2/11/09

Valentine's Day is nearly upon us...



...and life has been frantically looking for me, trying to keep me busy, trying to keep me from blogging, and trying to keep me from hanging out with you guys.
Quick, hide me!
Why not go after the likes of Gary Busey? Now, there's a character who should never be left unsupervised.

Speaking of being left unsupervised, I've been happily tasting some of the chocolate treats I've made for the upcoming, romantic event. It's okay. I eat chocolate strictly for the antioxidants. Doesn't everybody?




Uh-oh. I'm having a romantic interlude with Valentino and some tango theme music. Please hold.


Oh, how I would've loved to've shown him something in a size ME.
Let it be known, I'm happily married. But, it's Rudolph Valentino who comes to mind on V-day. He was so incredibly gorgeous, with his masculine, chiseled good looks that, given the opportunity, I would've boiled his boxers and headdress to make tea.

Okay, fantasy trip is coming in for a landing. Crash.

Anyway, so far, I’ve baked a cake, I’ve molded chocolates, and I've also made a batch of my favorite brownies.



And, I figured, if a little chocolate is good for me, then a lot of chocolate must be better, right? Okay. So I glazed these fudgy little bites with more chocolate.


Overkill? Nonsense! As Moliere once said, “We die only once, and for such a looooong time.”




Btw, fondant wings were attached to the back of the hearts with a dot of royal icing. Melted chocolate would also work, but it will take longer to set up.

For the topiary cake, I made the flower pot using my sour cream pound cake recipe, which were baked in 3 8-inch square pans, instead of a Bundt pan. The topiary heart was made by tinting half a recipe of Rice Krispies treats dark green, and shaping it into a heart while mixture was still warm. You can do this by hand, or you can pack the mixture into a small heart-shaped pan and pop it out the pan onto parchment paper, but, leave the heart uncovered while it cools.



I wanted the topiary to have the look of ivy, so instead of rice krispies, I used corn flakes.

But, for a mossy look, rice krispies would be ideal. And, while still warm, I pushed two wooden skewers through the bottom of the heart, to insert into the cake later.
This is also important, I used a bit less than half of the rice krispies treats mixture. This kept the heart from being too top heavy. So keep that in mind, if you try this.

The cake was covered in vanilla buttercream. The roses, leaves, butterfly and ribbons were all made of gum paste.

If you’re short on time, but still want to make something that will impress your sweet Valentine, get yourself a pretty candy mold and mold your own chocolates. This is quick, and if you can melt chocolate, infallible.
Gild the lily by dusting your molded chocolates with edible gold luster dust.



Don't you love that pink glass heart? It's a vintage little box by Fenton. So dainty and feminine, unlike me. Maybe that's why I love it.

Here are the recipes used for the cake, as well as the brownies.


Sour Cream Pound Cake

1 cup unsalted butter
3 cups granulated sugar
6 large eggs
3 cups cake flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
8 ounces sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325°F. Cream butter and sugar until light, 5-7 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift flour, baking soda and salt. Add flour mixture and sour cream, alternately to creamed mixture (beginning and ending with flour mixture) Beat after each addition, Add vanilla extract. Pour in prepared Bundt pan*, and bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes.

*I used 3 8-inch square pans, which were parchment paper lined.



Supernatural Brownies.

16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon instant espresso (I used Medaglia D’oro)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, optional

One 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan, buttered and lined with buttered parchment.

1. Set a rack at the middle level of the oven and preheat to 350°F.

2. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil and turn off heat. Combine butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set over pan of water. Stir occasionally until melted.

3. Whisk eggs together in a large bowl, then whisk in salt, sugars, instant espresso and vanilla. Stir in chocolate and butter mixture, then fold in flour. Add the chopped nuts last, if using.

4. Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for about 30-35 minutes, until top has formed a shiny crust and batter is moderately firm. Cool in pan on a rack. Wrap pan in plastic wrap and keep at room temperature overnight.

5. To cut brownies, unmold onto a cutting board, remove paper, and replace with another cutting board. Turn cake right side up. Cut brownies into 2-inch squares. Makes twenty-four brownies. Adapted from Nick Malgieri's Chocolate.

The brownie hearts were glazed with, what else, more chocolate. Oh, like you weren't thinking it.
It's a well-known fact that I can't function without chocolate. I'd rather share a needle with Amy Winehouse and bid adieu to this cruel world than live without chocolate. So, yeah, you could say I like the stuff.


As for the paper roses, well, most of you know, I was not blessed with a green thumb, so I've compensated over the years, by making my own roses from mediums such as gumpaste, marzipan, buttercream and even chocolate clay.

But, check this out! I made Paper Roses (cue Marie Osmond's song).



I had a stack of sheet music I just couldn't part with, but I didn't know what to do with it either. Then, I remembered my mom showing me how to make crepe paper roses when I was a kid. And a new use for sheet music was born!
I'm so tickled with this new project. I also made roses using coffee filters (see white rose above). I could've tinted the petals, but, I sort of liked it plain.

These roses I give to you, my dear friends...



And may you all get poked by Cupid's arrow this Valentine's Day!
"I know I'm looking forward to getting poked." that's what she said.