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Romantic recipes: Cozy up around these recipes for Valentine's Day


Molten chocolate cakes cooked with a hint of brandy and cinnamon and accented with cherries are a “Be Mine” dessert perfect for a Valentine’s Day dinner with that special someone.

Molten chocolate cakes cooked with a hint of brandy and cinnamon and accented with cherries are a “Be Mine” dessert perfect for a Valentine’s Day dinner with that special someone. Photo by: Photo by Angie Norwood Browne/


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Impress with an entrée featuring beef tenderloin with mustard-cognac sauce.

Impress with an entrée featuring beef tenderloin with mustard-cognac sauce.
Photo by: Photo by Gary Moss/


These tomato jewels from Campbell’s Kitchen make a tasty appetizer.

These tomato jewels from Campbell’s Kitchen make a tasty appetizer.
Photo by: Courtesy photo


Almond Heart Napoleans

Almond Heart Napoleans
Photo by:



Jan Swoope



The approach of Valentine's Day always causes me to remember a long-ago February and a card table my mother set up by the picture window in our living room. She put it there so my younger sister and I could enjoy a rare Columbus snowfall as we addressed our little Valentines. I'm pretty sure there was hot chocolate involved. 


Most of our heart-shaped greetings would go to our elementary classmates, dropped into the oversized hand-crafted envelopes we made at school. But others were destined for furtive delivery. Early in the evening of each Feb. 14, we'd leave our Valentine happies on the doorsteps of good neighbors and friends, ring the door bell and run hide, giggling all the while. It was delightful, and I thank my mother for immersing us in that tradition as children. 


Later, of course, Valentine's Day was all about boys, hearts, flowers and, eventually, romantic dinners. And it seems that, no matter what our age, hearts, flowers and romantic dinners still do the trick.  


If you choose to celebrate this year by making a stand-out dinner for a special someone, look through today's recipes for suggestions to impress. Keep in mind though that it's best to test any involved recipes beforehand. Valentine's Day is not the time to try that roast rack of lamb for the first time. Choose your menu well and invest in prep ahead of time. Few things ruin the mood like a frantic, stress-ridden cook. 


Whether you're courting a new love, or have shared 50 Valentine's Days together, your dinner deserves a setting. An invitation left on a dashboard, in a briefcase or on a pillow is a nice start. A table adorned with crystal, cloth napkins and flowers show that your Valentine rates an effort. Floating candles add a nice touch, and don't forget the background music (which does not include television or cell phones). Frankly, sitting by a campfire eating off tin plates can be romantic, too. The point is to make time to cultivate romance; Cupid can always use an ally. 






Makes 2 servings 




1 16-ounce bag frozen pitted dark sweet cherries, halved, thawed, undrained 


3/4 cup sugar 


1/4 cup kirsch (clear cherry brandy) or regular brandy 


1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 


2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder 


2 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped 


1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces 


2 large egg yolks 


1 large egg 


2 teaspoons all purpose flour 


Powdered sugar 


Fresh mint 




  • Combine cherries with juices, 1/2 cup sugar, kirsch and cinnamon in heavy medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Simmer until sauce thickens and is slightly reduced, about 10 minutes. Using slotted spoon, remove 1/4 cup cherries from sauce; drain well. Transfer to work surface and chop coarsely; reserve chopped cherries for cakes. Set aside cherry sauce. 


  • Butter two 3/4-cup ramekins or custard cups. Whisk cocoa and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in small bowl to blend. Stir chocolate and butter in heavy small saucepan over low heat until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat; whisk in cocoa mixture. Whisk in egg yolks, then whole egg and flour. Fold in reserved 1/4 cup chopped cherries. Divide batter between prepared ramekins. Sauce and cake batter can be made one day ahead. Cover separately; chill. 


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake cakes uncovered until edges are set but center is still shiny and tester inserted into center comes out with some wet batter attached, about 22 minutes. 


  • Warm sauce over low heat. Cut around cakes to loosen; turn out onto plates. Spoon sauce alongside. Sift powdered sugar over; garnish with mint. 


