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Sweets and savory for your Valentine

 

Mississippi University for Women Culinary Arts Institute student Franco Lopes of Columbus, left, and CAI Chef Mary Helen Hawkins fill a chocolate heart-shaped box with truffles in Hawkins' Demonstration Techniques class Monday. Chef Hawkins shares her recipe for marbled truffles in today's food pages. The chocolate box was made by MUW students Monday.

Mississippi University for Women Culinary Arts Institute student Franco Lopes of Columbus, left, and CAI Chef Mary Helen Hawkins fill a chocolate heart-shaped box with truffles in Hawkins' Demonstration Techniques class Monday. Chef Hawkins shares her recipe for marbled truffles in today's food pages. The chocolate box was made by MUW students Monday. Photo by: Jan Swoope/Dispatch Staff

 

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Cooking steaks for your Valentine? Chef Hawkins plates a filet mignon, saying,

Cooking steaks for your Valentine? Chef Hawkins plates a filet mignon, saying, "Look for a nice mahogany crust."
Photo by: Jan Swoope/Dispatch Staff

 

Senior culinary arts major Annyce Reagan of Vicksburg holds a box made of chocolate by MUW students Monday morning.

Senior culinary arts major Annyce Reagan of Vicksburg holds a box made of chocolate by MUW students Monday morning.
Photo by: Jan Swoope/Dispatch Staff

 

Marbled truffle mixture contains white chocolate, semisweet chocolate chips and orange-flavored liqueur, among other ingredients.

Marbled truffle mixture contains white chocolate, semisweet chocolate chips and orange-flavored liqueur, among other ingredients.
Photo by: Jan Swoope/Dispatch Staff

 

 

Jan Swoope

 

 

With Cupid due to arrive tomorrow, anyone planning to cook for their sweetheart is fine-tuning the menu. A visit to Mississippi University for Women's Culinary Arts Institute Monday found Chef Mary Helen Hawkins showing students in a Demonstration Techniques class several options, from truffles and quick cookies to savory filet mignon. 

 

"My husband loves chocolate and loves steak, so you know what he'll be getting for Valentine's," the chef smiled.  

 

She shares a recipe today for marbled truffles, a decadently delicious confectionery made with mouth-watering ingredients -- white chocolate, whipping cream, vanilla, chocolate chips, orange-flavored liqueur ... you get the idea. 

 

Hawkins enlisted the assistance of class member Franco Lopes Monday to demonstrate how truffles can be rolled in a variety of finishing coatings, including cocoa powder, chopped pecans or coconut. After coating, truffles were placed in petit four cups, or mini-cupcake papers, and then used to fill a heart-shaped box made of chocolate earlier that day by Culinary Arts students. Talk about a handmade Valentine. 

 

Don't feel like you have the time to make truffles? Hawkins showed how quickly "homemade" cookies can be whipped up using ingredients most of us usually have on hand -- a box of cake mix, eggs and butter.  

 

Easy cake box cookies are a fast fix for last-minute Valentine happies, for guests who stop in unexpectedly -- or any time you simply get a Saturday afternoon craving for something sweet. 

 

"You usually have butter in the house; you usually have eggs," said Hawkins. Grab that box of cake mix that's been taking up space in the cabinet for a while. (Or with an eye toward Valentine's Day, purchase a box of red velvet cake mix.)  

 

Preheat the oven to 350 F, add a melted stick of butter and two eggs (one at a time) to the cake mix in a mixer bowl and combine well. Hawkins adds some chocolate chips for good measure. Drop dollops on a baking sheet and bake 8 to 10 minutes. Voila, home-baked cookies 

 

 

 

The savory side 

 

Moving on to some tips for preparing steak, Hawkins preheated a cast iron skillet and poured in a little olive oil and added butter, for flavor.  

 

"I like to do both sides (of the steak) with salt and pepper and press it in," she said, seasoning prime filet mignon before adding it to the skillet with tongs. 

 

"You want a nice sizzle," the chef said. "Give it about three minutes on each side. Look for a nice mahogany crust."  

 

Thicker cuts can be rolled on the sides to sear or cook, especially if they are bacon-wrapped.  

 

Cooking times and temperatures will vary with the size and shape of the cut and your desired degree of doneness, but keep in mind that the temperature of steak will continue to rise some after it's removed from heat and resting. If using a thermometer, you may want to remove it when it registers five degrees lower than the desired doneness. (certifiedangusbeef.com guidelines for doneness temperatures are 125 degrees F for rare; 135 for medium-rare; 145 for medium; 150 for medium-well; and 160 for well-done.)  

 

With the tantalizing aroma of filet mignon lingering in the demonstration kitchen, Hawkins continued preparing students who will give their own demos soon in front of the class. But each left with some ideas for tomorrow's holiday. Dine in, or dine out, make yours a Happy Valentine's Day. 

 

 

 

MARBLED TRUFFLES 

 

Servings: 30 

 

 

 

6 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped 

 

1/2 cup whipping cream 

 

1 teaspoon vanilla 

 

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips 

 

1 tablespoon butter or margarine 

 

2 tablespoons orange-flavored liqueur 

 

3/4 cup confectioner's sugar, sifted 

 

 

 

n Melt white chocolate with 1/4 cup of the whipping cream and the vanilla in heavy, medium saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Pour into 9-inch square pan. Refrigerate. 

 

n Melt semisweet chocolate chips with butter and remaining 1/4 cup whipping cream in heavy, medium saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Whisk in liqueur. 

 

n Pour chocolate mixture over refrigerated white chocolate mixture. Refrigerate until mixture is fudgy, but soft, about 1 hour. 

 

n Shape about 1 tablespoonful of the mixture into 1 1/4-inch ball. To shape, roll mixture in your palms. Place balls on waxed paper. Repeat. 

 

n Sift confectioner's sugar into shallow bowl. 

 

n Roll balls in powdered sugar, place in petit four or candy cases (if coating mixture won't stick because truffle has set, roll between your palms until outside is soft). 

 

n Truffles can be refrigerated 2-3 days, or frozen several weeks.  

 

(Source: Chef Mary Helen Hawkins, MUW Culinary Arts Institute)

 

Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.

 

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