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February is for food lovers

(Flickr/Kumar's Edit/https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

February, the month of love and romance, is almost here. During this month, some couples book romantic getaways, or extravagant dinners. Some give rose bouquets, or one perfect single rose, while others gift sparkling jewelry or beautiful heart-shaped boxes filled with chocolates. Whatever romantic path you choose this February, curl up in front of a roaring fire, or watch a romantic movie and indulge in an amazingly decadent dessert.

Sinfully Dark and Delicious Chocolate Cupcakes

o 360 g (3 cups) flour

o 400 g (2 cups) sugar

o 65 g (2/3 cups) cocoa powder, sifted

o 8 g (2 tsp) baking soda

o 1.2 g (1/4 tsp) salt

o 500 ml (2 cups) water

o 2 eggs

o 250 ml (1 cup) Canola oil

o 10 ml (2 tsp) pure vanilla extract

o 45 ml (3 tbsp) cider vinegar

o 220 g (1¼ cups) semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

Preheat over to 180 C (350 F). In food processor, combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add in water, Canola oil, vanilla and vinegar and combine. Divide batter among 30 paper-lined muffin cups. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Transfer muffin tray to a rack and let cool completely.

Melt chocolate chips in microwave for 1½ minutes. Stir with a fork until completely melted. Spoon a heaping teaspoon of melted chocolate over cupcakes and decorate with pink and/or red candies.

Scrumptious Strawberry Layer Cake

White cake

o 300 g (2¼ cups) flour, plus more for dusting the pans

o 240 ml (1 cup) 1% milk, or unsweetened almond beverage

o 6 large egg whites, at room temperature

o 10 ml (2 tsp) pure vanilla extract

o 350 g (1¾ cups) granulated sugar

o 16 g (4 tsp) baking powder

o 1 g (1/8 tsp) salt

o 170 g (3/4 cup) unsalted butter or vegan margarine, softened but still cool

Strawberry sauce

o 600 g (3 cups) strawberries, sliced

o 100 g (1/2 cup) sugar

o 15 ml (1 tbsp) lemon juice

o 1.25 ml (1/4 tsp) pure vanilla extract

Whipped cream (can be replaced with 500 ml non-dairy whipped topping)

o 500 ml (2 cups) whipping cream

o 20 ml (4 tsp) pure vanilla extract

o 10.5 g (4 tsp) icing sugar

o 2 (454 g) boxes fresh strawberries, washed, dried and hulled


To make the cake, preheat oven to 180 C (350 F). Spray 3 23-cm (9-inch) round spring form pans with Canola oil spray and line the bottoms with parchment paper rounds.

In a food processor, add flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and combine. Add butter or margarine, pulsing until mixture resembles moist crumbs, with no flour remaining. Add the milk, egg whites and vanilla into the mixture and pulse until combined. Stop and scrape the sides of the bowl. Pulse again.

Divide batter evenly between the three prepared cake pans. Spread batter to edges and smooth tops. Tap to remove bubbles.

Arrange pans at least 7 cm (3 inches) from the oven walls and 7 cm apart. (If oven is small, place pans on separate racks in staggered fashion, to allow for air circulation.) Bake until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean, 35-45 minutes. Let cakes rest in pans for 3 minutes. Loosen cake from sides of pan with an offset spatula or knife. Let cool completely before removing from pans.

To make the strawberry sauce, combine strawberries, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a gentle simmer until the strawberries are soft and the syrup is thickened and reduced by 1/3 to 1/2 of its original volume, approximately 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Chill before using.

To make the whipped cream, beat cream and vanilla until soft peaks form. Sprinkle in sugar and continue beating until peaks stand on their own.

To assemble, cut 3 7-cm (3 inch) strips of parchment paper. Lay them in a triangle pattern on the outside edge of a platter to protect the platter from drips. Place first layer of cake over parchment paper. Cover cake with 1/3 of the whipped cream or non-dairy whipped topping and place 1/3 of the fresh strawberries on top. Spoon strawberry sauce over the fresh berries. Repeat the same steps with the other two layers. Carefully remove the parchment paper strips.

Keep refrigerated until serving.


Spiked Cranberry and Pineapple Loaf

o 150 g (3/4 cup) sugar

o 60 g (1/4 cup) margarine or butter

o 1 egg, lightly beaten

o 240 g (2 cups) flour

o 4 g (1 tsp) baking powder

o 3 g (1/2 tsp) baking soda

o 2.5 g (1/2 tsp) salt

o 170 g (3/4 cup) undrained crushed pineapples

o 120 g (1 cup) dried cranberries

o 60 ml (1/4 cup) dry sherry

o 35 g (1/2 cup) almonds


Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F). Prepare a loaf pan with Canola oil spray.

Heat sherry in microwave for 1 minute. Add in cranberries and soak for 5 minutes, then drain.

In a food processor, cream sugar and margarine. Add egg and combine. Alternately mix in flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and crushed pineapple. Stir in cranberries and almonds. Pour into a loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Let cool in pan on a cooling rack. Run an offset spatula around the outside of the cake. Turn out on rack.

This dessert is extra delicious when served with whole cranberry sauce spiked with extra dry sherry.


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