3 Spectacular Desserts to Win Over Your Valentine

Photo: Jessica Tsai

Whether you're celebrating Valentine's Day with your soulmate or with an army of besties, here are three sweet treats that promise to make the loves of your life even more smitten with you—if that's even possible. Chocoholics will swoon over the silky bake-free Chocolate and Peanut Butter pie from pastry chef Emily Luchetti of Marlowe and Kate Goodyear of Barchetta’s light Lebni Tart with Raspberry Sauce will make your tastebuds do cartwheels from the sweet and tangy combo. Hosting a large gathering? Test out your icing skills with cookbook author Patti Paige’s adorable cookies that will be appreciated by kids and adults alike.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Silk

"Just a sliver of this easy-to-make dessert is all you need to make you happy," says Luchetti. Make it in advance and make sure you use good quality chocolate like Guittard, Valrhona or Ghirardelli.

Serves approximately 12

For Crust

Ingredients:6 ounces nuts, any combination of whole natural almonds, pecans, and salted dry-roasted peanuts½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Directions: 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the almonds and pecans separately in single layers on rimmed baking sheets. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool to room temperature.2. Combine the almonds and pecans with the peanuts and chop the nuts into small pieces, no bigger than 1/4 inch. Toss in a bowl with the brown sugar and melted butter, and then transfer to a springform pan. Using the bottom of a glass or a measuring cup, press the nuts evenly into the bottom of the pan to form a crust. Set aside while you make the filling, or refrigerate for up to 8 hours.

For Filling

Ingredients:6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (58-62 percent cacao), broken into 1-inch pieces2 ounces milk chocolate, broken into 1-inch pieces½ cup smooth peanut butter8 tbsp unsalted butter⅓ cup granulated sugarPinch Kosher salt4 large eggs¼ cup heavy cream

Directions:1. Melt the bittersweet and milk chocolates with the peanut butter in a heatproof bowl set over (but not touching) a saucepan of simmering water (or use a double boiler if you have one). Stir and scrape the side of the bowl occasionally with the rubber spatula until the chocolate is smooth and evenly melted.2. Using the stand mixer, or a medium bowl and handheld mixer, on medium speed, beat the butter with the sugar and salt until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and continue to beat on medium speed, stopping occasionally to scrape down the side of the bowl with the rubber spatula. It’s okay if the mixture is separated.3. Stir the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in the cream and vanilla.4. Pour the filling into the springform pan over the crust and refrigerate until firm, about 6 hours or overnight.5. Cut the cake into wedges, wiping the knife with a damp towel after each slice. Every dessert tastes better with whipped cream and this cake is no exception.

Courtesy of Barchetta

Lebni Tart with Raspberry Sauce

Similar to a traditional cheesecake, but lighter, this tart is made with Lebni, which is a super thick Middle Eastern yoghurt. If you can't find Lebni, strain a full fat Greek yogurt overnight in a cheesecloth, recommends Goodyear. "Should the surface of the tart crack, hide it with sauce—no one will notice!"

Makes one 9-10-inch tart

For Pie Dough

Ingredients:2 cups all purpose flour10 tbsp sweet butter, cubed and very cold1 tsp kosher salt1 tbsp sugar2 large egg yolks4-6 tbsp ice water

Directions: 1. In the bowl food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine flour, sugar, and salt and pulse to mix. Add the butter and process until the butter is the size of peas (about 8-12 pulses). Add egg yolks and process briefly (4 pulses). Add 2 tablespoons ice water and pulse 4 times. If dough does not hold together, add 2 more tablespoons ice water and pulse until the dough begins to clump together. Dump out on your table and form into a ball. Flatten the dough and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill at least one hour in the refrigerator.2. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let sit 5 minutes. Roll on a well-floured table into a circle, rolling from the center to the edge, turning and flouring as needed to make sure the dough doesn’t stick. Roll 1/8 inch thick. Roll the dough around the rolling pin and unfurl into a greased tart pan. Press the dough into the pan, lifting the edges and settling the dough into the corners of the pan. Trim the top, prick the bottom well with a fork and place in the freezer for one hour. Preheat oven to 375°F.3. Remove the frozen tart shell. Line with parchment paper and fill with dried beans or uncooked rice. Bake 15 minutes. Remove the parchment and rates and return to the oven. Bake an additional 10-15 minutes until tart shell is golden brown.4. Reduce oven to 300 F

For Filling

Ingredients:3 large eggs6 tbsp sugar¼ tsp kosher walt½ vanilla bean, scraped¼ tsp rose flower water18 oz. lebni (or strained Greek yogurt)

Directions:1. In a medium bowl, combine eggs, sugar, salt, vanilla bean seeds, and rose water. Whisk to combine completely. Add lebni and whisk again until completely smooth. Place tart pan on a sheet pan and pour the filling into the cooked tart shell. Bake for 20-30 minutes until the tart is just set in the center. Remove from the oven and let cool at room temperature. Cool completely in the refrigerator before serving.

For Roasted Raspberry Sauce

Ingredients:1 lb raspberries (fresh or frozen)¼ cup sugar1 vanilla bean, scrapedJuice of one orange½ tsp kosher salt½ tsp rose flower water1 tbsp pomegranate molasses

Directions:1. In a blender, combine all ingredients and puree until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve to remove the seeds. Chill until ready to use.

Jessica Tsai

Sugar Cookies and Royal Icing with Egg Whites

Think of icing cookies like coloring: Pipe all your borders using a #1 or #2 piping tip, and then flood them in with icing that's been slightly thinned out with a bit of water. A toothpick can help you drag the icing into the hard-to-reach corners.

For Icing (makes 2 cups):

Ingredients:5 ½ cus (562 grams) sifted confectioners' sugar7 tbsp pasteurized egg whites½ tsp lemon juice, optionalPink, red and black food colorings

Directions: 1. Combine the confectioners' sugar and egg hits in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on low until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add lemon juice, if using. With the mixer on medium speed, beat until thick, soft peaks form, scraping down the sides of the bowl,1 to 2 minutes.2. Stir in food coloring to tint to the desired shades.

For Cookies (makes about 24 three-inch cookies):

Ingredients:2 ½ cups plus 2 tbsp (340 grams) unbleached all-purpose white flour½ tsp baking powder½ tsp salt¾ cup (1 ½ sticks or 170 grams) usalted butter, softened1 cup plus 2 tbsp (225 grams) granulated sugar1 large egg1 ½ tsp vanilla extract

Directions:1. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar and mix on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes, until thoroughly combined. Reduce the speed to medium low and add the egg and vanilla, mixing until thoroughly combined, about 40 seconds. Reduce speed and gradually add the flour mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed and beating until just the dry ingredients are incorporated.2. Divide the dough in three batches. Roll out the dough straight from the mixing bowl, in between two pieces of parchment paper. Repeat with remaining dough batches and refrigerate on a baking sheet for 30 minutes.3. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut out shapes from the dough and chill for 30 minutes. Bake the cookies until the edges begin to brown slightly, 9 to 15 minutes, depending on the size. Let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely before decorating.

Cookie and Icing Recipes from You Can't Judge a Cookie by Its Cutter by Patti Paige. Copyright (c) 2014 by Patti Paige. Used with permission by Grand Central Life & Style. All rights reserved.

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