The blog hopping party is back in time for Valentine’s Day! I was so excited when Erin, from Big Fat Baker,announced that she was thinking of extending the Holiday Blog Hop past Christmas. These blog hops are great for finding new blogs and recipes with a theme involved (if you would like to join fill out the contact form found HERE). Today for the Valentine’s Day theme, we had to incorporate at least one of three ingredients, which were: beef, heavy cream, or strawberries. Once you’re done here, be sure to check out the others blog hopper’s posts listed at the bottom!
While digging through my bookmarked recipes, I noticed there were far too many that would be great to make for your Valentine this year. Even with the help of narrowing it down by ingredients! But when I saw this dark chocolate version of strawberry shortcake I knew I had a winner. After all, in addition to the dark chocolate and strawberries (already making me happy) the whipped cream topping has pudding AND Amaretto in it – wee!! I’ll have my dessert with a little liqueur, thank you very much. This recipe just screamed “love”, even if it’s only a love affair with the dessert itself .
For the first shortcake I assembled, I wanted to slice the shortcakes in half like a bun in order to make a multilayer shortcake. Yea, that shortcake crumbled into a (delicious) pile. Learn from me – do not try to cut the shortcakes. Just stack them up in their slightly thicker glory. Then serve with a little extra cream topping and strawberries.
And the Amaretto cream? Sure at first it looks like you’ve made far more than necessary, but you’ll end up wanting to eat it straight up. Or maybe you’ll start thinking of the strawberries and chocolate shortcake as mere vehicles for the cream. With the cream cheese and pudding mix in there it tastes like cheesecake, in the consistency of pudding. So where does that leave me? I’ll be in the corner mixing the attempted-sliced-but-crumbled-shortcakes in with the strawberries and cream. Make-shift trifle anyone? You don’t want to see the pictures of that though. Focus on the prettiness I’ve shown here (when I did not try to cut the shortcakes in half).
P.S. I love mixing Amaretto and coke together. It’s lovely beverage.
One year ago: Guiltless Fettucine Alfredo
DARK CHOCOLATE STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKES WITH AMARETTO CREAM
Makes 3 large or 6 small
2/3 cup 2% milk
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup unsalted cold butter, chopped
8 oz. reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1 (3.4oz) package instant vanilla pudding mix
1/4 cup Amaretto
1-1/2 cups 2% milk
8 oz. frozen light whipped topping, thawed
2 lbs. sliced strawberries, leaving a few whole for garnish
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat (or grease pan well).
- Place 2/3 cup milk and dark chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high in 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval, until smooth. Stir in vanilla. Cool.
- Meanwhile, add flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl, and whisk together until combined. Add butter and cut in with fork until crumbly in texture. Slowly add milk and chocolate chip mixture and stir in until just combined.
- Using an extra large cookie scoop, spoon mixture into 6 large circles (or 12 small) onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until set (or about 8-12 minutes for small). Cool on wire racks.
- Meanwhile, in large bowl mix together cream cheese and pudding mix with electric mixer on medium speed until well combined. Slowly mix in Amaretto and milk until well combined. Fold in whipped topping. Cover and refrigerate for about 1-2 hours or until firm.
- To assemble, place one shortcake on serving plate then top with cream and strawberries; end with another chocolate shortcake. Top with more Amaretto cream and strawberries if desired. Repeat with remaining shortcakes.
Source: Adapted slightly from Snappy Gourmet.
Is it just me or have I been doing a lot of roundups lately? I guess it’s just that time of year to have a lot of holidays and events going on to warrant them! This time around I have a list of Valentine’s Day-worthy recipes. And while we are on the subject of compiled lists, my Funfetti and Nutella recipe roundups are also great sources for inspiration as well! If you make something from this list for your Valentine this year, let me know how it went .
