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A Special Valentine (February 14, 2005)

Valentine's Day! Here again... What to do, restaurants are full, flowers nice, but... hey, there's always chocolate! No one who is still breathing won't be delighted with a gift of chocolate, no matter what version. Problem solved! Give yourself and a special friend a treat today... we've got some wonderful, different suggestions that just may work for you; it surely did for us!

Start here with the new, deliciously offbeat The Donut Book. Authored by Sally Levitt Steinberg, the self-styled America's Donut Princess (whose grandfather invented the donut-making machine), this colourful book contains – yes! – 28 lip-smacking, sugar-packed recipes, loads of pictures and illustrations and every tasty facet of donut-ology. For instance, ponder the perfection of the donut/coffee relationship. Learn the secret of the hole, drool over the descriptions and recipes, and (we did) scream over the delicious trivia. Jane and Michael Stern, those delightful chroniclers of everyday American culinary life, state, "If any single-serving pastry deserves a biography, it's the donut."

Come on... you know you've got to get a copy of The Donut Book! You can't have ours!

We get lots of great ideas from our friends at Baker's chocolate, and know you'll love these two below. The no-bake cheesecake takes time, but is easy enough for the youngest cook, and the results are spectacular enough for the grandest dinner party. Baker's also has a special treat just for you and your best friend: biscotti that will keep for about a month (not in our house!) in the fridge; you can celebrate Valentine's Day for weeks!

Forget flowers or dinner out... fix them chocolate donuts or that dee-vine cheesecake, and see where the evening takes you!

Happy Valentine's Day to everyone! Eat, enjoy and give someone you love a large hug along with the chocolate! You'll get one in return, promise!

On today's menu:

Download these recipes in printable form as an Adobe Acrobat PDF (73 KB)


Chocolate Donuts

Admit it, you'll kill for chocolate donuts. So just imagine what they are like fresh and warm with a rich chocolate glaze...

OK, so you're going to have to plan a day ahead, and do a little work, but oh, my, yes, it's worth it. This is one of the favourite donut recipes of Karen Demasco, Craft restaurant's talented pastry chef. Oh, thank you, Karen.

The Donut Book not only has this chocolate version, but dozens of other variations, from sugar to "creme filled" to the Salvation Army recipe to how to fry donuts in garbage pails for a crow! Munch and enjoy "Tales from the Donut Trail"! But meanwhile...

Makes about 15 donuts

  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1½ tsp. fresh yeast
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 1 pound bread flour, plus more for dusting
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 pound butter, cold
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  1. In an electric mixer, whisk together the sugar, yeast and water. Add the dry ingredients and mix with a dough hook until combined. Add the eggs all at once. Let this mix until the sticky dough comes together in and all around the hook (about 10 minutes).
  2. At this point, add the chilled butter in chunks and let it mix until the dough once again comes together around the hook.
  3. Put it in an oiled bowl and let rise until doubled. Punch down the dough and chill for several hours or overnight.
  4. On a floured surface, roll out the chilled dough to about ¾ inch. Cut into donuts, then let them proof for about 30 minutes.
  5. While the dough is proofing, heat the oil to 390°F. Fry the donuts for about 2 minutes per side. Drain them on paper towels, then dip them into the Chocolate Glaze. Serve immediately.
  6. These can be made ahead – cut and refrigerated (for one day) or frozen (for two weeks). When you are ready to use them, just thaw them out at room temperature and dry when they have begun to rise.

Chocolate Glaze

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 4 Tbsp butter

In a saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. Pour it over the sugar and cocoa, then whisk in the butter. Strain.


No-Bake Chocolate Amaretto Cheesecake

From our friends at Baker's Chocolate comes this amazing recipe: rich, easy cheesecake that you don't have to bake. This is a fun project for the whole family with yummy results, and such fun licking the beaters and bowl! A valentine for all ages!

