February 10, 2013

Bon Appetit! Je T’aime!

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News flash: Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. But fear not; one of the best qualities of being a college-aged cook is that one can get creative using as few ingredients as possible. So ditch the store bought candy or the frantic call to Insomnia Cookies and make this Valentine’s Day one to remember. How about a tour around the world with delicious, internationally inspired and super chocolatey Valentine’s Day desserts using what you probably already have in your kitchen?


Let’s start with some simple recipes that hit close to home. Fruit and chocolate always make for a light yet decadent pair, and are absolutely delicious.

Chocolate-covered Strawberries: You really can’t go wrong with these foolproof and ultra-romantic treats. First, melt eight ounces of dark chocolate with ½ cup heavy cream in a microwave. Dip fresh strawberries (long stem strawberries will save you a lot of mess) in the chocolate and arrange them on a plate. Allow the chocolate to set for an hour in the refrigerator or two hours at room temperature.

Chocolate Raspberry Cups: If you want something a little different from the usual chocolate-covered strawberry, give these cups a try. You can use store bought chocolate shells or make your own by flipping over a muffin tin and pouring chocolate over the cups. If you’re going with the latter, stick the pan in the refrigerator for an hour or let the cups sit at room temperature for two hours to harden. When those are set, fill them up with raspberries and drizzle some chocolate on top.


Churros: The combination of cinnamon and melted chocolate make these an irresistible dessert. First, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Unfold and cut puff pastry sheets in half lengthwise, and cut each half crosswise into inch-wide strips. Place the strips on a lightly greased, parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for ten minutes or until golden brown. While the churros are baking, combine a quarter-cup sugar and one teaspoon of cinnamon powder. After you remove the pastry strips from the oven, dip each into melted butter and roll them in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Let the churros stand on a wire rack five minutes, or until dry, and serve with melted chocolate for dipping.


Chocolate Empanadas: These doughy, stuffed pastries are so delicious it’s really no wonder that dozens of countries have their own spin on the dish. To make a gooey chocolate version, first unfold one thawed pastry sheet on a floured work surface. Then roll the pastry sheet into a 16-inch square and brush it with milk. Cut the pastry sheet into four-inch squares and place one teaspoon of chocolate chips in the center of each pastry. Fold each pastry over the filling to form a triangle and crimp the edges with a fork to seal. Make sure to prick the tops of the pastries with a fork to allow moisture to escape during the baking process. When that’s done, place the pastries onto a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. When the empanadas are cool, sprinkle them with confectioner’s sugar.


Mousse: An easy mousse is a great way to give a nod to Paris, the city of love. Gently fold melted chocolate into whipped cream or Cool Whip until you see chocolate ribbons throughout. Spoon the mixture into cups and refrigerate for an hour. Top with fresh raspberries before serving.


Fondue: Fondue may sound fancy, but the college version is probably the easiest recipe ever. Just mix eight ounces of chocolate chips and a half-cup of heavy cream in a bowl and microwave until melted. Dip fresh fruit, marshmallows, pound cake cubes, bite-sized cookies or whatever else your heart desires and enjoy. This fondue is best served in small doses, though, because the chocolate will begin to harden if it sits out for too long.


Italian Cupcakes: You definitely don’t have to break bank for a taste of la dolce vita. Have a box of chocolate cake mix lying around? Make Italian cupcakes! Intensify the flavors by adding two tablespoons of Italian espresso to the mix. When the cupcakes are cooled, frost with Nutella instead of canned frosting.

Gelato with Amaretti Cookies: If you really don’t want to bake, you can always sprinkle crush amaretti cookies over a bowl of chocolate gelato.

Greece and the Middle East

Baklava: Baklava may not be a traditional Valentine’s Day dessert, but it should be. It’s pretty easy to make, too. Thaw phyllo dough sheets as per the directions on the package. While the phyllo dough is thawing, brush melted butter on the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch pan. Place a phyllo sheet in the pan and brush it with melted butter. Sprinkle mini chocolate chips, sliced almonds or powdered walnuts on top. Repeat this process until you have a stack of 15-20 sheets. With a sharp knife, cut the baklava into pieces and bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown.

Original Author: Karina Parikh