Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day: Cream Cheese Swirled Brownies with a Strawberry Sauce

Valentine's Day is one of those polarizing holidays. People--whether they're single or in a relationship--either abhor February 14th or absolutely love all that it stands for: the hearts and cupids, doilies and doves, chocolates and flowers. Valentine's Day has a reputation as a commercial, Hallmark holiday. It may have become just that, but it has legitimate roots. It was first established way back in 496 AD by Pope Gelasius I to honor Saint Valentine. However, there are 14 Saint Valentines. The one celebrated on February 14 may refer to Valentine of Rome, a Roman priest who was persecuted and killed around 269 AD; Valentine of Terni, a bishop who was killed under the persecution of Emperor Aurelian; or a possible third, mysterious Valentine martyred in Africa. Since no one was sure which Saint Valentine was being honored, the feast day was removed from the Catholic calendar in 1969 by Pope Paul VI.

Geoffrey Chaucer
So far nothing very romantic. It was Geoffrey Chaucer who imbued Valentine's day with romantic love when he wrote Parlement of Foules in the 14th century.

"For this was on Saint Valentine's Day,
When every bird cometh there to choose his mate"

Flash forward to the 15th century: Valentine's Day has become a day for couples to show their love for one another by giving flowers, candies, and cards--the same traditions we follow to this day.

While I like the idea that the author of The Canterbury Tales gave us Valentine's Day as we know it, Eric and I mostly use the holiday as another excuse to indulge chocolatey goodness. This year Eric (who is sick, the poor guy) gave me some delicious Ghirardelli chocolates and I made him cream cheese swirled brownies with strawberry sauce. 

Yesterday I wrote about doctoring cake mixes. Today I doctored a Ghirardelli brownie mix by adding a cream cheese swirl.

Brownie Ingredients: 
brownie mix
ingredients called for by the mix (eggs, oil, water)
1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk

Prepare the brownie batter according to package directions, pour into a baking dish, and set aside.

In a medium bowl blend the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and milk on medium speed with a mixer. Scoop large spoonful of cream cheese mixture into the brownie batter. With a spatula, swirl the cream cheese throughout the batter.

Bake according to package directions. With that said, my brownies needed 10 more minutes than the package said. It may have been the brand cake mix or the added cream cheese, so keep an eye on your brownies as they bake.

cream cheese swirl brownies

Strawberry Topping Ingredients:
3 cups strawberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup brandy, optional

Mix sugar and cornstarch together in a saucepan. Stir in water and orange juice. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring continuously, until the mixture thickens. Add strawberries and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for approximately 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Add the brandy and flambé. Spoon over brownies.

strawberry sauce

flambé in the dark

Happy Valentine's Day and Enjoy!


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