One year ago: Nutella Cream Cheese Swirl Heart Brownies
- Berries and Cream Granola
- Biscoff Cinnamon Rolls
- Buttermilk Pancakes
- Buttermilk Pecan Waffles
- Broccoli Quiche
- Dark Chocolate Blueberry Muffins
- Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes
- Peanut Butter French Toast with Chocolate Syrup
- Tomato-Basil Eggs Alfredo in Bread Baskets
Appetizers & Snacks
- Blueberry Almond Turtles
- Deviled Strawberries
- Homemade Wheat Thins
- Pomegranate-Goat Cheese Ball
- Pomegranate Stuffed Chocolate Covered Pretzels
- Blue Cheese Scalloped Potatoes
- Easy Garlic Knots
- Garlic Rolls
- Homemade Olive Garden Salad & Dressing
- Parmesan-Roasted Broccoli
- Quinoa Pilaf with Pine Nuts
- Spinach Potato Cakes
- Almond Crusted Chicken with Scallion Beurre Blanc
- Beef Negimaki with Broccolini and Rice
- Cajun Chicken Alfredo
- Chicken Parmeatballs
- Chicken Pot Pie Wellington
- Chicken Scallopine with Sage and Fontina Cheese
- Eggplant Parmesan
- Eggplant Stuffed Shells
- Flank Steak Stuffed with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Goat Cheese & Basil
- Grilled Steak Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing
- Guiltless Fettucine Alfredo
- Heart-Stuffed Shells in a Ricotta Sauce
- Homemade Whole Wheat Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli with Tomato-Pancetta Butter
- Italian Herb and Cheese Fettucine
- Pasta withVodka Sauce
- Pesto Pasta with Chicken Sausage & Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- Salmon Florentine
- Sausage Lasagna Heart Calzone (serves 2)
- Almond Cherry Chip Blondies
- Amaretto Chocolate Mascarpone Cheesecake Bars
- Black Forest Stuffed Cupcakes
- Brownie Covered Oreo Pops
- Brownie Fruit Pizza
- Chocolate Chip-Peanut Butter Layer Pie
- Chocolate Covered Cherries
- Cinnamon-Blueberry Bread Pudding (serves 2)
- Cookies and Cream Peanut Butter Pie
- Cream Cheese Spritz Cookies
- Creme Brulee
- German Chocolate Brownies
- Oreo Truffles
- Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Mini S’mores Pie
- Peanut Butter Pretzel Pie
- Peanut Butter Fudge Brownie Bricks
- Red Velvet Cake Balls
- Red Velvet Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies
- Red Velvet Creme Brulee Cupcakes
- Red Velvet Shortbread Cookies
- Red Velvet Truffle Stuffed Cupcakes (use Vday themed Funfetti cake mix)
- Red Velvet Whoopie Pies
- Sweet Swirl Cookies
- Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie N’ Peanut Butter Oreo Fudge Brownie Bar
Have you made plans for Valentine’s Day yet? I actually do not have any yet, but in the meantime have not slacked off on making Valentine’s Day inspired treats and meals. For example, after I mastered the stromboli I decided it was time to take on the calzone. But not just any calzone, but a heart-shaped one! And it conveniently serves two people. Or maybe four if you serve anything substantial on the side.
And if the shape alone wasn’t enough this baby is actually stuffed with sausage lasagna filling. Gooey, cheesy, meaty loveliness wrapped up in dough. Yup, go ahead and eat your heart out. (Sorry sorry couldn’t resist)
One year ago: Oreo Truffles
SAUSAGE LASAGNA HEART CALZONE
1/2 lb pizza dough
1 lb spicy Italian sausage
1-1/2 cups pizza sauce
8 oz low fat ricotta cheese
1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
Pinch of salt, fresh cracked pepper
1/4 tsp Italian seasoning, plus more for topping (optional)
1 egg, beaten (for brushing dough)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Brown sausage until browned. Drain and return back to skillet. Add pasta sauce and reduce heat to low to simmer.
- Place ricotta, Parmesan, mozzarella cheese and seasonings in a mixing bowl. Mix until well combined.
- Cut the pizza doughs in half. On a floured sheet of parchment paper, form two large hearts and roll until about 1/8″ thick. Move one dough-heart onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Top the dough-heart on the baking sheet with sausage marinara then with ricotta (you may have leftovers), leaving a 1/2″ edge. Brush the edges of the dough with egg and top with remaining dough-heart. Press seams together, brush entire top lightly with egg then sprinkle with Italian seasoning. Cut a few slices in the top, transfer to a cookie sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes or until browned and cooked through.
Source: Adapted slightly from Picky Palate.
Desserts that combine two things into one are always a good choice. Makes the decision process of which one to eat a no-brainer, especially if you are trying to be good. But until now I never thought I would see a cupcake combines with crème brulee. And the flavor combination possibilities are endless! What type of cupcake would you like to top with crème brulee? Or maybe you have a flavored crème brulee you’d like to throw into the mix as well?
For these, I tried out a different red velvet recipe than I usually use. This one is Paula Deen’s, but I think I like Bobby Flay’s better. Who would’ve guessed I would pick the master-griller’s recipe over the butter-queen’s? Although this one was a much brighter red, the other recipe seems less greasy and produces a much richer flavored red velvet, which is what I think a cake called “velvet” should be.
