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Sweets to the sweet Old-fashioned Valentine's Day desserts


Last updated 2/1/2007 at Noon

Soon Valentine’s Day will be upon us, with all of the hearts, flowers and lovely cards our celebratory society can muster. Still, such merchandising does not take away from a crayon drawing of a heart from someone who cares. Love has no price tag.

For some there will be restaurant meals and fancy gifts. Others give their love in other ways, including meals featuring family favorites topped off perhaps with a special dessert.

All that matters is that your gifts are created and given with love.

Your Valentine’s Day dessert could be as simple as Angel Food Cake with fresh sliced strawberries. Or, it could be a fancy cake, even a soufflé or maybe individual tarts.

The following Strawberry Dream Cake recipe comes from Diana Denecke, a dear friend whose life was a testimony to love of family and friends. As an accomplished cook she was known for dazzling menus and amazing culinary creations. Her recipe for this handsome dessert is shared in hopes that it might be a perfect ending note to a Valentine’s Day meal.

Diana’s Strawberry Dream Cake

1 box (10 oz.) frozen strawberries

1 pkg. white cake mix

1 pkg. (3 oz.) strawberry-flavored gelatin

2 tbsp. flour

4 eggs

½ cup water

½ cup melted butter or cooking oil (not olive)


½ cup butter

4 cups confectioners’ sugar

½ tsp. vanilla


Fresh whole strawberries

For cake: Cut box of strawberries in half. Place each half-box in two small bowls to allow to thaw.

Prepare pan(s): Grease one 9x13-inch pan or two 9-inch round cake pans. Set aside.

Mix cake mix, gelatin, flour, eggs and water in mixer bowl. Beat at medium speed 2 minutes. Add half of thawed strawberries (with accompanying juices). Beat 1 minute. Add butter or oil and beat 1 minute.

Bake in a 350-degree oven for 40-50 minutes for oblong pan; 35-40 minutes for 9-inch layers, testing with wooden pick for doneness. Cool.

To prepare frosting: Drain strawberries, reserving juices. Cream butter to soften. Add drained strawberries alternately with sugar and beat until smooth. Add vanilla.

Frost cooled cake with frosting. Drizzle a bit of reserved strawberry juice over top of cake, if desired.

Cherries atop a cream cheese filling make wonderful little tarts… a perfect light ending to a love-ly meal.

Cherry Cheese Tarts

1 (8-oz) pkg. cream cheese

¼ cup sugar

2 eggs

¼ tsp. almond extract

24 vanilla wafers

1 (21 oz.) can cherry pie filling

Line 12-unit cupcake pan with paper lines, using two liners for each cavity.

Soften cream cheese, then blend with sugar and eggs. Beat in almond extract.

Put two wafers in bottom of each cup. Fill with about 2 tbsp. of cheese filling. Bake in a 350-degree oven 10-15 minutes. Cool about 45 minutes on a rack. Spoon a tablespoon or so of cherry pie filling on top of each tart. Makes 12 tarts.

Angel food cake, orange and strawberries make a triple taste treat… ideal for a special dinner.

Toasted Angel Food Cake with Orange Sauce and Strawberries

1 (12-oz.) angel food loaf cake

Melted butter

Orange Sauce

½ cup soft butter

1 ½ cups sugar

4 egg yolks

1 tbsp. grated orange rind

2/3 cup orange juice

2/3 cup milk


2 pints strawberries

¼ cup superfine sugar

Cut cake into 12 slices. Brush both sides with melted butter. Just before serving, set slices on baking sheet. Toast on both sides under broiler. Serve with Orange Sauce. Garnish generously with prepared strawberries.

For sauce: Mix butter and sugar in the top of a double boiler. Beat in egg yolks, one at a time. Stir in orange rind, orange juice and milk. Cook over hot water 10-15 minutes. Cool. (Sauce is thin, not thick.)

Stem berries. Sprinkle with sugar and toss lightly.

Presentation: Place toasted cake slices on plates, drizzle with sauce and garnish generously with slightly sweetened berries.

Chocolate and strawberry… elegant flavor mates! Here is a light, ethereal chocolate soufflé made in a double boiler and served with strawberries.

Double Boiler Chocolate Soufflé with Strawberries

Soft butter

4 egg whites

3 tbsp. sugar

Pinch of salt

2 tbsp. cocoa

½ tsp. vanilla

1 pint fresh strawberries

2 tbsp. superfine sugar

To prepare double boiler, lightly coat inside of top pan and lid with butter. Set aside.

Beat egg whites until stiff. Whisk together salt, sugar and cocoa. Beat into egg whites. Fold in vanilla. Pour egg mixture into prepared double boiler and cover. Cook over hot water for 50 minutes, keeping lid in place.

Meantime, stem and chop ½ cup berries. Combine with super fine sugar and set aside. Juices will mingle with sugar to make a sauce. Stem and slice remaining berries.

When soufflé has cooked 50 minutes, remove from heat. Remove lid and turn soufflé out onto serving platter. Surround with sliced berries and serve with sweetened chopped berry sauce.

Poached pears with a strawberry sauce make a light, luscious and (relatively) low-cal dessert. It’s elegant in flavor and presentation.

Strawberry Pears

3-4 firm fresh pears

1 cup water

½ cup sugar

¼ tsp. vanilla

1 cup fresh sliced strawberries (or one box frozen berries, thawed)

1 ½ tbsp. Kirsch, optional

Toasted slivered almonds

Boil water and sugar for 5 minutes. Add vanilla.

Peel pears, cut in half lengthwise and scoop out cores. Cook in sugar-water mixture for about 5-8 minutes, basting, until tender but not in danger of breaking apart. Carefully lift pears from syrup and arrange in a circle on serving plate, round side up. Refrigerate.

Cook syrup to reduce to half the amount. Add strawberries and juice and simmer until mixture is a syrup-like consistency. Strain and chill. Before serving, stir in Kirsch (if using). Spoon sauce carefully over chilled pears. Garnish each pear by sticking with a few slivers of toasted almonds. 6-8 servings.


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