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If chocolate is your weakness… or your source of strength, why not a romantic chocolate fondue for Valentine’s Day… or any time a romanic dinner is called for.

Here’s a quick, simple recipe.

10 oz (280 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup (125 mL) cream (18% to 35% MF)
2 to 3 tbsp (30 to 45 mL) favorite liquor or liqueur (optional)
Dippers and dunkables (see Tips)

Combine chocolate and cream in a 1 qt (1 L) saucepan. Set over low heat; melt chocolate, stirring frequently. When mixture is smooth, stir in liquor or liqueur, if using. (Fondue can be prepared up to this point 3 to 4 hours ahead; a few minutes before serving, reheat over low heat or carefully in the microwave.)

Pour chocolate mixture into a fondue pot. Set over a heat source. Serve with your choice of dipper and dunkables.

Makes 6 servings

TIPS:

If using alcohol, try rum, kirsch, cognac, brandy, triple sec, Grand Marnier, Kahlua, Chambord, Amaretto, etc.

Any of the following would be great to dip or dunk: fruit (e.g. strawberries, bananas oranges, mandarins, apples, pears, seedless grapes), pretzels, potato chips, cookies, biscotti, pound cake, angel food cake or brownies.

For tips on setting up a romantic dinner for two at home, see page 10 of our February roomplanners issue at http://roomplanners.com/pdfs/02-2010.pdf

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Here’s a great wine and cheese fondue recipe for Valentine’s Day! With or without wine, it makes a very romantic dinner for two. Or invite a few favorite friends over for an extended evening of grazing over an open flame!

1-1/2 cups (375 mL) dry white wine
1/2 lb (250 g) Emmenthal cheese, grated (about 2 cups/500 mL)
1/2 lb (250 g) Gruyere cheese, grated (about 2 cups/500 mL)
1 tbsp (15 mL) cornstarch
2 tbsp (30 mL) Kirsch
Dippers and dunkables (see Tip)

Pour wine into a 2 qt (2 L) saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

Add cheeses, about 1/2 cup (125 mL) at a time, whisking constantly in a figure-eight motion (this will prevent cheese from clumping into a ball) and adding more cheese only after previous cheese has melted.

In a small bowl, stir together cornstarch and Kirsch. Add to fondue; bring cheese mixture to a simmer, stirring constantly. Cook over low heat until thickened, about a minute or two.

Pour mixture into a fondue pot. Set over a heat source. Serve with your choice of dippers and dunkables.

Makes 6 servings
TIP:

  • Any of the following would be great to dip or dunk: crusty bread cubes, pretzels, apples, fresh or steamed vegetables (e.g. broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, Chinese pea pods, new potatoes, mushrooms), sausages or ham.

chocolate-pancakes

 Instead of celebrating Valentine’s Day with an expensive dinner at a fancy restaurant, consider serving up a decadent breakfast or brunch for your special someone. Starting the day with Triple Chocolate Pancakes is sure to send out love vibes! After all, who doesn’t love chocolate? And chocolate for breakfast? On Valentine’s Day? But of course!

With cocoa powder and chocolate chips in the pancake batter, you may think you’re making a cake or brownies, but don’t be tempted to pour the batter into a cake pan and pop it in the oven. You really are making pancakes. Very chocolatey pancakes, mind you. Enjoy them with a generous drizzle of chocolate syrup.

If you want to take these pancakes over the top, serve them with slightly softened vanilla or chocolate ice cream. Sliced or frozen (thawed) strawberries would make a delicious and appropriately coloured garnish for a Valentine’s Day breakfast.

Now, prepare to taste the love…..

Triple Chocolate Pancakes
(Makes twelve 3-1/2 inch pancakes)

2 large eggs
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons cooking oil
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Cooking oil, butter or margarine
Chocolate sauce or hot fudge sauce

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs until blended. Add milk and oil; whisk to combine.

In a small bowl, stir together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt until blended. Stir in chocolate chips.

Add dry ingredients to liquid ingredients; whisk just until combined. There should be some lumps in the batter.

Heat frying pan or griddle over medium heat, adding a small amount of oil or butter. Drop about 1/4 cup pancake batter per pancake onto pan, spreading batter slightly. Leave some room between pancakes; they will expand a little during cooking.

Pancakes are ready to flip when the edges appear set and the top is full of bubbles; this will take about 1-1/2 to 2 minutes. Flip pancakes and cook second side until lightly browned, about 45 seconds to 1 minute.

As pancakes cook, serve them immediately or keep them warm in a 200F oven. Continue cooking remaining batter, adding additional oil or butter to the pan as necessary.

Serve pancakes with chocolate or hot fudge sauce.

Tips:
* This recipe is easily doubled, or more appropriately tripled, if you want to make a special Valentine’s Day brunch for lots of loved ones!
* Any leftover cooked pancakes will freeze well.

bigstockphoto_valentine_2486875

Whether you’re planning to eat out or stay in on Valentine’s Day, end the day with a private, indulgent treat that will guarantee sweet dreams.

All you need is a few pieces of your favorite chocolate. After that, it’s all in the presentation… and this red, gold and brown combination is about as rich and elegant as it gets.

Use a gold plate. You can usually find inexpensive ones at a discount store, or if you want to be resourceful, buy a small can of spray paint and spray a few old plates you don’t use much.  (Gold plates and chargers are great at Christmas parties too).

Stack a few pieces of your favorite chocolate on top of each other – they look great if they’re in random sizes broken off a large bar of chocolate. Lay a short stem fresh red rose on the plate, serve on a red placement or red satin cloth… and indulge with your favorite someone!