As for the topping unfortunately, I was not able to brulee it as much as I would’ve liked – who knew that a paper cupcake liner would light on fire when put under flames? Whoops. As a result only the middles were toasted. Next time I think I would core out a little of the cupcake in order to fill them up with some of the crème brulee, since you can’t pile it up as much as regular frosting. But overall, still very awesome!
RED VELVET CRÈME BRULEE CUPCAKES
Makes 24 cupcakes
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups sugar, plus more for the crème brulee topping
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cocoa powder
1-1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 Tbsp red food coloring
1 tsp white distilled vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 ramekins prepared un-torched Crème Brulees
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with cupcake papers.
- In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In a large bowl gently beat together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla with a handheld electric mixer. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined.
- Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins about 2/3 filled. Bake in oven for about 20 to 22 minutes, turning the pans once, half way through. Test the cupcakes with a toothpick for doneness. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.
- Spread the chilled crème brulee over the cooled cupcakes.
- Sprinkle with regular or maple sugar and brulee with a culinary torch just before serving.
Steph’s Virtual Bridal Shower: Stuffed Flank Steak with Potato Cakes and Amaretto Chocolate Cheesecake
Kita, from Pass the Sushi, contacted me about contributing to Steph’s (from Steph’s Bite by Bite) surprise virtual bridal shower and I definitely knew I wanted to be a part of it. Even though some of us (myself included) are already donating desserts to her dessert bar for the big wedding day, this was a fun idea to do in addition since it is after all, a surprise! Who doesn’t love surprises?
Another thing that I really liked about this idea, is that even though I am very aware that Steph is fully capable of pleasing her soon-to-be-hubby’s belly, she will now have a big new list of great date-night meal ideas to play with. I don’t know if that was the original intention behind this masterful plan, but I think it makes sense.
I decided to go all the way and do a full meal. Naturally, I created a huge mess in my kitchen making everything for this, but I drank a glass of wine in the process so it make it not seem so bad. And had another glass after cleaning up after myself. And then maybe I invited Katie over and we finished the whole bottle while watching Project Runway and being amused by my cat playing with a rubber band. Maybe… yes. Yes, I am getting sidetracked.
I prepped the potato cakes first, then let them sit for a few minutes while I prepared the flank steak. Once the steak was in the oven, I cooked up the potato cakes. The timing was just perfect and I can’t believe how well it all went together. The juicy flavorful steak was served curled up on top of the crunchy potato cakes that were super moist and heavenly. It is a fancified (I may have just made that word up) meat and taters!
As for the cheesecake, it was the logical choice for the end of this meal. With the Italian-ish feel of the steak, having a dessert with Amaretto and mascarpone just seemed right. And it is made one day in advance so the kitchen mess gets spread out between two days. But the dessert really doesn’t make much of a mess. Except maybe a mess of your diet, because I decided it needed a drizzle of Nutella on top while I was at it. Go ahead and try to tell me I was wrong.
Happy surprise virtual bridal shower, Steph!
FLANK STEAK STUFFED WITH SUNDRIED TOMATOES, GOAT CHEESE AND BASIL
10 oz. (ish) flank steak
2 oz. goat cheese, brought to room temperature to soften
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, drained and chopped
3 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Butterfly the flank steak, and then pound is to flatten it slightly. Sprinkle both sides of the steak with salt and pepper.
- In a bowl, combine the softened goat cheese, sundried tomatoes, basil, a few grinds of pepper. Spread the mixture on top of the flank steak, and then roll it up to form a log. Secure the steak with kitchen twine or toothpicks.
- Heat a large, ovenproof skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the flank steak and brown it on all sides. Place the flank steak in the oven to finish cooking to your desired level of doneness (about 1o minutes for me). Place the steak under a foil tent to rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.
SPINACH POTATO CAKES
Makes one dozen
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup packed fresh spinach, stems removed
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 large Idaho potato, boiled and mashed
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup canola oil
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the butter, melt, then add the spinach and cook, stirring, until wilted. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool. Squeeze the spinach dry and finely chop; place in a large bowl. Add the egg and stir until well combined. Add the mashed potatoes, Parmesan, and lemon zest, and season with more salt and pepper; stir until well combined. Stir in the bread crumbs and flour until the mixture holds together. Pat into 2-inch by 1/2-inch-thick cakes.