    Cookie Ring
  • 2 squares semi-sweet chocolate
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 32 plain wafer roll cookies
  • 2 packages (250 g each) cream cheese, softened
  • ¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 envelope unflavoured gelatin
  • ½ cup almond liqueur
  • 1 cup whipping cream, whipped
  • 6 squares semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • Semi-sweet chocolate
  • Whole unblanched almonds

For Cookie Ring
Melt chocolate and butter on medium power for about 2 minutes; stir until chocolate is completely melted. Pour into tall, thin container. Dip half of cookies in chocolate; lace on waxed-paper-lined pan. Chill until chocolate is set. Place cookies in ring in 8½-inch springform pan.

For Cheesecake
Beat cream cheese on lowest speed of electric mixer until smooth; blend in sugar. Sprinkle gelatin on top of liqueur in saucepan. Let stand 5 minutes to soften. Stir mixture over low heat until gelatin is dissolved. Blend warm gelatin into cheese mixture. Fold cheese mixture into whipped cream. Set aside 1 cup plain cheese mixture. Melt chocolate on medium power for about 3½ minutes; stir to melt completely. Fold chocolate into remaining cheesecake mixture. Spread all but ½ cup chocolate cheese mixture into prepared pan. Spread plain cheese mixture evenly over chocolate cheese mixture. Spoon remaining chocolate cheese mixture over plain mixture and swirl with knife to marble. Chill at least 3 hours.

For Garnish
Partially melt chocolate over hot water. (Do NOT melt in the microwave oven.) Dip half of each almond in chocolate. Chill. Place on top of cookies.

HINT: Substitute 2 Tbsp each orange liqueur and water for the almond liqueur, if desired.

Cake may be frozen for 1 month! (As if...)

Accompanying wine? Tony recommends...
Riesling Icewine or Tawny Port.


White Chocolate Apricot Biscotti

From Baker's Best Chocolate Cookbook comes a lovely variation on the basic biscotti, this one with white chocolate and apricots. Biscotti are much easier than you think, and once you've done them from scratch, you won't ever go back to store-bought! These are perfect for coffee with best friends or as a light, elegant dessert after dinner.

Makes about 40 cookies

  • ½ cup butter or margarine (125 mL)
  • 1½ cups sugar (375 mL)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 squares white chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 2¾ cups all-purpose flour (675 mL)
  • 2½ tsp. baking powder (12 mL)
  • 1 tsp. salt (5 mL)
  • ¼ cup orange juice (50 mL)
  • 1 tsp. almond extract (5 mL)
  • 3 squares white chocolate, chopped
  • ¾ cup each coarsely chopped, toasted whole almonds and dried apricots (175 mL)
  • White and bittersweet chocolate (optional)

Heat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease and flour two cookie sheets.

Beat butter with sugar and eggs. Beat in melted chocolate.

Add remaining ingredients, beating until well blended. Dough will be sticky.

Spoon half of the dough onto each cookie sheet, shaping each into a long log, about 2 inches (5 cm) wide.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden. Cool 10 minutes. Cut logs into ¾-inch-wide (2 cm) slices.

Place slices onto cookie sheets. Return to oven and bake 20 minutes longer, turning cookies over once during baking. Cool completely. If desired, dip cookies in melted white and or bittersweet chocolate.

Store in airtight container.

Note: Can be prepared two weeks ahead. Cookies will keep for 3 months in freezer.

Accompanying wine? Tony recommends...
Vin Santo or Moscato d'Asti.


We wish to thank:

Storey Publishing, North Adams, MA, for permission to publish material and photographs from The Donut Book, by Sally Levitt Steinberg. © 2004 by Sally Levitt Steinberg. Photographs by Zeva Oelbaum.

Kraft Canada and Baker's Kitchens, and Brimar Publishing, Montreal, for permission to use recipes and photographs from Baker's Best Chocolate Cookbook. Photography by Nathalie Dumouchel. For more information and to order a cookbook, call the Baker's Hotline at 1-800-268-6450 or visit


Happily tested by Helen Hatton and Ron Morris.

Download these recipes in printable form as an Adobe Acrobat PDF (73 KB)




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