly.
2. Over a double boiler, melt the white chocolate chips, along with the vegetable shortening. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the cereal mixture and then stir with a wooden spoon. Mix gently until everything is evenly coated with the chocolate.
3. Place a length of parchment paper on the countertop and spread the mixture evenly on the paper. Sprinkle with the remaining cup of M&Ms. Add sprinkles, if desired. Let the mixture cool for about 1 hour. Break into pieces and store in an airtight container. Makes about 14 servings.
Valentine milk shakes
1 cup vanilla ice cream (See note)
3 tablespoons red velvet cake mix
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup milk
Note: You can also use ice cream that is flavored like birthday cake batter, if you wish.
1. Blend all ingredients until smooth and serve immediately. Makes 2 servings.
Cherry cheesecake cupcakes
30 vanilla wafer cookies
3 packages (8-oz. each) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Cherry pie filling
1. Preheat oven to 350. Using a mixer, cream together the softened cream cheese, sugar, eggs and lemon juice until smooth. Set aside.
2. Line a muffin tin with muffin cups. Add a vanilla wafer to the bottom of each cup.
3. Fill the muffin cup about 3/4 full with the cream cheese batter. (This recipe makes about 30 cupcakes, but you should bake them one tray at a time so they all bake evenly.)
4. Bake each tray separately in preheated oven for 20 to 22 minutes each.
5. Let the cupcakes cool. The centers of the cupcakes will sink while they are cooling. When the cupcakes are cooled, add a scoop of cherry pie filling to the center of each cupcake. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.