    (Source: Lane Crowther, 








    6 (7- to 8-ounce) beef tenderloin steaks (each about 1 1/2 inches thick) 


    Coarse kosher salt 


    Cracked black pepper 


    3 tablespoons canola oil 


    6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, divided 


    4 garlic cloves, peeled, smashed 


    2 fresh thyme sprigs 


    2 fresh rosemary sprigs 


    1 cup finely chopped shallots 


    1/2 cup Cognac or brandy 


    2 tablespoons tawny Port 


    3 cups low-salt chicken broth 


    2 tablespoons Dijon mustard 




  • Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Sprinkle steaks on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat oil in heavy large skillet over high heat. Add steaks and sear until brown, about 2 minutes per side. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add 3 tablespoons butter, garlic, thyme and rosemary to skillet. Cook steaks to desired doneness, turning occasionally and basting with pan juices, about 12 minutes for medium-rare. 


  • Transfer steaks to small rimmed baking sheet and keep warm in oven. 


  • Pour contents of skillet into small bowl. Return 3 tablespoons drippings from bowl to same skillet and place over high heat. Add shallots and sauté 2 minutes. Add cognac and port and stir 1 minute, scraping up any browned bits. Add broth and boil until sauce is reduced to 1 cup, about 12 minutes. Whisk in Dijon mustard, then remaining 3 tablespoons cold butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside. 


  • Arrange steaks on plates; whisk any accumulated juices from baking sheet into sauce. Spoon sauce over steaks and serve. 


    (Source: Alfred Portale, 






    Makes 24 




    4 ounces goat cheese, softened  


    1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley  


    1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives  


    1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese  


    1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper  


    1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest  


    1/2 of a 17.3-ounce package puff pastry sheets (1 sheet), thawed  


    24 cherry tomatoes  




  • Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Stir the goat cheese, parsley, chives, Parmesan cheese, black pepper and lemon zest in a medium bowl. 


  • Unfold the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Roll the pastry sheet into a 10-inch square. Cut into 4 (2 1/2-inch) strips. Cut each strip into 6 (3-by-3-by-3-inch) triangles. Discard any remaining pastry. Press the pastry triangles into the bottoms and up the sides of 24 (1 1/2-inch) mini muffin-pan cups. 


  • Bake for 7 minutes. 


  • Cut slits in the tops of the tomatoes and scoop out the seeds. Spoon about 1 1/2 teaspoons cheese mixture into each tomato. Place the tomatoes in the center of the warm pastries and press down lightly. 


  • Bake for 5 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown. 


    Note: Save time by substituting about 3/4 cup garlic and herb spreadable cheese, softened, for the goat cheese, parsley and chives. 








    Makes 24 servings 




    1 package (17.3 oz.) frozen puff pastry sheets 


    1-1/4 cups cold half-and-half 


    2 tablespoons almond-flavored liqueur or 1/2 teaspoon almond extract 


    1 package (4-serving size) JELL-O French Vanilla or Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding 


    2 teaspoon hot water 


    1/2 cup powdered sugar 


    1 square Baker's Semi-Sweet Chocolate, melted 




  • Thaw pastry at room temperature 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unfold pastry. Using 2-inch heart shaped cookie cutter, cut each sheet into 12 hearts. Place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from baking sheets; cool completely on wire racks. Split each heart in half horizontally. 


  • Pour half-and-half and liqueur into medium bowl. Add dry pudding mix. Beat with wire whisk 2 minutes or until well blended. Refrigerate 10 minutes. 


  • Spread about 1 tablespoon of the pudding mixture onto bottom half of each heart; top with remaining pastry halves. Stir hot water into powdered sugar to make a thin glaze. Spread on top of hearts. (If glaze becomes too thick, add more hot water until reaching desired consistency.) Before glaze dries, drizzle chocolate on top to form thin lines. Draw wooden pick through chocolate to make design. Can be garnished with strawberries.  




  • Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.


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