- Pour Panko bread crumb into a shallow bowl. Coat each potato cake and press down slightly to adhere. Gently shake off any excess and transfer to a plate.
- Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the cakes and cook until lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes per side.
AMARETTO CHOCOLATE MASCARPONE CHEESECAKE BARS
Makes 9 bars
1 stick unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
1 cup + 2 Tbsp flour, divided
1/4 cup powdered sugar
8 oz. reduced fat cream cheese, at room temperature
8 oz. mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3 Tbsp Amaretto
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup chocolate chips (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8″ x 8″ square pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang, and set aside.
- Cut the butter into 1 cup of the flour and powdered sugar until crumbly. Press evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 15 minutes or until light brown.
- Meanwhile, beat cream cheese in large bowl until smooth. Add mascarpone and 2 Tbsp flour; beat until smooth, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl with rubber spatula.
- Gradually add sugar and beat until smooth. Beat in Amaretto. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.
- Divide the batter in half. Add cocoa powder to one of the batters and mix until fully incorporated.
- Pour chocolate filling into pie shell. Carefully spoon plain Amaretto batter on top. Scatter chocolate chips if using.
- Bake cheesecake until top is golden and cake is almost set (center 2 inches will still move slightly when pan is gently shaken), about 40-50 minutes. Cool cake on rack 1 hour before refrigerating uncovered overnight. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and keep refrigerated.)
- Before serving, lift out of the pan using the overhanging parchment paper before cutingt into 9 squares. Drizzle melted Nutella over the top is desired.
Hope everyone had a great Valentine’s Day yesterday. Brent and I skipped the dinner craze and went out for a lunch date instead. But it was a bittersweet day because he packed at night and left early this morning on a plane to Costa Rica for two weeks (and yes, I am incredibly jealous). My cooking/baking tendencies are either going to go through the roof, or I’m going to completely slack off during his absence. For now, enjoy some chocolate covered cherries. Who says these chocolate treats are only for Valentine’s Day?
These take at least a week before they are ready to enjoy (the sugar coating must be given time to turn into gel), but definitely worth your time and patience. They even converted someone who proclaimed to hate chocolate covered cherries.
60 maraschino cherries with stems
3 Tbsp butter, softened
3 Tbsp corn syrup
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 lb chocolate confectioners’ coating
- Drain cherries and set on paper towels to dry.
- In a medium bowl, combine butter and corn syrup until smooth. Stir in confectioners’ sugar and knead to form a dough. Chill to stiffen if necessary. Wrap each cherry in about 1 teaspoon of dough. Chill in freezer until firm.
- Melt confectioners’ coating in a double boiler over low heat. Dip each cherry in by its stem, and place on waxed paper lined sheets. Chill until completely set.
- Store in an airtight container in a cool place. Best after 1 or 2 weeks.
Source: All Recipes
I recently discovered that Nutella and cream cheese mixed together is a wonderful thing. I may be behind the times, but now I’m in the know and spreading the word.
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner I decided to bust out my mini brownie heart pans. They turned out really cute, but admit I missed having a middle piece from a regular brownie pan.
I also had a bunch of leftover cream cheese topping and had to figure out a way to stop eating it raw by the spoonful, so I spooned it into a ramekin to make a mini Nutella cheesecake. I’d like to thank myself for that one. It was sooo goood! No wonder these brownies are fantastic.
CREAM CHEESE TOPPING:
5 oz Neufchatel cream cheese
2 Tbsp butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread
3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Grease two Wilton Petite Silicone 12 Cavity Heart Pans* with cooking spray.
- For the cream cheese layer: Cream together butter, and sugar. Add cream cheese and mix/blend until smooth. Scrape bowl and add the egg and beat until the topping is nice and creamy. Scrape bowl and add Nutella, beat about one minute or until the Nutella is mixed into the cream cheese mixture completely. Set aside.
- For the brownie batter: Sift flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder into a medium sized bowl. In a small bowl cream sugar and the stick of butter, add eggs one at a time, beat well then add vanilla. Fold egg, sugar, butter and vanilla mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients.
- Pour the brownie batter halfway up into the heart molds. Dollop the cream cheese topping over the brownie batter followed by another dollop of the brownie batter. Swirl with a toothpick.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs. Allow to cool, in the pan, on a cooling rack. Gently remove each brownie by pushing from the bottom.
- Repeat with any remaining batter.
*You may also cook in an 8 x 8-inch brownie pan for 40-50 mins.
Source: Adapted slightly from Lovin’ from the Oven