Valentine's Day desserts don't have to be fancy to be delicious.
Today, I've chosen three I've never made from my stash of recipes in a drawer in a chifforobe in my kitchen. Any of the three could be the pièce de résistance to a meal you may be planning to make for your spouse or significant other.
I chose coconut pie because I've never made one but love coconut which, I've come to believe, is a love or hate thing with most people.
My mom used to make several coconut pies for the Optimist Club booth at the old Hamilton County Fair when it was held at Warner Park in the 1960s and early 1970s. I don't have her recipe, which was delicious, but the one I found - which is not attributed to anyone - was easy.
I selected Mounds Candy Bar Cake because Mounds are one of my favorite candy bars. They, of course, also have coconut. Remember the 1970s advertising ditty: "Sometimes you feel like a nut; sometimes you don't; Peter Paul Almond Joy's got nuts; Mounds don't"? It was not grammatical, but it was catchy.
So the recipe has Mounds, chocolate chips and coconut. What could be better?
I chose Chocolate Mint Dessert because the mint part appealed to me. The description indicated it was a brownie-like concoction with a center and an icing. A triple threat.
The recipe itself also had a bit of a sentimental interest to me because it has my late cat Xanadu's DNA on it from a late-night, um, hairball.
Jan Armstrong, the woman who initially submitted the recipe to the Times Free Press, said she makes it annually at Christmas. However, with the mint cream center, it also could be a St. Patrick's Day favorite. But Valentine's Day works, too.
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flaked coconut
Unbaked 9-inch pie shell
Thoroughly beat eggs and combine with sugar, butter, lemon juice and vanilla. Stir in coconut and pour filling into unbaked pie shell. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes.
• Cook/writer substitutions/changes: None.
• Result: Very simple pie but very sweet filling. I'm not quite sure why it is named Toasted Coconut Pie, because the recipe doesn't call for the coconut to be toasted. But you could do that, too.
1 (18 3/4-ounce) package yellow cake mix (without pudding)
1 (3.4-ounce) package white chocolate or French vanilla instant pudding mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
1 (8 ounce) carton sour cream or plain yogurt
8 snack-size (or 4 regular-size) Mounds candy bars, chopped
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup flaked coconut
Confectioners sugar, optional
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 12-cup fluted tube pan or Bundt pan. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cake and pudding mixes, oil, water and eggs. Stir until most lumps are gone. Stir in the sour cream, then the candy bars, chocolate chips, nuts and coconut. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake 60 to 65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan about 15 minutes before removing to a wire rack. Cool completely. Before serving, dust with sifted confectioners sugar, if desired. May also serve with whipped topping or vanilla ice cream.
• Cook/writer substitutions/changes: I used a Bundt pan, French vanilla pudding, sour cream and the snack-size Mounds bars where options were listed. I used only 1/2 cup of walnuts.
• Result: For some reason to me, the walnuts seemed to overwhelm the taste of this cake. However, a co-worker proclaimed it very moist. It paired well with vanilla ice cream.
- Elsie Keith
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup margarine or butter
1 1/2 cups (16 ounces) chocolate syrup
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13-inch-by-9-inch pan. In a large mixer bowl, combine flour, sugar, butter, eggs and syrup; beat until smooth. Pour into prepared pan; bake 25 to 30 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched. Cool completely in pan. Spread mint cream center (recipe follows) on cake; cover and chill. Pour chocolate icing (recipe follows) over chilled dessert. Cover; chill at least 1 hour before cutting and serving.
Mint Cream Center
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup margarine
1 tablespoon water
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon mint extract
3 drops green food coloring (or more for intense color)
In a small bowl, combine all ingredients; beat until smooth.
6 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
In a saucepan over very low heat, melt butter and chocolate chips. Remove from heat; stir until smooth. Cool slightly. Makes 12 servings.
• Cook/writer substitutions/changes: The lady who originally submitted the recipe said you could use a boxed brownie mix instead of the cake part, but I made it as she suggested. In the cake, I used butter and not margarine. In the mint cream center, I used 3/4 teaspoon and not 1/2 teaspoon mint extract (but would go with 1/2 if I made it again). In the icing, I used butter and not margarine. If it makes only 12 servings, the servings are gigantic. You could easily get double that.
• Result: This comes out like an iced brownie. I think the extra mint made the center a bit overpowering, though most disagreed, but it's overall a very good dessert if you don't eat too much of it.
- Jan Armstrong