Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Treats To Make for Your Someone Special

Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest days of the year for restaurants. If you don’t book your reservation weeks in advance, you will find it nearly impossible to get a table as the day approaches. It can feel like trying to find a spot at a bar on the day of the Super Bowl - chaotic. But who doesn’t want to celebrate this day with a significant other? 

The surest way to avoid all of this commotion is to opt for a gourmet meal prepared right in the comfort of your own home. Not only do you avoid wait times and crowded spaces, but cooking with your significant other can be a lot of fun. What better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than with a delicious meal you’ve prepared yourself? Besides, your home will surely be a more intimate setting than a crowded restaurant. However, don’t forget the sweetest part of Valentine’s Day dinner - dessert!

Even if you do decide to eat out, there’s nothing like coming back home to a delightful treat paired with a glass of your favorite rosé. So go ahead and treat yourself and your special someone with a scrumptious dessert. Whether you prefer a quick and easy no-bake recipe or you’re in search of a decadent cake, here are a few delicious recipes so you can end your Valentine’s Day on a sweet note.

Red Velvet Cheesecake
This is a more complex recipe that takes a few hours to chill, so you may want to start by making dessert first. It delivers 20 servings, so you’ll have the opportunity to indulge for days!
Ingredients: 

Optional:
  • Powdered sugar
  • Chocolate leaves
  • Fresh raspberries or small strawberries
  • Cocoa powder - unsweetened

Prep time: 45 minutes
Bake: 1 hour
Cool: 1 hour
Chill: 4 hours
Steps:
  1. Start by melting your ½ cup of butter and 1lb of chocolate in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Once you’re done, transfer it to a bowl and allow it to cool.
  2. Mix your chocolate pieces, wafer cookies, brown sugar and almonds into a large food processor and bring them to a fine ground.
  3. Add ½ cup of melted butter into the food processor and mix it in completely.
  4. Move the crumbs over to a 10x3 inch springform pan that has a removable bottom. Firmly press the crumbs onto the bottom and sides of the pan. Make sure to leave ½ inch of space at the top of the pan, and set this aside.
  5. Now for your filling! In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat your cream cheese, sugar, sour cream, buttermilk, cooled chocolate mixture (from step 1) and red food coloring. Use medium to high speed until everything is completely combined.
  6. Add the 4 eggs and 2 egg yolks to your mixture and use low speed to beat until they are combined.
  7. Pour your mixture into the crumb-crust pan you set aside, and place the springform pan into a shallow baking pan on your oven rack.
  8. Set your oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit and bake for 1 hour or until 2 inches of the outside edge appears set when you gently shake it.
  9. Take the springform pan away from the baking pan and cool your cheesecake for 15 minutes on a wire rack. 
  10. Using a metal spatula, loosen the cheesecake from the sides of the pan and let it cool for 30 additional minutes. Remove the sides of the pan, let it cool for one more hour, chill it for at least 4 hours, and voila! 

If you’d like, use the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, chocolate leaves and your fresh fruit to garnish your cake. 

Vegan Chocolate Mousse
This is a fairly simple recipe that requires only six ingredients and a total of 15 minutes to make. It’s a quick and easy recipe that will surely save you from a bind if you’re scrambling to make an impressive dessert. Plus, it’s vegan!
Ingredients:
  • ¾ cup chia seeds
  • ½ cup cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 ¼ cups of nut milk
  • ⅓ cup real maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon flakey sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Optional: 

Prep time: 15 minutes total
Steps:
  1. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the milk, maple syrup, chia seeds, cocoa powder, salt and vanilla. Cover and place in your fridge for two hours.
  2. Move this mix over into a blender and blend on high until your mixture is creamy. You may want to scrape down the sides while you blend to mix everything in.
  3. Taste the mixture and add more maple until your mousse is sweetened to your liking.
  4. Chill, serve and voila!
  5. If you’d like to add a little flair to this dessert, use the optional ingredients to make a coconut cream as follows:
  6. Tip the coconut water out of your coconut cream, and place the cream into a mixing bowl along with your vanilla and maple syrup. 
  7. With an electric mixer, whip the cream until everything is combined.
  8. Garnish your mousse with the coconut cream and dried roses or cacao nibs to make it look Instagram pretty.

Vegan Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake
Vegan cheesecake? That doesn’t sound right, but this recipe will make a cheesecake so delicious, you won’t even notice the difference. Plus it’s quite easy to make – just dedicate 20 minutes to making your mixture and let the freezer complete the job for you.
Ingredients:
  • Zest of ½ lemon
  • 3 tbsp agave syrup
  • 1 tbsp almond milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • ½ cup almond meal

Optional Blueberry Puree Sauce:
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 tbsp agave syrup
  • 2 ½ tbsp melted coconut oil
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 340g extra-firm, drained silken tofu

Prep Time: 20 min
Chill: 5 hours
Steps:
  1. Mix your almond meal with cinnamon and add syrup and coconut oil. Mix well and firmly press into a mold to create your crust.
  2. Blend the rest of your ingredients (minus the puree ingredients) until the mixture is creamy.
  3. Place your filling onto the crust.
  4. Place the cheesecake in the freezer for 5 hours, and you are set!
  5. For the puree, simply blend the blueberries, syrup and lemon juice for a few seconds. Then blend it into your tofu filling, and set a portion of it aside to use later as a sauce.

Heart-Shaped Anything!
If all else fails, you can always just go back to your favorite go-to recipe for cookies, brownies, cake or anything sweet and use a heart-shaped mold or cookie cutter to make it Valentine’s Day-themed.

The important part is that you have fun with whichever project you decide to take on. The whole purpose of making a home-cooked dessert is to avoid the stress of crowded places and enjoy this special day in a more intimate setting. Cooking together is a simple yet fun date idea for all couples, new and old. So go ahead and indulge in a scrumptious treat, and end your Valentine’s Day on a light and sweet note.

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