Heart-in-heart cookies take more time to make than most Valentine’s Day cookies, but they’re worth the extra effort.

Heart-in-heart cookies take more time to make than most Valentine’s Day cookies, but they’re worth the extra effort.

Make these mini Valentine desserts for your sweetheart

Looking to bake a special dessert for your loved ones this holiday? Give these recipes a try.

Valentine’s Day is a day for showing appreciation for the ones we love, the friendships we cherish and those we adore.

When this holiday of love rolls around, I like to make something special. And by that I mean something chocolate.

My favorite dessert is anything chocolate. But I still like to keep it healthy. For example, my chocolate cake recipes swap in whole wheat flour for all-purpose flour and brown sugar for white sugar.

If you’d like to bake a special dessert for your loved ones, give one of these recipes a try. Most of them are just the right size — and the flavors are truly blissful.

Mini chocolate and cream cakes

These chocolate and cream cupcakes are lip-smacking good. I can’t get enough of these desserts. If you are a chocolate fan like me, then it’s a sin not to make them.

For the cupcakes:

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

½ cup whole wheat flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

1 pinch salt

½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature

½ cup brown sugar, packed

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ cup sour cream

For the cream frosting:

1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 teaspoons powdered sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla

1 tray ice cubes

For garnish:

1 dark chocolate bar

Chocolate sauce (optional)

Sift the cocoa, flour, baking powder and salt three times. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until they form a smooth mixture. Add vanilla, followed by the eggs, one at a time, and beat until the mixture is pale and fluffy.

With a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, gently mix in the flour mixture and sour cream, then fold it into the egg mixture.

Fill 6 cupcake liners with the batter, about ¾ full. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely.

Making the frosting: Put the ice cubes into a large bowl. Sit a smaller bowl onto the ice and pour in the cream and vanilla. (The ice helps the frosting stay cold enough to hold its form while whipping.) With the electric mixer, beat the cream and vanilla on a low speed until the mixture forms light and foamy peaks. Add the sugar and beat on low until combined.

Pour the frosting into a piping bag. Frost the cooled cupcakes. Top each cake with a dark chocolate chunk and a drizzle of chocolate sauce. Makes 6 servings.

Mini fig and honey cheesecakes

Cheesecake is a favorite dessert of many. That smooth and creamy filling with a crunchy base. Mmm! Fig and honey take this subtle dessert to new heights. I recommend you make it with fresh figs and organic honey. The flavors will stand out all the more.

For the crust:

9 Oreo or bourbon cream cookies

1 teaspoon butter, cold, cut into cubes

For the filling:

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese

1 tablespoon Greek yogurt

⅓ cup powdered sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the topping:

3 fresh and ripe figs, sliced

3 tablespoons organic honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake pan with 6 cupcake paper liners.

In a food processor, pulse the cookies and butter for just a few seconds to form fine crumbs. (If you don’t have a food processor, crush the cookies in a resealable bag with a heavy mallet and then crumb the butter with a fork.) Divide the mixture equally into 6 paper cups liners. Press the cookie mixture with the back of a spoon to form a layer of crust.

With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, sugar, eggs and vanilla until light and fluffy. Fill each liner with this mixture, about ¾ full.

Bake for 15-18 minutes. When done, the edges should brown slightly. The crust will be firm, but the center will be jiggly. Let the cheesecakes cool and then refrigerate for 4 to 5 hours.

Top each cheesecake with a few fig slices and brush the figs with honey. Makes 6 servings.

Dark chocolate brownies

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1½ cup brown sugar, packed

1 cup whole wheat flour

½ cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder

½ cup milk chocolate chips, melted

½ cup walnuts, crumbled (optional)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¾ cup vegetable oil

½ teaspoon salt

1 pinch baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and line an 8-by-8 pan with parchment paper.

Sift the flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda together. Set aside.

Combine eggs, sugar and oil and beat with a fork until the sugar dissolves.

Gently fold in the flour mixture to this with a spatula. Add the melted chocolate and walnuts (optional), stir to combine.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 20-24 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Let the pan cool and then cut into squares. Makes 8 servings.

