By Christina Katz
Along with roses, chocolate is a Valentine's Day staple. These recipes make it easy to share its deliciousness with the whole family.
Pretty Chocolate Pudding
Serve this tasty pudding warm on cold days and cold on warm days, and it will always be a major hit.
1. Stir together 2/3 cup sugar, ¼ cup cocoa, 3 tablespoons cornstarch, and ¼ teaspoon salt in medium saucepan. Place over medium heat and gradually stir in 2 ¼ cups milk.
2. Stir constantly until mixture boils. Boil and stir for 1 minute.
3. Remove pan from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla.
4. Pour mixture into a serving bowl or divide among 4 individual dessert dishes. Press plastic wrap directly onto pudding surface to prevent skin from forming.
5. Chill 2 hours or serve warm. Remove wrap and garnish with whipped cream.
Best Brownies Ever
These decadent brownies are amazing slightly cooled from the oven with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on top.
1. Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Butter and flour an 8-inch-square baking pan.
2. In a small saucepan, place 4 ounces chopped unsweetened chocolate on top of 2 sticks of butter. Stir over low heat until melted. If you use a microwave, take care not to splatter or scorch mixture.
3. Place 2 cups sugar into medium mixing bowl. Pour in chocolate-butter mixture and mix well. Add 4 large eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla and blend well.
4. Sift ½ cup of flour over the mixture and fold in gently, taking care to not over-mix.
5. Pour mixture into baking pan and bake for 30-40 minutes. For gooey brownies, bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan comes out clean. For more cake-like brownies, bake 5 minutes longer.
Easy Chocolate Fondue
This is always a hit with kids. Dip fresh fruit, marshmallows, sturdy bread, pretzels, or pound cake into this warm, creamy mixture--mmm!
1. In a heavy saucepan, warm 1 cup heavy cream over medium heat until it begins to slowly boil. Add 12 ounces high-quality dark, semi-sweet, or milk chocolate chips to the cream and whisk until smooth. Stir in a pinch of salt. Add ½ teaspoon vanilla, if desired.
2. Transfer to a fondue pot on low heat or serve straight from the saucepan. Make sure kids do not touch or tip a hot pot.
3. Arrange bite-sized pieces of dipping foods on a plate with fondue forks or regular forks. If the fondue starts to stiffen, whisk in a bit more cream.
Author, journalist, and writing coach Christina Katz is a lover of all things chocolate.