Sweet Treats For Your Valentine

We associate Valentine’s Day with sweet treats. We also tend to associate chocolate, strawberries, cherries and raspberries with the holiday that celebrates love.
Red Velvet Cake, Queen of Hearts Tart, Dark Chocolate Cake with Raspberry filling and Chocolate Chip Cherry Cookies say Valentine’s Day to the people lucky enough to eat them.
Yes, they are rich and delicious, and they are supposed to be. It’s nice to have something special to make the day something to remember.

Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 c. dried cherries, chopped
1/3 c. hot water
6 tbsp. shortening
6 tbsp. butter, softened
1-1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
3 tsp. grated orange peel
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 c. quick-cooking oats
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. (6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips

In a small bowl, soak cherries in hot water for at least 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, cream the shortening, butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, orange peel and vanilla. Combine the oats, flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in the chocolate chips and cherries with liquid.
Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls two inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 12-14 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool for one minute before removing from pans to wire racks.

Dark Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Filling
Batter Ingredients:
1 (16 oz.) bag good quality special dark chocolate chips
1 tbsp. butter
1/2 c. butter , softened
1 1/4 c. sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. canola oil
1/2 c. milk
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

Filling Ingredients:
1 1/2 c. frozen raspberries
1 tbsp. cornstarch
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 c. sugar

Icing Ingredients:
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
3 tbsp. butter, softened
1/4 c. cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 c. powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F.Grease two nine-inch cake pans, set side.In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate, and the tablespoon of butter in the microwave on medium heat.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the stick of butter, the sugar, and the vanilla.
Stir in the eggs, one at a time until they are all incorporated. Stir in the chocolate. Stir in the salt and oil. Stir in 1 1/4 cups of the flour then the 1/2 cup of milk. Stir in the last 1 1/4 cup on flour and the baking powder.
Pour the batter evenly between the two cake pans and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Filling Directions: In a small sauce pan, combined all of the ingredients and bring to a boil over medium-high heat; set aside to cool.
Icing Directions: In a medium bowl, add all of the ingredients and beat with an electric hand mixer until light and fluffy; set aside.
Cake: When the cake is done, remove it from the oven and let sit for five minutes. Loosen the edges with a knife, and turn them out onto a cooling rack(s) to cool completely.
When the cakes are cool, pour the raspberry filling onto one of the cakes and then top with he other cake. Let cake cool for a while, then spread the frosting on the top and sides. To garnish you can place raspberries on the top and around the cake.

Red Velvet Cake
1 stick butter, softened
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 oz. red food coloring
2 tbsp. cocoa (heaping)
1 c. buttermilk
2 1/4 c. cake flour
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking soda

Icing ingredients:
3 tbsp. flour
1 c. milk
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. butter

In a larger mixer bowl, cream together butter and sugar.
Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
In another bowl, mix red food coloring and cocoa until cocoa is completely dissolved. Add to the creamed mixture.
Mixing on low speed, add buttermilk and flour alternately, beginning and ending with flour. Mix well but do not over-beat to ensure a light fluffy cake. Add vanilla extract mix well. Blend the baking soda into the batter.
Transfer into two floured and greased nine-inch round cake pans.
Bake in preheated 350 degree F oven for 25-30 minutes. Cool.

Icing Directions:
Blend into a small saucepan the three tablespoons of flour and the cup of milk. Add the milk to the flour slowly, avoiding lumps.
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture resembles glue.
Cool completely.
Cream together sugar, butter, and vanilla until fluffy.
Add to cooked mixture. Beat, high speed, until very fluffy. Frost cooled cake.

Queen of Hearts Tart
Crust Ingredients:
1 stick butter, melted
1 tsp. sugar
1 c. flour

Filling Ingredients:
4 c. whole strawberries, hulled and sliced in half
1 1/2 c. warm water
1 1/2 c. sugar
4 tbsp. corn starch
1 3-oz. package strawberry gelatin mix (not instant)
2 drops red food coloring
Whipped cream

Preheat oven to 400°.
Mix all crust ingredients and pat into a 9-inch pie plate. Prick the bottom with a fork and bake for about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool.
Arrange strawberries cut side down on top of top crust.
In a saucepan, cook water, sugar, and corn starch until the mixture becomes clear. Add gelatin and stir until dissolved. Add food coloring. Pour over the strawberries that are in the crust. Chill well.
Top with whipped cream before serving.