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Fancy sweets for your sweetie on Valentine's Day

A gesture that says "I love you" can be better than a gift, just what you need to give your relationship a lift. A teddy bear won't win her heart, and a box of chocolates seems like a cliche start. Here are romantic desserts for your sweetie, quick, affordable and most of all easy! Fire up your ovens, get your whisks ready because these recipes will make your Valentine's Day go smooth and steady. If you're single and can't find anyone true, don't worry because that's more dessert for you!

Nandi Musengwa is a senior at St. Petersburg High and a staff writer for tb-two*, the Times' high school weekly.

EASY

Romantic Chocolate Mousse

With just three ingredients and only 10 minutes of active cooking time, this chocolate delicacy is an easy way to impress your valentine.

7 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips

3 tablespoons water

4 large eggs at room temperature

Melt the chocolate and water in a heat-proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove from heat and mix until smooth. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.

Separate the egg whites and yolks. Whip the egg whites until they form stiff peaks (meaning when you lift up the whisk, the egg whites are thick enough to hold their shape).

Stir the egg yolks into the cooled chocolate mixture. Gently combine the whipped egg whites into the chocolate until there are no visible white streaks.

Divide the batter between two ramekins or cute teacups. Let them chill in the fridge for at least three hours, or overnight. When ready to serve, top with whipped cream and enjoy!

Makes 2 to 4 servings.

Source: Adapted from twopeasandtheirpod.com

>>MODERATE

Melt Your Heart Molten Nutella Lava Cake

Warm chocolate cake stuffed with Nutella — what could be more romantic? For girlfriends or boyfriends with dairy or egg allergies, just omit the Nutella (admittedly the best part) to make this dessert vegan.

¾ cup all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons white sugar

¼ cup brown sugar

3 tablespoons cocoa

½ teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

½ cup water

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

½ teaspoon white vinegar (Yes, vinegar. It's food chemistry.)

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons Nutella (or any chocolate-hazelnut spread)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two ramekins or heat-proof oversized mugs with butter or cooking spray.

Combine flour, sugars, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Add the water, oil, vinegar and vanilla. Mix together until smooth.

Pour batter in prepared ramekins or mugs, dividing it equally. For each mini cake, add a tablespoon of Nutella in the center of the batter.

Bake the cakes for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean from the sides of the cake.

Let the cakes cool for about 5 minutes. They can be eaten in the ramekin or served on a plate. To remove the cake, turn the ramekin or mug upside down on the serving plate and give it several firm taps until the cake begins to loosen. Gently lift up the ramekin to reveal your masterpiece. Serve warm, with vanilla ice cream or fresh strawberries for an extra romantic touch.

Makes 2 individual chocolate cakes.

Source: Adapted from hersheys.com

>>MODERATE

Cloud Nine Cream Puffs

These fluffy cream puffs can be made into the traditional rounded shape, but heart-shaped puffs are certainly appropriate for Valentine's Day!

Choux pastry (cream puff shell):

½ cup water

¼ cup butter

1/8 teaspoon salt

½ cup all-purpose flour

2 eggs

Cream filling:

1 tablespoon milk

1 cup heavy cream

¼ cup powdered sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Chocolate topping (optional):

½ cup semisweet or milk chocolate

¼ cup white chocolate

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bring the water, butter and salt to a boil over medium heat in a saucepan. Add the flour and stir until a dough ball forms. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes. One at a time, add the eggs and beat the mixture well. Mix until smooth.

Fill a sealable, zipper-type bag or piping bag with the dough. Snip off a corner of the bag and draw little dough hearts on a greased baking sheet, being sure to fill in the outline. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until they are puffed up and golden brown. Once out of the oven, cut a slit in the middle to allow the puffs to

cool faster.

While the cream puff shells cool, prepare the filling. Beat the heavy cream until it begins to thicken. Then add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat the filling until it is stiff.

Make sure the cream puff shells are completely cooled (don't want any melting filling!). Fill the shells with the cream filling.

Optional step: Melt the semisweet and white chocolate in the microwave separately. Spread the melted chocolate over the tops of the cream puffs and then drizzle white chocolate over them to make this dessert super fancy.

Makes about 5 small to medium cream puffs.

Source: Adapted from tasteofhome.com

Fancy sweets for your sweetie on Valentine's Day 02/10/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 12, 2014 7:27pm]

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