Make a "magic shell" topping for ice cream: When we think of Valentine's Day, we think of dessert. But if you don't have the time or energy to whip up a cake, dole out bowls of ice cream and top them with this fun and easy-to-make topping you can prepare days in advance. This recipe is inspired by Smucker's Magic Shell, that candylike product that hardens instantly after you drizzle it onto your ice cream. To make your own, combine 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, ⅛ teaspoon instant espresso powder and a pinch of salt in a small bowl and stir until espresso dissolves. In a separate bowl, add 4 ounces chopped semisweet chocolate and 1/3 cup coconut oil and microwave at 50 percent power until melted. This should take about 3 minutes. Whisk in vanilla mixture and 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder and stir well, then let it cool before using. This makes about 3/4 cup; store it in the fridge for up to 2 months. Just before you want to use it, microwave for a minute or so until melted and smooth. Another use for this magical shell? Chocolate-covered strawberries.
Michelle Stark, Times food editor