Heart-in-heart mini cookies

The recipe for these Valentine’s Day cookies are a little more time-consuming than most treats, but they are well worth the effort. You’ll need large and small heart-shaped cookie cutters for this one.

¾ cup butter, at room temperature

1¼ cups powdered sugar

2½ cups flour

1 pinch of salt

2 large eggs, at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla

Food coloring or of your choice

1 cup cookie sprinkles of your choice

Egg wash (equal parts egg white and water)

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the butter, sugar and salt until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla one at a time and whisk until combined. Add the flour a little at a time until it forms a crumbly/doughy mixture.

Place the mixture on a floured surface. Knead it to form a dough. Wrap it in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for about 15 minutes. Remove the dough and divide it into two equal parts.

Add a few drops of red food coloring (or any color you like) to one half the dough and knead it until the color is uniformly distributed to the dough. The dough should look Valentine’s Day pink.

Wrap the two doughs (pink and plain) separately. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.

After the dough is chilled, remove it from the fridge. Roll the colored dough on a floured surface. When the dough is about ½ inch thick, cut out large hearts with the cookie cutter. Then with the small heart cookie cutter, cut and remove the smaller heart. Repeat these steps with the plain dough. Small and large hearts, about 2 inches thick.

Place the smaller pink hearts into the centers of the larger white hearts, and the smaller white hearts into the centers of the larger pink hearts. Attach the pieces with some egg wash. Repeat.

When you’re done, stack all the heart in heart cookies, one on top of the other, attaching them with egg wash. The stacking will form a heart-shaped log. Wrap and chill the cookies in the fridge for about 15 minutes.

Spread the sprinkles on a plate. Remove the cookie log from the freezer, coat with egg wash all along its circumference and roll it on the sprinkles to coat.

Rewrap and chill overnight for best results.

When you’re ready to bake, remove the cookie dough from the fridge and let it rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Cut the cookie dough into ⅓-inch pieces. Lay each cookie on the baking sheet about ½ inch apart. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.

Let cool before serving. Makes 12 cookies.

Mini black forest cakes

I’ve packed some punch into these adult-only cupcakes. If you want to make these for children, swap the cherry brandy in the syrup for sugar syrup and the rum in the frosting with vanilla extract.

For the cupcakes:

½ cup whole wheat flour

½ cup brown sugar, packed

½ teaspoon baking powder

1 pinch salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 large eggs

2 teaspoons dark cocoa powder

1 teaspoon instant coffee powder

For the syrup:

2 tablespoons cherry brandy or rum (or sugar syrup, made with equal parts sugar and warm water)

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon lime juice

1 cup warm water

For the filling and frosting:

1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 teaspoons powdered sugar

1 teaspoon rum (or vanilla extract)

4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1 chocolate bar, grated into shavings or cut up

1 can (4 ounces) cherry pie filling

1 tray of ice cubes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake pan with paper cups. Set aside.

Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Dissolve the coffee powder in a tablespoon of warm water. Set aside.

Whisk the eggs and sugar together until the mixture doubles in quantity. When the mixture is light yellow and frothy, use a spatula to gently fold in flour, a little at a time, until the mixture is combined. Then gently stir in the coffee mixture.

Pour the batter into the cupcake liners so they are about ¾ full. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely.

While the cupcakes are cooling, combine all the syrup ingredients. Cut little cones in the center of each cupcake. Place a cherry inside the cake and close it back up with the cone top. Pour a spoon of warm syrup over the cupcake. Repeat these steps until all the cupcakes are filled.

Making the frosting: Add a tray of ice cubes into a large bowl. Place a medium bowl over the ice cubes. Whisk the cream cheese in the medium bowl until all the lumps are gone. Add in the powdered sugar, vanilla and fresh cream.

With an electric mixer, whip it up until the mixture forms soft peaks. This should take about 5 to 7 minutes on medium speed.

Fill a piping bag with a large nozzle. Pipe the frosting onto each cupcake. If you don’t have a piping bag, just use a spatula and dollop some cream on each cake.

Decorate each cake with cherries, chocolate shavings and some melted chocolate drizzle. Chill the cakes overnight for best results. Makes six servings.

Reshma Seetharam’s blog, My Foodarama, can be found at www.reshmaseetharam.com.

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