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Nontraditional Chocolate Treats for Your Valentine

February 12, 2014

Credit: Becky Luigart-Stayner

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While a heart-shape box of chocolates is the go-to gift of choice on Valentine’s Day, why not break from tradition and try these equally delicious chocolate desserts for that special someone? You can find them all in The Old Farmer’s Almanac Everyday Baking cookbook!

Nontraditional Chocolate Treats for Your Valentine

Triple-Chocolate Pecan Cookies

4 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup packed light-brown sugar
¾ cup sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1½ cups toasted pecans, chopped
1 cup chocolate chips

Melt the chopped chocolate in the top of a double boiler over not-quite-simmering water. Whisk briefly to smooth, then remove the pan from the heat. Set aside. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter in a large bowl, gradually adding the sugars. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then blend in the vanilla. Slowly blend in the melted chocolate. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt into a separate bowl. Stir the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture, about half at a time. Stir in the nuts and chocolate chips, until evenly mixed. Cover the dough and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two large baking sheets or line them with parchment paper. With lightly floured hands, roll the dough into 1½- to 1 ¾-inch-diameter balls. Place on the baking sheets, leaving 2 inches in between. Bake one sheet at a time on the center oven rack for 13 to 14 minutes. When done, the cookies will still seem squishy-soft when pressed gently. Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack and cool completely. Makes about 30 cookies.

Chocolate Mud Bars
“Mud” because of the moist, dark chocolate filling. It’s the best mud you’ll ever eat!

Crust:
1¼ cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Filling:
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
¾ cup sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup cake flour
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Butter an 8-inch square baking pan and set aside.
For crust: Combine the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl. Mix well with your hands. Add the melted butter, stir well with a fork, then rub the ingredients together with your fingers until thoroughly mixed. Press the mixture evenly in the prepared pan to form a level layer on the bottom with a lip extending about ¼ inch up the sides of the pan. (Do not prebake the crust.)
For filling: Combine the butter and chocolate in the top of a double boiler over not-quite-simmering water. When melted, whisk to smooth, then remove the pan from the heat. Scrape the chocolate into a medium bowl and cool to lukewarm. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Whisk the sugar, eggs, and vanilla into the lukewarm chocolate. Stir in the cake flour, mixing until smooth. Stir in the walnuts. Scrape the batter over the crust and smooth with a spoon. Bake on the center oven rack for 35 minutes only—no longer. Cool on a rack. Refrigerate for an hour or so before slicing. Serve at room temperature. Makes 16 bars.

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