Intentionally overlooking some recipe books with such titles as “The Secrets of Fat-free Cooking,” “The Low Carb Bible” and “The Weight Loss Recipe Book,” I have set out to write a story about foods for Valentine’s Day.
Thinking food when you think of Valentine’s Day is perfectly natural since heart- and cupid-shaped sweets and treats in shades of red, white and pink are practically icons of the celebration. I suppose a fat-free rice cake could still come in the shape of a heart and a lowcarb dish could include cupid shaped vegetables, but where is the fun in that?
Valentine’s Day can be a chocoholic’s paradise, but of course the treats are not limited to candy or other forms of that delicious, gooey delight. I have included a delicious chocolate flan cake recipe that certainly fills the need for a gooey chocolate dessert so well that no one will care that is isn’t made in a heart shape for Valentine’s Day. Although I have done other columns on bread pudding, this recipe is one of the best I have tasted. The version I tasted was made with sweet rolls torn up to replace the loaf of bread.
Banana bread is a popular baked dish. Since chocolate is such a favorite for this holiday, you might try the cocoa banana bread for a change.
Chocolate Flan Cake
Devil’s food cake mix
1 can coke (can be caffeine free, but not diet, can also substitute non-diet ginger ale)
Flan (*See variation below)
1 15-ounce can regular evaporated milk (not light)
1 15-ounce can condensed milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup Cajeta (Mexican caramel sauce, can also substitute regular caramel sauce)
Non-stick cooking spray to spray a 12-cup Bundt pan
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Follow instruction to make cake but use the can of coke instead of water. Set cake mix aside and make the flan. Put all of the flan ingredients into a blender and mix well. Spray the 12-cup Bundt pan with the cooking spray and cover the bottom with caramel. Pour cake mix over the caramel. Pour the flan mix gently down one side of the pan. The flan will go to the bottom and the cake mix will raise up a bit as the flan mixture fills the bottom of the pan. Place a larger pan on the oven shelf, place the Bundt pan in the center and pour water about 2 inches deep into the larger pan surrounding the Bundt pan. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Check for doneness with a toothpick. The cake will be moister than a typical cake and it will separate a bit from the pan when it is done. Set the baked cake on a rack to cool and then refrigerate for several hours. Remove from the refrigerator two hours before you plan to serve it. Turn the Bundt pan over and let it sit while warming to room temperature. To serve, lift off the pan to reveal a layer of flan topped with caramel, sitting atop a very moist chocolate cake.
*Variation: For creamier flan, use five eggs instead of three and add a small (3 ounce) package of cream cheese.
Rich Southern Bread Pudding
1 loaf of white bread (can also substitute sweet rolls for a lighter product)
1 quart half and half
4 ounces coconut
4 ounces raisins
8 ounces sugar
Put the eggs and sugar in a bowl and whip them for 15 seconds. Add the milk and stir until well blended. In a 10” x 10” x 3” pan, shred the bread or sweet rolls and mix with raisins and coconut. Pour egg/milk mixture over the bread, raisins and coconut mixture. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting a knife blade into the cooked pudding. The blade should slip out dry. If not, cook for an extra 10 minutes.
Rum Sauce (from the Plantation Room at Callaway Gardens)
1 pint of half and half
4 ounces sugar
4 egg yolks
4 tsp of rum (can also substitute 1/4 teaspoon rum extract, experiment to taste)
Bring the half and half to a boil. In the mean time whisk the egg yolks and sugar for one minute. Slowly pour the boiling liquid over the eggs while gently stirring. Bring the mixture back into the pot and cook over medium flame, stirring with a wooden spatula continuously until the sauce nicely coats the back of the spoon. Do not bring this custard to a boil. Remove from the heat and pour into a bowl to allow rapid cooling. Add the rum or rum extract. Store in the fridge as soon as the sauce is not producing steam anymore so the cooling process will go faster. Store in the fridge up to three days.
Cocoa Banana Bread
1/4 cup margarine
3/4 cup sugar
2 mashed bananas
2 egg whites
1 3/4 cups flour
3 tablespoons cocoa
1/4 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup fat free vanilla yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla
Mix margarine and sugar together. Mix in egg white and mashed banana. Add dry ingredients. Fold in yogurt and vanilla. Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until bread springs back when pressed.