Hearts, flowers, and dessert

Cooking with Cathie

Cathie CampbellFebruary 9, 2012 

I have to admit that Valentine's Day has never been one of my favorite holidays, but I have been a dessert fan for a long time. Fine chocolates are always welcome, too!

In my elementary school days, I did look forward to arts and crafts time for making shoebox "mail boxes" to hold all our Valentines. But a kid had to put a lot of thought into choosing which classmate was going to get which Valentine (we mostly used store-bought ones). You didn't want a card that seemed rather mushy to go to a kid you spent most of your time trying to avoid. It was tricky business!

When my boys were in school, I used to enjoy bringing cupcakes and juice or punch to the classroom. Nowadays, that probably isn't even allowed. But luckily, we are free to bake and eat whatever we please, even if it isn't the healthiest choice all the time. If you would enjoy some old-fashioned baking time in the kitchen so you can present your family with some Valentine's Day treats, I hope you find something to your liking here.

Mascarpone cheesecake with raspberries

  • 1/2 cups strong brewed coffee, room temperature
  • 1/2 tablespoons instant espresso granules
  • tablespoons dark rum (or substitute 4 1/2 tablespoons Kahlua)
  • large egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 pounds mascarpone
  • 3/4 cup cold heavy cream
  • ounces (42 to 60, depending on size) ladyfingers
  • 1/2 tablespoons cocoa, preferably Dutch-processed
  • 1/4 cup grated semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (optional)
  1. Stir coffee, espresso, and 5 tablespoons rum (or 2 1/2 tablespoons Kahlua) in a wide bowl or baking dish until espresso dissolves; set aside.
  2. In bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat yolks at low speed until just combined. Add sugar and salt and beat at medium-high speed until pale yellow, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula once or twice. Add remaining 4 tablespoons rum (or 2 tablespoons Kahlua) and beat at medium speed until just combined, 20 to 30 seconds; scrape bowl. Add mascarpone and beat at medium speed until no lumps remain, 30 to 45 seconds, scraping down bowl once or twice. Transfer mixture to large bowl and set aside.
  3. In now-empty mixer bowl (no need to clean bowl), beat cream at medium speed until frothy, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Increase speed to high and continue to beat until cream holds stiff peaks, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes longer. Using rubber spatula, fold one-third of whipped cream into mascarpone mixture to lighten, then gently fold in remaining whipped cream until no white streaks remain. Set mascarpone mixture aside.
  4. Working one at a time, drop half of ladyfingers into coffee mixture, roll, remove and transfer to 13-by-9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. (Do not leave ladyfingers in coffee mixture; entire process should take no longer than 2 to 3 seconds for each cookie.) Arrange soaked cookies in single layer in baking dish, breaking or trimming ladyfingers as needed to fit neatly into dish.
  5. Spread half of mascarpone mixture over ladyfingers; use rubber spatula to spread mixture to sides and into corners of dish and smooth surface. Place 2 tablespoons cocoa in fine-mesh strainer and dust cocoa over mascarpone.
  6. Repeat dipping and arrangement of ladyfingers; spread remaining mascarpone mixture over ladyfingers and dust with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa. Wipe edges of dish with dry paper towel. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 6 to 24 hours. Sprinkle with grated chocolate, if using; cut into pieces and serve chilled.

Chewy brownies

You can use this recipe to go with the Smores brownies recipe, but just take it to the unbaked batter stage. See notes at end of recipe.

  • 1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso (optional)
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water
  • ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
  • tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • large eggs
  • large egg yolks
  • teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into 1/2 -inch pieces
  1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 350. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving about a one-inch overhang on all sides. Spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Whisk cocoa, espresso powder, and boiling water together in large bowl until smooth. Add unsweetened chocolate and whisk until chocolate is melted. Whisk in melted butter and oil. (Mixture may look curdled.) Add eggs, yolks and vanilla and continue to whisk until smooth and homogeneous. Whisk in sugar until fully incorporated. Add flour and salt and mix with rubber spatula until combined. Fold in bittersweet chocolate pieces.
  3. Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake until toothpick inserted halfway between edge and center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack and cool 1 1/2 hours.
  4. Using foil overhang, lift brownies from pan. Return brownies to wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour. Cut into 2-inch squares and serve. Brownies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to four days.

Recipe notes: For the chewiest texture, it's important to cool brownies completely before cutting. Makes 24 brownies.

If your baking dish is glass, cool the brownies 10 minutes, then remove them from the pan to a wire rack (otherwise, the heat retention of glass can lead to overbaking).

Smores brownies


  • cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted


  • Chewy brownies recipe (just to batter stage)
  • bag mini marshmallows
  • Additional graham crackers, broken into pieces
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Line the pan with foil, leaving some overhang, and then butter the foil; set aside.
  2. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and salt, mixing well. Add the melted butter and, using a fork, toss until the entire mixture is moist. Dump the graham cracker mixture into the prepared baking pan, pressing it into an even layer. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare your brownie recipe. Pour the brownie batter over the cooked graham cracker crust, spreading it into an even layer. Bake the brownies according to the directions.
  4. As soon as the brownies come out of the oven, switch the oven to broil. Pour the bag of mini marshmallows onto the brownies, covering it in an even layer. Pop the pan back in the oven for a few minutes. Keep a close eye on them -- you want them to start to char so you get that smores flavor, but don't want to completely burn them.
  5. As soon as the pan comes out of the oven, top the marshmallow layer with the pieces of graham cracker, pressing down slightly so that the pieces of graham cracker get nestled into the marshmallow layer.
  6. Cool completely and then cut into squares. Store at room temperature in an airtight container. Makes up to 32 brownies, depending on how they are cut.

Strawberry angel food cake dessert

When you need something easy and refreshing.

  • (10-inch) angel food cake
  • (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • cup sugar
  • (8-ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • quart fresh strawberries, sliced
  • (18-ounce) jar strawberry glaze
  1. Crumble the cake into a 9-by-13-inch dish.
  2. Beat the cream cheese and sugar in a medium bowl until light and fluffy. Fold in whipped topping. Mash the cake down with your hands and spread the cream cheese mixture over the cake.
  3. In a bowl, combine strawberries and glaze until strawberries are evenly coated. Spread over cream cheese layer. Chill until serving.Makes 18 servings.

The Sierra Star is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service