Sweet, luscious snacks for loved ones

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Valentine’s Day naturally brings thoughts of hearts, flowers, sweetness and love. Because it also occurs during American Heart Month, it’s a perfect opportunity to start taking care of your own heart and the hearts of loved ones. 

Part of the charm of the day’s celebrations is in giving family and friends flavorful foods to enjoy from chocolates and candies to other sugary treats. However, the festivities don’t have to be completely focused on unhealthy bites in order to make someone feel special. 

This year, it can be easy to share in the fun of Valentine’s Day by serving those you love with sweet, seasonal treats. For example, these Frosted Watermelon Cutouts make for ideal snacks for children and adults alike whether it’s an after-school treat or a sweet dessert with just three ingredients, heart-shaped cookie cutters and minimal time spent in the kitchen. 

If you’re really looking to impress that special someone, this Watermelon and Chocolate Dessert Board calls for creativity and plenty of tasty morsels like berries, cashews, almonds and dark chocolate. Without any baking or cooking required, simply spread out the ingredients for a platter that’s just as visually appealing as it is appetizing. 

Both recipes include the benefits of watermelon, which boasts plenty of vitamin C to boost the immune system’s defenses as a cholesterol-free, fat-free and sodium-free food. Plus, watermelon draws its red color from the powerful antioxidant lycopene (12.7 mg per serving), which may help protect cells from damage, and the healthy treat is American Heart Association Heart-Check Certified with just 80 calories per serving, making it the perfect centerpiece for Valentine’s Day recipes. 

Find more Valentine’s Day inspiration and recipes at watermelon.org. 

Watermelon and Chocolate
Dessert Board

Servings: 6-8

1/2 medium seedless watermelon, cut into wedges and cubes

1 cup fresh raspberries

1 cup fresh red cherries

1 cup strawberries, trimmed and halved

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/3 cup roasted, salted cashews

1 cup chocolate covered almonds

1 bar dark chocolate, broken into squares

1 cup coconut chips

mint leaves, for garnish

On serving board, arrange watermelon in center and surround with raspberries, cherries, strawberries, cranberries, cashews, almonds, chocolate and coconut chips. Scatter mint leaves around board for garnish. (Family Features)

Pasticcino di Cioccolato con Lampone

Individual chocolate cakes with fesh raspberries

Makes 8 servings

1-1/3 cups cake flour, sifted

1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

6 large eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1 pint fresh raspberries

Vegetable cooking spray

Pinch of sea salt

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Spray a standard muffin tin with nonstick spray or fill 8 of the cups with paper or foil liners.

Sift the flour, 1/3 cup of cocoa, salt, and baking soda into a bowl and set aside. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and set aside.

Combine the eggs and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Set the bowl over a pan partially filled with simmering water. The water should not touch the bowl. Using a whisk, beat the egg-sugar mixture until it feels very warm to the touch and all of the sugar has dissolved. Immediately remove the bowl from the heat and transfer it to the electic mixer.

Whip the egg-sugar mixture on medium speed for 3 to 4 minutes until it triples in volume and is very thick and light colored. Add the vanilla and whip 2 to 3 seconds longer to blend. Remove the bowl from the mixer and gently fold in the flour-cocoa mixture.

Place about 11/2 cups of the batter in a separate bowl and fold in the melted butter. Do this gently, as you do not want to overwork the batter. Fold this into the remaining batter. Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins. Bake in the center of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick or knife inserted in the center of one cupcake comes out clean. Remove and cool completely on a rack.

While the cupcakes are cooling, combine the heavy cream with the confectioners’ sugar and the remaining 2 tablespoons of cocoa, beat into soft peaks, and set aside.

Remove the cupcakes from the tin and place them on dessert plates. Spoon the whipped cream on top, divide the raspberries among the plates and serve. (MC)

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