Valentine’s Day always heralds a period of time where there is an overwhelming array of chocolates and sweets monopolizing every storefront, challenging my sweet tooth’s resolve at the turn of every corner. It’s not only that—the sizes of chocolate boxes during this season are humongous, the clever marketing insinuating the more you love someone, the bigger the box of sweets should be! Tempting as these products are to show loved ones how much I love them, I thought a more clever way to show care was to share recipes that have familiar notes of love and comfort, without added sugar and unrelenting portions.
The serving sizes for most of these recipes are catered to two—though they can be multiplied in the event you’ll want to serve more than two people. These recipes were made with portion sizes in mind so you don’t have to deprive yourself and your loved one; nor will you be poised to overindulge. With the help of berries, nuts, dark chocolate, and spices, you will be prepared to have sweet but healthy Valentine Day treats!
1. Chocolate-Covered Strawberries
Wash and dry one pound of strawberries, about 20 to 25 pieces. Leave the stems on; set aside. Coarsely chop 4 ounces of semisweet or dark chocolate. Place the chocolate and 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom in a glass bowl and microwave; heat in 30-second intervals, stirring in between until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Be careful to not overheat, or else the chocolate will become clumpy.
Once the chocolate has the desired consistency, take a strawberry by the stem end and dip it in the melted chocolate, letting the excess chocolate drip off. Repeat with the remaining strawberries. Transfer the dipped strawberries onto a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Refrigerate the strawberries until the chocolate is firm, for at least 30 minutes. They will keep for up to 3 days, covered, in the refrigerator.
2. Ricotta Stuffed Strawberries
For every five strawberries (1 serving), allocate 2 tablespoons of whole milk ricotta, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/8 teaspoon ground fennel. Wash and hull strawberries and set aside. Combine ricotta and cinnamon in a bowl and using a fork, then whip to combine so ricotta texture becomes smooth and fluffy. Scoop ricotta-cinnamon mixture inside hollowed strawberries.
Optional: For extra oomph, add about two teaspoons of cooled and brewed coffee to your ricotta and spices.
3. Berry Crumble
Wash and set aside ½ cup berries. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and prepare two small ramekins or a small tartlet pan. Chop about 20 unsalted almonds. Soften 1 tablespoon unsalted butter. Using fingertips, cream chopped almonds and butter along with 1/4 teaspoon salt and ground nutmeg. (This will be your crumble topping.)
Divide berries amongst the two ramekins; top each with equal amounts crumble. Bake, uncovered, until berries bubble and crumble browns, about 10 minutes.
4. Dark Chocolate-Walnut Clusters
This recipe yields four clusters, allocating two clusters per person. Take about 2 “squares” or .75 to 1 ounce of dark chocolate and melt in the microwave for about 35 to 50 seconds. Add 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon to melted chocolate. Line a plate with parchment paper; take chocolate-walnut mixture and make 4 clusters. Place on parchment paper-lined plate and freeze for about 10 minutes. Chocolate will harden and clusters are ready to eat.