We love a holiday, don’t we? Valentine’s Day is no exception. The precise history of this love fest and the patron saint believed to have inspired it may be a bit hazy when you dig deep, but no matter. That in no way inhibits consumers from spending nearly $2 billion on flowers and $2 billion on candy each February, according to a 2013 report by cnn.com.
While Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, those ancient societies didn’t have all the playful food ideas we get to spring on our loved ones today. We can go to town with heart-shaped cookie cutters and forms of every size. Use them for toast, poached eggs, fruits, pizza, sandwiches, waffles and pancakes, desserts, you name it. The things people come up with in the kitchen always interest me.
Here are two ways to express affection that caught my eye: a white chocolate raspberry cheesecake topped with swirling hearts, and heart-shaped Parmesan cheese crisps.
White chocolate delight
If there is a better way to improve on cheesecake, it might be this white chocolate raspberry version. It’s actually simple to make, claims Jacklyn (who goes by one name), creator of the food blog cookingclassy.com.
“You don’t even need a springform pan,” she writes. “You can create your own little piece of art with a few simple tools (aka my secret weapons).”
You will need a clean medicine syringe (preferably a 2-teaspoon size, generally available at any pharmacy), a toothpick or a sharp, pointed knife, and a fine mesh strainer. The recipe calls for a store-bought crust.
“If you’re looking for that dessert that will get that ‘Wow! How did you do that?’ factor without hours of hard work, then this is definitely the dessert you will want to make,” Jacklyn says.
The luxurious combination of white chocolate and raspberry is only enhanced by the flavor of the chocolate crust. (If you prefer making your own chocolate wafer crust, make it in a springform pan and double the cream cheese mixture and raspberry mixture, says the cook.) This cheesecake needs time to set in the refrigerator, so plan accordingly.
The “artwork” on top is the piece de resistance. It’s accomplished with the syringe, your toothpick or knife, and a fairly steady hand.
“Don’t worry about trying to make the heart swirl perfect; it will never be perfect,” Jacklyn says. “Have fun making it and don’t stress too much about the look. Art is never perfect, it’s unique!”
The cheesecake recipe is found below.
Parmesan crisps have been around, but maybe you hadn’t come across them before. Blogger Jodi Durr at meaningfulmama.com makes them in the shape of hearts for Valentine’s Day. Just put freshly grated Parmesan in a heart cookie cutter mold and pat down gently on a silicon baking sheet.
“Then, I removed the mold and made a few others,” Durr shares. “I baked them at 400 degrees for five minutes, or until golden brown.” They’re a great accompaniment for spaghetti, salads, soups and such.
When not in a loving mood, just mound your cheese. Food Network maven Ina Garten’s recipe calls for grating 2 ounces of Parmesan using the side of a box grater that finely grinds the cheese and 2 ounces of Parmesan using the side that makes long shreds of cheese; mix them together. Drop rounded tablespoons of the grated Parmesan on parchment paper in two sheet pans in neat mounds. Bake at 350 degrees for six minutes until golden. Cool slightly, loosen with a metal spatula and serve at room temperature.
Yes, Valentine’s Day quickly approaches. While we’re out buying the 151 million greeting cards expected to be exchanged, adding to the $18.9 billion total Valentine’s spending anticipated by the National Retail Association, remember that saying “I care” comes in many flavors — including raspberry and cheese.
WHITE CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY CHEESECAKE
1 store-bought pre-made oreo crust (save the lid) (graham cracker crust works, too)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/3 cup cold water
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
12 ounces cream cheese (1 packages), softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
6 ounces white chocolate, chopped, or 1 cup white chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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