All Aboard the Culinary Love Train

Quick! According to the greeting card authorities, by next Wednesday, Feb. 14, we're all supposed to be blissfully and hopelessly in love. With only six days away to a life of eternal happiness, we had better get busy.

I heart brownies.(Kim O'Donnel)

To help you gear up for love and its many splendored ways, I've got a six-day plan that will guarantee some kind of love. Beginning today, I'll offer recipes, love potions and the many ways we can all board the culinary love train. I'll be your conductor, your cruise director, your witch doctor -- whatever you need me to be in time for Cupid's arrival.

First thing's first. Chocolate. It is possibly one of (if not the most) important ingredient of a luscious Valentine's fete. It hardly matters in which form it materializes -- store-bought hearts, frou-frou truffles, a soufflé for two -- but chocolate should be part of the love equation. I'm partial to a home-spun chocolatey affair. Whether you're the baker or the recipient, there's something about a homemade treat that screams romance from a tall building. It's heart to mouth resuscitation.

To get started, try on these brownies (below) for size; they're gooey, fudgy and love to be molded into cutesy heart shapes (available at Sur La Table), if you're so inclined. I've got a few favorite brownies in my recipe vault, but I love this version for its addition of cherries, particularly at this time of year with childhood associations of chocolate-covered cherries in the box.

Don't worry that cherries are out of season; a bag of unsweetened frozen fruit, thawed and thoroughly drained, does the job beautifully. So, chop, chop, on with your luscious self -- and get into the kitchen!

For more romantic chatter, join the culinary love-a-thon, today at 1 ET. And for yet another brownie variation, check out Leigh Lambert's man-catcher brownie in this week's Food section.

Black Forest Brownies
Adapted from "A Passion for Desserts" by Emily Luchetti

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
8 ounces (about 24) sweet red cherries (Note: With fresh cherries out of season in February, I used a bag of unsweetened frozen bings, thawed and drained well)
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon kirsch, Chambord or almond extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper.

In a double boiler, melt chocolates together with the butter, until smooth and fluid. While chocolate is melting, cut cherries into dice.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg. Whisk in chocolate mixture and kirsch. Mix in flour, salt and baking powder. Gently mix in the cut cherries. Spread batter into prepared pan.

Bake until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out almost clean, but still with a little batter on it, up to 40 minutes. Let brownies cool in the pan.

When ready to serve, place a plate or cutting board on top of the pan. Invert and carefully peel off parchment paper. Cut brownies into two-inch squares or cut into shapes depending on your mood.

Makes about 16 2-inch brownies.

By Kim ODonnel |  February 8, 2007; 9:16 AM ET Desserts , Valentine's Day
Previous: Hostess 911 | Next: We Heart Chocolate


Please email us to report offensive comments.

Sorry, Kim, the 14th is next Wednesday. Don't be mad at your fiance if you don't get anything Tuesday! ;-)

Posted by: Herndon | February 8, 2007 10:30 AM

Can you omit the cherries, I'm not a fan. Is there anything else I can subtitude them for?

Posted by: Annandale | February 8, 2007 10:51 AM

Doh. Oh Herndon, thanks for catching.

Posted by: Kim O'Donnel | February 8, 2007 11:13 AM

Annandale, you might try chopped dried apricots resuscitated in warm schnapps or any liqueur, but I know not everyone loves apricots like I do. There are lots of other fruits that love chocolate, but I can't think of anything that's in season right now. Maybe bits of crystallized ginger, if you're into that kind of thing. Any berries would work, if you can find them reasonably fresh. Or frozen raspberries would be nice!

Posted by: Sass | February 8, 2007 11:51 AM

PS: Kim, I can't believe I announced myself as the Lard Girl. I should really not be allowed into events that require networking.

Posted by: Sass | February 8, 2007 11:53 AM

Missed the chat today, here are some the pizza guy -- shape the crust like a heart.

To the lamb lady -- check out Trader Joe's frozen rack of lamb. It's already seasoned with rosemary, garlic, thyme, etc. Cooking directions are included. Fantastic and super easy! They used to sell it also unseasoned, but I haven't seen it that way in a long time. The pre-seasoned stuff is really great, though.

Re: Honey Bunches of Oats...cute nickname. My daughter loves that cereal. She calls it Honey Bunches of Mommy (shrug...she's 6).

For Val dinner...not sure yet. One of my favorite things to share w/ my husband is a huge plate of pan-browned brussels sprouts w/ toasted pine nuts and lots of garlic, some crusty bread, and a great bottle of wine. Sounds weird, but it's very tasty, and sharing from the same plate is very romantic. Nice light don't want to feel weighed down on Valentine's Day!! ;-)

Posted by: Vienna | February 8, 2007 7:18 PM

Instead of cherries, rasberries might work. or strawberries.

Posted by: Yum | February 9, 2007 9:51 AM

What about blueberries? THey are small enough that you can skip the chopping.

Hm. Now that I think of it, that does sound pretty good.

Posted by: WMA | February 9, 2007 10:56 AM

Brownies are sitting on counter as I type. Husband gave them an "excellent". Great praise from a chocolate and anything black forest expert.

Thanks for the recipe, your chats and blog.

Posted by: yaya | February 13, 2007 2:13 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.


© 2010 The Washington Post Company