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A sweetheart of a day

Whitney, Wikimedia Commons

Top some moist chocolate cupcakes with raspberry icing and fresh berries.


Looks like February 14 is sneaking up on us again.

Might as well be ready with some delicious treats for those who make your life sweeter. Could be a spouse, significant other, kids, grandkids, neighbors or anyone you happen to love or like. Just about everyone appreciates a homemade treat from your kitchen, and don’t forget to save some for yourself.

As always, stay warm and stay safe.

Chocolate raspberry cupcakes

3/4 cup flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs, room temperature

1/2 cup white granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/3 cup vegetable, canola or melted coconut oil

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature

Raspberry buttercream frosting (recipe follows)

1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. Line a second pan with 2 liners — this recipe makes about 14 cupcakes. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt until thoroughly mixed; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, white sugar, brown sugar, oil and vanilla until well blended.

3. Pour half of the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, followed by half the buttermilk. Repeat with the remaining wet ingredients and buttermilk. Do not overmix. Batter will be thin.

4. Pour or spoon the batter into the liners. Fill liners only halfway. Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 21 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Raspberry buttercream frosting

1 cup butter, softened

5 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 clamshell container (6 ounces) fresh raspberries

1. Puree the raspberries then run mixture through a sieve to remove seeds. You should have 1/2 cup of raspberry puree.

2. In a bowl, combine the puree and softened butter and mix with electric mixer on medium speed until thoroughly combined. Add half the sugar and continue to beat on medium speed until well blended.

​3. If the frosting is too thin, add 1/2 cup additional powdered sugar. Keep adding powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time until you have the frosting at the desired consistency. If the frosting is too thick/dry, put a little bit of water in the raspberry puree container that you used and then add this liquid to the frosting 1 teaspoon at a time until you get the desired consistency.

Valentine’s Day cheesecake bars

For crust:

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/3 cup butter, melted

2 tablespoons sugar


24 ounces cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 large eggs

3/4 cup sour cream

Large squeeze of fresh lemon

2 teaspoons vanilla

Pink gel food coloring

1. To make crust: Preheat oven to 325. Place a baking pan filled with water on the bottom rack of the oven. Combine crust ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Transfer mixture to a 9-by-13-inch baking pan lines with parchment paper. Lightly press down on the crumbs and set aside.

2. To make filling: In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until creamy. Add sugar and salt and mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add sour cream, squeeze of lemon juice and vanilla. Mix until all ingredients are smooth and well combined.

3. Transfer 1/2 cup of cheesecake filling into a small bowl. Add pink food coloring to the tint you prefer. Pour white cheesecake filling evenly over the crust, then add the pink and create swirls.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 55 minutes, or until center is no longer very wobbly. Turn off oven, open oven door and allow cheesecake mixture to sit in the open oven for 1 hour. Refrigerate overnight before pulling up on parchment paper and lifting the cheesecake out of the pan. To serve, cut into squares.

Chocolate cherry dump cake

1 can (21 ounces) cherry pie filling

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

2 teaspoons almond extract

1 package (regular size) chocolate cake mix

3/4 cup pecan halves, optional

1 cup unsalted butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 350. In large mixing bowl, mix pie filling, chocolate chips and extract; spread into a greased 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Sprinkle evenly with cake mix and pecans, if using. Drizzle with melted butter.

2. Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the top is set and the filling is bubbly. Serve warm. Makes about 15 servings.

Strawberry snack mix

4 to 6 cups Rice Chex cereal

1 bag (8-oz.) strawberry candy melts, or 1 bag (12-oz.) white chocolate baking chips and 1 box Strawberry Cream Jell-O Pudding mix

Valentine mix M&M candies or sprinkles

1. Measure out the cereal into a large bowl. Note: if you’re using the strawberry candy melts, you will use 4 cups of cereal. If you are using the white chocolate chips and pudding mix, you’ll use 6 cups of cereal.

2. Pour the strawberry melts into a small glass dish. Add 1/2 teaspoon shortening, if desired, to help the candy coat the cereal easier. Microwave for 1 minute 20 seconds. Let sit in the microwave for 3 minutes. Remove and gently stir.

3. If you are using white chocolate chips and pudding mix, add 4 tablespoons of the strawberry creme pudding into the white chocolate and stir gently until smooth. Add 2 drops of red food coloring, if desired.

4. Pour the melted candy mixture over the cereal and stir gently to coat. Transfer cereal mixture to a large piece of waxed paper. Sprinkle with M&Ms or sprinkles (or both). Let cool to set. Break pieces and store in an airtight container. Candy can be made up to 3 to 4 days ahead, if desired. Makes 15 to 20 servings.

Cherry and pretzel dessert

2 cups crushed pretzels

1/2 cup butter, melted

3 tablespoons sugar

1 package (8-oz.) cream cheese, softened

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 container (12-oz.) whipped topping

1 can (21-oz.) cherry pie filling

1. Preheat oven to 350. Mix crushed pretzels, melted butter and sugar together in a bowl; press into the bottom of a 13-by-9-inch baking pan.

2. Bake crust in preheated oven until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove to cool completely.

3. In large bowl, stir cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar together, mixing well. Fold whipped topping with the cream cheese mixture until smooth; spread over the cooled pretzel crust. Spread cherry pie filling over the cream cheese layer. Chill until ready to serve. Makes 25 to 30 servings.

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