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Valentine’s Day chocolate treats

Maureen Malloy | Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Although many people identify Feb. 14 with dates, flowers and jewelry, I immediately think of decadent, chocolate treats. Valentine’s Day provides a great opportunity to host a late-night dessert party. Serving only desserts is a fun and economical way to entertain. Whether you are hosting a special someone or a group of friends, it’s safe to say they will enjoy a night filled with bites of rich truffles, chocolate-covered strawberries and buttery blondies capped off with steaming mugs of hot chocolate.

Coffee Chocolate Truffle Kisses

9 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened)

3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup heavy cream

4 teaspoons instant espresso powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Parchment paper

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Break chocolate into small pieces. In a food processor, pulse together chocolate and butter until chocolate is finely chopped. In a small saucepan, whisk together cream, espresso powder and salt and bring just to a boil. Pour hot cream mixture over chocolate mixture and pulse until smooth. Transfer mixture to a bowl. Let mixture stand at cool room temperature until just firm enough to pipe, about two hours. Oil a large baking sheet and line with parchment paper. Transfer chocolate mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip. Pipe mixture onto baking sheet to form one-by-one-inch cones, or “kisses.” Chill kisses, uncovered, until firm, at least three hours and up to one day. Sift cocoa powder into a small bowl. Working with one kiss at a time, roll in cocoa powder to coat. Kisses keep, in one layer in an airtight container at cool room temperature or chilled, two weeks. Makes about 64 kisses. Courtesy of Epicurious.com

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

3 ounces white chocolate, chopped

1 pound strawberries with stems (about 20), washed and dried very well

Put the semisweet and white chocolates into two separate heatproof medium bowls. Fill two medium saucepans with a couple of inches of water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Turn off the heat; set the bowls of chocolate over the water to melt. Stir until smooth. (Alternatively, melt the chocolates in a microwave at half power, for one minute, stir and then heat for another minute or until melted.) Once the chocolates are melted and smooth, remove from the heat. Line a sheet pan with parchment or waxed paper. Holding the strawberry by the stem, dip the fruit into the dark chocolate, lift and twist slightly, letting any excess chocolate fall back into the bowl. Set strawberries on the parchment paper. Repeat with the rest of the strawberries. Dip a fork in the white chocolate and drizzle the white chocolate over the dipped strawberries. Set the strawberries aside until the chocolate sets, about 30 minutes. Courtesy of Television Food Network, G.P.

Monster Macadamia Nut Blondies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 3/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar

2 whole eggs, at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup chopped macadamia nuts

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. In a bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl or in a mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and creamy, then beat in the eggs and vanilla. Gently stir in the flour mixture, then the macadamia nuts. Mix until well blended and pour into the baking dish. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the dish comes out clean, about 35 minutes.

Let blondies cool in pan. To serve, cut into 9 large bars.