I'm not especially thrifty, and I'm not a homebody, but I'd just as soon stay in with my husband, David, on Valentine's Day.
I'll pick up a nice cut of meat — our favorite is rack of lamb — and a bunch of asparagus. I'll spring for a bottle of bubbly and maybe a little smoked salmon to start. I keep it simple. But dessert can be a little more of a challenge, which is why I'm offering up three special Valentine's Day desserts for two.
If you think you have to start from scratch (or even open a boxed mix) to make your own personal chocolate-cherry cakes, check out this recipe. It starts with dessert shells or shortcake cups. These little cakes were once only available during berry season, but I see them year-round now, usually in the produce department near the fresh berries or in the bakery section. I stack an upside-down dessert shell over a right-side-up one, then stuff it with a simple cherry filling and glaze it with a chocolate and cream ganache — but there are so many different filling and frosting options, including jams, curds and fresh fruit for the middle and chocolate-hazelnut spread, citrus glazes and simple cream cheese frosting for the outside.
You can always just serve a dish of plain vanilla ice cream, but why be ordinary when it's so easy to class it up? One of my favorite desserts is lemon curd ice cream, which is as easy to make as streaking good quality vanilla ice cream with store-bought lemon curd. Spoon it into your best goblet and splurge on some fresh raspberries. It's Valentine's Day, after all.
And then there's Bananas Foster, which I adore but often avoid because of the high butter content. I've recently discovered that it doesn't have to be so rich: You can get away with just 1 tablespoon of butter for two people. Don't leave out the pecans — they're good for you and they add great flavor and texture to this very appealing dessert.
Personal Chocolate-Cherry Cakes
- 10 ounces frozen dark sweet cherries (2 cups), halved
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- ¼ cup water
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 2 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
- 4 shortcakes, also known as dessert shells
- 2 tablespoons chopped roasted almonds, plus a few whole for garnish