You’ve probably heard of cookie exchanges…they happen quite a bit around Christmastime. Well, how about a Valentine cookie exchange? I was invited to one a few years ago and it was great! It’s always fun to make (and eat) Valentine-themed treats! I was a little short on time, so I needed to make something fairly easy, but still wanted it to be very yummy. I had seen lots of recipes for cake mix bars and cookies, so I thought I’d come up with my own version of Red Velvet bars made with cake mix. Any Red Velvet recipe seems appropriate for Valentine’s Day, right? Continue reading
When Valentine’s Day comes around, I think of chocolate and cherries. So when I found this recipe at BettyCrocker.com, I thought it would be the perfect thing to make! The recipe I’m sharing here is a little different, because I made homemade brownies (adapted from the Hershey recipe) instead of using a mix. It really doesn’t take that much longer to do. And I topped these cherry-swirled brownies with a layer of dark chocolate–it never hurts to add more chocolate to a recipe! 🙂
I had some friends sample these and they all loved them and commented on how rich and chocolatey they were. They really are pretty decadent…definitely worthy to make for your Valentine, or for dessert any time of the year!
The cherry cream cheese filling has a mild cherry flavor, which everyone liked, but if you’d like the cherry flavor to be stronger, add a little cherry flavoring or extract, or some extra maraschino cherry juice and cherries (I’ve noted that in the recipe below).
DARK CHOCOLATE–COVERED CHERRY SWIRL BROWNIES by NancyCreative, adapted from Betty Crocker and Hershey’s
Make in an 11 x 7″ brownie pan
For the brownies:
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup Hershey’s unsweetened baking cocoa
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
For cherry cream cheese mixture:
- 1 (8-ounce) package light or regular cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup chopped well-drained maraschino cherries
- 1 teaspoon maraschino cherry juice
- optional: 1/4 teaspoon cherry flavoring or extract, or some extra chopped maraschino cherries, for a stronger cherry flavor
- 1 egg
For dark chocolate layer:
- 1 (10-ounce) package dark chocolate chips
- 5 Tablespoons butter
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease an 11 x 7″ brownie pan (or a 9″ square baking pan if you don’t have a brownie pan); set aside.
Brownies: Stir together melted butter, sugar, and vanilla in medium bowl. Add eggs and beat well with a spoon. In another medium bowl, stir together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt; gradually add to egg mixture, beating until well blended; set aside (this batter is pretty thick, FYI).
Cream Cheese Mixture: In medium bowl, beat softened cream cheese, sugar, cherries, cherry juice, and egg with a spoon; set aside.
Spread half the brownie batter in the baking pan. Spread cream cheese mixture over batter. Drop small dollops of remaining brownie batter over the cream cheese mixture, spread slightly with the back of a spoon, and then swirl cream cheese mixture and brownie batter with a knife.
Bake at 350˚F in an 11 x 7″ pan for 30-34 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out almost clean. If you bake this in a 9 x 9″ pan, your baking time might be a little longer. Let cool 30 to 40 minutes.
When brownies have cooled, top with dark chocolate layer: In microwaveable bowl, heat chocolate chips and butter, uncovered on high for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring until smooth. Spread over brownies. Refrigerate 40 to 50 minutes or until layer sets more, then cut into squares and serve (the dark chocolate layer may not be totally set, but you’ll still be able to cut the brownies into squares). Store covered in refrigerator…
…that is, if you happen to have any left! 🙂
Have you made, or do you plan on making, any special Valentine treats?
I found some great ideas for packaging homemade Valentine treats over at Martha Stewart.com…there are 13 different ideas altogether and I thought I’d show you a few of my favorites! The photos I’m posting are all from Martha’s website. Anyone would love getting some sweet treats wrapped up like these for Valentine’s Day!
I love this idea for homemade heart-covered treat wrappers! You can use these for wrapping sweet breads, stacks of cookies, or whatever other goodies you’re wanting to give.
To make the wrapper, just fold a piece of red or pink tissue paper in half three times, forming eight layers; then use a heart-shaped craft punch to cut out hearts (or you could cut the hearts out free-form with scissors if you want to make your own heart shapes). Cover the surface of your ironing board with paper towels and place a sheet of wax paper on top. Then arrange the cut-out tissue hearts on the waxed paper and cover with another sheet of wax paper. Run an iron (set on medium heat) lightly over the layers of paper to set. If you don’t want to use waxed paper, you could purchase some cello wrap, tinted pink or red (or even clear) and use that to wrap up your goodies.
Tie your sweet bundles up with some waxed twine in red or pink, some red raffia, or some pretty ribbon (1/8″ to 1/4″ wide would work) and add a cute little gift tag if you want. You can download some fun Valentine gift tag designs for free at Heather Bullard.com…click HERE to see them! The tags also look great used with treat bags the way Heather has shown them.
Another idea I liked at Martha’s site were her cookie boxes…
You can just buy standard white or brown paper boxes and place your cookies in individual cupcake liners (if you need jumbo liners, you should be able to find plain white ones at your local craft store in the baking supply section; Wal-Mart carries them, too). Tie up the boxes with pretty ribbon, and you’re done!
The last idea I wanted to show was the set of miniature gift bags…
There is a free template on Martha’s site that you can download with the 3 patterns shown above. Just follow the instructions for putting them together and fill them up with candy or other goodies.
Hope this gives you some inspiration for your Valentine’s Day treat-giving!