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Sweet Valentine

Forget the box of chocolates; whip up some homemade holiday treats with these recipes.

Frosted Chocolate-Buttermilk Cupcakes – Recipe Courtesy of Martha Stewart For the Cupcakes: Ingredients ¾ cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled ¾ cup sugar 1 teaspoon baking powder ½ teaspoon baking soda ¼ teaspoon salt 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder 3 table spoons unsalted butter, melted 6 tablespoons buttermilk 1 large egg 1 large egg white Light cream-cheese icing (recipe below)

Directions Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

With an electric mixer, combine cocoa and 3 tablespoons hot water until a thick paste forms. Add butter, buttermilk, egg and egg white; beat until combined. Whisk in flour mixture until smooth.

Spoon batter into prepared tins. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

Prepare your icing using recipe below. Use an offset spatula or butter knife to spread icing over tops. Decorate as desired.

For the Frosting: Ingredients 3 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese 1 cup confectioners’ sugar

Directions With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and confectioner’s’ sugar until light and fluffy. To make without a mixer, sift sugar before stirring into cream cheese.

Chocolate Truffles Recipe – Recipe courtesy of SimplyRecipes.com Ingredients 8-ounces of semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces ½ cup heavy whipping cream 1 teaspoon vanilla extract Cocoa powder, finely chopped walnuts or almonds (optional truffle coatings)

Directions In a small, heavy saucepan bring the heavy whipping cream to a simmer. Place the chocolate in a separate bowl. Pour the cream over the chocolate, add the vanilla and allow to stand for a few minutes then stir until smooth.

Allow to cool, then place in refrigerator for two hours. Remove and, with a teaspoon, roll out balls of the ganache chocolate mixture. Roll in your hands quickly and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate overnight. Roll in cocoa powder or chopped nuts and serve.

Mini Raspberry and White Chocolate Whoopie Pies – Recipe courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens For the Whoopie Pie Cookie: Ingredients ½ cup butter, softened 1 cup sugar ½ teaspoon baking soda ¼ teaspoon salt 1 egg 1 teaspoon vanilla 2 cups all-purpose flour ½ cup buttermilk ½ cup seedless raspberry preserves White Chocolate and Mascarpone Filling (recipe below)

Directions Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, baking soda and salt. Beat until combined, scraping bowl occasionally. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Alternately add flour and buttermilk, beating on a low speed after each addition just until mixture is combined. Spoon dough with a teaspoon, 1 inch apart onto prepared cookie sheet.

Bake for 7 to 8 minutes or until tops are set. Cool completely on parchment-lined cookie sheet on a wire rack. Peel cooled cookies off the paper. Spread the flat side of half of the cookies with about ¼ teaspoon raspberry preserves. In a large pastry bag fitted with a small star tip, pip White Chocolate and Mascarpone Filling over the raspberry preserve layer. Top with the remaining cookies, flat sides down.

Chill for 30 minutes before serving.

For the White Chocolate-Mascarpone Filling: Ingredients 3 ounces chopped white baking chocolate (with cocoa butter) ¼ cup whipping cream ½ cup mascarpone or cream cheese ¼ cup softened butter ½ teaspoon 4 cups powdered sugar

Directions In a heavy small saucepan, combine white baking chocolate and whipping cream. Cook and stir over low heat until chocolate nearly melts. Remove from heat; stir until smooth. Cool for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine mascarpone cheese and butter. Beat with an electric mixer on medium to high speed until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating well. Beat in the cooled white chocolate mixture. Chill about 30 minutes or until firm enough to pipe.

Valentine’s Day Frosted Sugar Cookies – Recipe courtesy of JoyofBaking.com For the Sugar Cookies: Ingredients ½ cups all-purpose flour ¼ teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon baking soda ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature ½ cup white sugar 1 large egg, lightly beaten 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 to 4 minutes). Add the beaten egg and vanilla extract and beat until combined. Add in the flower mixture and beat until you have a smooth dough. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or overnight until firm enough to roll.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place rack in the center of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of a ¼ inch. Cut out shapes using a lightly floured cookie cutter and transfer cookies to the prepared baking sheet. Place the baking sheets with the unbaked cookies in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes to chill the dough.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to brown around the edges. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling. Frost with Royal Icing and let icing dry completely before storing. (This may take several hours.)

For the Frosting: Ingredients 1 large egg white* 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice 1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Directions Using an electric mixer, beat the egg white and lemon juice. Add the sifted powdered sugar and beat on low speed until combined and smooth. The icing needs to be used immediately or transferred to an airtight container as royal icing hardens when exposed to air. Cover with plastic wrap when not in use.

*Consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish, or eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness

Fudge Heart Brownies with Vanilla Glaze – Recipe courtesy of Midwest Living For the Brownies: Ingredients 1 cup butter 8-ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped 3-ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped 4 eggs, lightly beaten ¾ cup granulated sugar ¾ cup packed brown sugar 2 teaspoons vanilla 1 cup all-purpose flour 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder ½ teaspoon salt 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted (optional) Vanilla Glazer (recipe below)

Directions Line a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with heavy foil, extending foil over edges of the pan. Butter the foil and set aside.

In a heavy, large saucepan, heat 1 cup butter and chocolates over low heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted and smooth. Set aside to cool slightly. In a medium bowl, stir together eggs, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla. Stir into warm chocolate mixture; cool to room temperature.

In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Fold flour mixture into chocolate mixture. Stir in nuts (optional). Spread the batter in the prepared pan.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until brownies appear shiny, begin to crack on top and appear set. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Store, covered in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours before serving.

To serve, remove pan from refrigerator. Use foil to lift brownies out of pan. Cut brownies with 3-inch heart-shape cookie cutters. Drizzle with Vanilla Glaze. Chill until glaze is set.

For the Vanilla Glaze: Ingredients 2/3 cup powdered milk 1 teaspoon milk ½ teaspoon vanilla

Directions In a small bowl, stir together powdered sugar, milk and vanilla. Stir in enough additional milk, ½ teaspoon at a time, to make glaze of drizzling consistency.