- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 6, 2007

I am sure that you prepare every dinner as if it were Valentine’s Day. So I don’t need to go on about how to make this meal special, or do I? We all need a little help turning the ordinary meal into a love feast.

Much has to do with the lighting, the use of flowers, dining with someone you love and serving foods you both enjoy.

These heart-shaped chocolate cakes are so cute that they should be called kiss-the-cook cakes. A brownie batter goes into heart-shaped pans, and when it has baked, you press the brownie into the sides of the pan to form a crust. Then fill it with gooey chocolate ganache and top with fresh raspberries.

For these cakes, you will need two pans with heart-shaped cups that are about 3 inches wide and 11/4 inches deep. If you don’t have them, any round 2-inch to 3-inch tart pan will do. The crusts can be baked a day or two ahead and kept refrigerated.

Four time-shaving Valentine-dinner ideas

m Pick up a supermarket roasted chicken. Turn it into an Indian-inspired meal with steamed basmati rice, mango chutney and a quick curry sauce from the specialty food aisle.

m Roast a pork tenderloin at 325 degrees for 1 hours, basting with your favorite barbecue sauce every 15 minutes.

• Buy steaks on sale. Grill and serve with loaded baked potatoes and a Caesar salad.

• Buy a package of cheese fondue mix. Assemble the fondue and serve with French bread cubes and apple slices for dipping.

Kiss me cakes

The preparation time is 10 minutes, the baking time is 12 to 15 minutes, and the assembly time is 20 minutes


3/4 cup heavy (whipping) cream

8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips or chunks (11/3 cups)

1 tablespoon Chambord (black raspberry liqueur, optional)


Solid vegetable shortening or butter for greasing the pans

Flour for dusting the pans

1 package (20 ounces) brownie mix

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/3 cup water

1 large egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


2 pints fresh raspberries

1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

1 tablespoon chocolate decorating icing (optional)

Prepare the ganache filling: Place the cream in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.

Place the chocolate in a large stainless steel or glass bowl. When the cream just begins to come to a boil, remove it from the heat and pour it over the chocolate.

Stir the cream and chocolate with a wooden spoon until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth and thickened. Stir in the Chambord, if desired, and set the ganache aside.

Prepare the crusts: Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush the tart pans with the shortening or soft butter and dust with flour. Shake out the excess flour. Set the pans aside.

Place the brownie mix, melted butter, water, egg and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Blend with a wooden spoon until the ingredients are well blended and the mixture is smooth, about 100 strokes. Spoon a heaping tablespoon batter into each heart cup, filling it nearly full. You should fill 20 cups. Place the pans in the oven.

Bake the crusts until they are firm around the edges but still soft in the center, 12 to 15 minutes.

Remove the pans from the oven and place them on wire racks. Immediately press down on each brownie heart with the back of a small spoon or a small knife so that the brownie forms a compact crust in the pan.

Let them cool in the pan on the rack for 15 minutes, then place the pans in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to chill completely and make unmolding easier. Run a knife around the edges of each heart, lift it up, and place it on a serving platter.

Place a heaping tablespoon ganache onto each crust. Spread it out smoothly with a short metal spatula or a spoon, taking care to cover the top completely.

Just before serving, place from 4 to 6 raspberries on top of the ganache filling in the center of each heart. Dust the tops with confectioners’ sugar and serve. If you wish, use the decorating icing to pipe a Cupid’s arrow on each serving plate. Makes 20 hearts.


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