Tasty treats for your Valentine

Looking for the perfect gift this Valentine’s Day that goes straight to your sweetie’s heart?  Try dark chocolate. 

Studies show that as little as 30 calories a day from quality dark chocolate (that’s about 1 1⁄2 Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Kisses) can make significant improvements in blood pressure and the cardiovascular system. 

While both provide a little more than 30 calories, below are two luscious dark chocolate recipes that you can easily make for your Valentine.   Choose between the sinfully indulgent flourless cake and a lighter mousse for those still sticking to their New Year’s resolution.

Lighter-than-Air Chocolate Mousse
Makes 10 4-oz cups

1 envelope of unflavored gelatin
1⁄4 cup cold water
1 12-oz can fat-free evaporated milk
3 Tbsp sifted unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
7 oz dark chocolate, broken into pieces (or use dark chocolate chips)
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups fat-free whipped topping
Serve with fresh berries and a spring of mint
In a saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over the 1⁄4-cup of cold water.  Let stand for 1 minute to allow gelatin to soften.  Place over low heat and stir until gelatin fully dissolves, just a few minutes.  Remove from heat.
In a medium saucepan, bring evaporated skim milk to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Stir in sifted cocoa powder, sugar, and chocolate.  Using a whisk, mix until smooth.  Gently stir in vanilla and gelatin mixture.  Pour into a large bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. 
Refrigerate, stirring every 8 minutes, until mixture thickens and begins to mound up, about 30 minutes.  Portion into small dessert cups (martini glasses make great serving cups as well) and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  Garnish with fresh berries and a sprig of mint.
Nutrition facts  per serving (for 10 servings): 169 calories; 6 g fat; 1 mg cholesterol; 56 mg sodium 4 g protein; 27 g carbohydrates; 2 g fiber
Flourless Chocolate Cake
Serves 10 - 12

2 sticks no-salt butter
8 oz dark chocolate chips (~1 1/2 cups)
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 cup sifted unsweetened cocoa powder
6 large eggs

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter or coat a springform pan with cooking spray.  Set aside.**  In a heavy-bottom sauce pot, melt butter slowly over medium-low heat.  Add chocolate chips and stir gently until completely melted, being careful not to burn.  Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, mix together sugar and sifted cocoa powder.  Add eggs, one at a time, whisking after each addition until mixed.  Whisk in chocolate mixture and pour  batter into prepared pan.  Bake uncovered for about 45 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Cake may fall slightly after removing from oven.

Serve with homemade, or ready-made, whipped cream or a small serving of vanilla ice cream.

**To prevent cracking in the cake, you can heavily wrap the bottom of springform pan in aluminum foil and place pan with batter in a large baking dish filled with 1 in water.  The water bath keeps the cake moist and the heat constant in order to prevent cracks from forming on surface of cake.

Nutrition facts per serving (for 12 servings): 359 calories; 24 g fat; 14 g saturated fat; 146 mg cholesterol; 37 g carbohydrates; 3.5 g fiber; 5.5 g protein

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