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3 dessert recipes for St Valentine’s Day

PUBLISHED: 10:07 28 January 2015 | UPDATED: 10:20 28 January 2015

Sweet treats for Valentine's Day

Sweet treats for Valentine's Day

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Valentine recipes from the Old Rectory Kitchen

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be an overly-schmaltzy occasion and although it’s a time of year when you can get away with a bit of kitsch, just a few little heartfelt touches to show the one you love that you care can often be more appreciated than a full-blown, overdone themed meal! Here is a selection of sweet ideas to make the occasion extra special. The coeur à la crème are tinted blush-pink and the sweetshop treat and nibbles and decorated cookies are a cute touch to accompany a cup of good coffee or a mug of hot chocolate. Wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day!

SWEET TREATS & NIBBLES

These are basically a sweetshop raid to accompany after-dinner coffee or a steaming mug of hot chocolate. Just pick a selection of things that catch your eye (release your inner child!) and then decant into pretty dishes. Here I’ve used cherry lips, chocolate-coated peanuts, strawberry and cream swirled lollipops, fresh raspberries, mini marshmallows, heart shaped chocolates coated in freeze-dried raspberry pieces and pink pralines.

VANILLA MASCARPONE HEARTS

These are essentially coeur à la crème made in special little porcelain moulds with holes in the base but the mixture can also be spooned into ramekins. It’s made here with mascarpone, cream and Greek yoghurt but you can also use crème fraiche or fromage frais. You can tint the mixture to a pale pink as I’ve done here with a few drops of food colouring or alternatively stir in a little raspberry purée. Serves 6

300g mascarpone cheese

150g double cream

150g plain Greek yoghurt

2tbsp vanilla caster sugar or to taste

1 vanilla pod

Pink or red food colouring

If you’re using coeur à la crème moulds line them with a double thickness of damp muslin and place them in the fridge to chill. To make the mixture scrape out the seeds from the vanilla pod and add to a large bowl with the mascarpone and half the sugar. Beat until smooth then add the yoghurt, a few drops of food colouring (or raspberry purée) and the remaining sugar to taste. Mix briefly to incorporate then spoon into the moulds or ramekins and smooth the top. Cover with cling film and place on a plate or tray in the fridge overnight to chill and set. To serve invert the coeur à la crème moulds on to a plate and then peel off the muslin and serve with raspberries or dark cherries, either the whole fruit or made into a coulis.

VALENTINE COOKIES

Decorating these thin, crisp, vanilla shortbread biscuits is a good excuse to let your imagination run wild with bright colours, glitzy baubles and edible glitter and great fun for children who like to help! Makes 30-40 cookies.

250g plain flour

175g unsalted butter

2 medium eggs yolks

75g icing sugar

1 vanilla pod

1 tsp vanilla extract

For the icing:

250g icing sugar

2 egg whites

Red food colouring

To make the pastry for the cookies dice the butter, sift the icing sugar and flour and scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod. Place these ingredients in the bowl of a processor and blitz until grainy. Add the egg yolks and process briefly to make a dough. Form into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and rest in the fridge for half an hour. When you are ready to bake the cookies pre-heat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4 and on a lightly floured work surface roll the pastry out to a 2-3mm thickness. Cut out your cookie shapes and place on non-stick baking trays. Bake for 5-10 minutes or until they are still pale but starting to colour at the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to stand for a few minutes to harden slightly and then gently place on cooling racks. When they are completely cold and you are ready to ice them sift the icing sugar and whisk the egg whites in a large bowl until stiff. Beat the icing sugar into the egg whiles until you have a smooth thick paste. Divide into small bowls and colour each separately then ice and decorate away to your hearts content!

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