On Thursday, The Early Show and specialty home furnishings retailer Williams Sonoma continued their special three-part series,, which suggests a variety of ideas to make the day as special as it can be.
The segments originate from the Williams-Sonoma flagship store at Columbus Circle in New York City.
They're hosted by The Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm. She's joined by culinary expert Tori Ritchie, a San Francisco-based food writer, cooking teacher and host of the long-running "Ultimate Kitchens" on the Food Network. Her latest cookbook is "Party Appetizers: Small Bites, Big Flavors" (Chronicle Books, Fall 2004).
When adding the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mix them in quickly, just enough to form a rough, lumpy batter. If the batter is overbeaten, the muffins will be tough.
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
3 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup dried cherries
Preheat an oven to 325ºF. Grease a six-well heart-shaped muffin baking pan.
In a small heatproof bowl, combine the chocolate and butter. Set the bowl over but not touching simmering water in a small saucepan and melt the chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally, until smooth and blended. Let cool slightly.
In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the egg, sugar and vanilla until light in color and doubled in volume. Whisk in the chocolate mixture and then the flour mixture just until combined. Stir in the dried cherries. Divide the batter evenly among the wells of the prepared pan and smooth the tops. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 20 minutes.
Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Remove the muffins from the pan and set on the rack. Serve warm. Makes 6 muffins.
Valentine Sugar Cookies
When working with differently shaped cookie cutters, make sure that the cookies on each cookie sheet are the same shape to ensure even baking.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter
8 Tbs. (1 stick) margarine
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
Frosting, decorative icings and sugars
Have all the ingredients at room temperature.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat together the butter, margarine and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and lemon zest and beat until just blended. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, beating each addition until just blended.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a ball. Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a disk. Wrap the disks separately in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or as long as overnight.
Preheat an oven to 350ºF.
Generously flour 2 cookie sheets and roll out the dough directly onto the sheets to 1/4-inch thickness. Using lightly floured cookie cutters, cut out cookies. Carefully gather the dough from around the cutouts and set aside to roll out again.
Bake the cookies until the edges are just golden and the centers are just firm to the touch, 12 to 15 minutes. Using a thin metal spatula, immediately loosen the cookies and let them set for 3 to 5 minutes, then carefully transfer them to a wire rack and let cool completely. When the cookie sheets have cooled, roll out the remaining dough onto the sheets, cut out cookies and bake.
Decorate the cookies with frosting, icings and sugars. Store in an airtight container for up to 7 days. Makes 20 to 24 cookies.
Mixed Berry Bundt Cake
Laced with juicy berries, this heart-shaped cake makes a delicious finale to a Valentine's Day celebration. Tossing the berries with a bit of flour prevents them from sinking to the bottom of the cake.
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
20 Tbs. (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
2 Tbs. kirsch or other fruit liqueur
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt
3 1/2 cups raspberries
1 1/2 cups blueberries or blackberries
Confectioners' sugar for dusting (optional)
Preheat an oven to 325°F. Butter and flour an elegant heart cake pan.
In a large bowl, blend the eggs and granulated sugar. Using an electric mixer, beat in the butter and liqueur until fluffy. Add all but 2 Tbs. of the flour and the baking powder and salt, and beat until well incorporated and no lumps remain.
In another bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups of the raspberries and the blueberries with the remaining 2 Tbs. flour. Toss to coat the berries evenly with the flour. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the berries into the batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a wooden skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool in the pan for 20 to 25 minutes. Unmold the cake onto the rack and let cool completely.
Fill the center of the cake with the remaining 2 cups raspberries. Dust the cake with confectioners' sugar. Serves 10 to 12.
Chewy Valentine Chip Cookies
These chocolate chip cookies are chewy in texture because they rely on room-temperature butter that is beaten with the sugar until fluffy. Our Valentine chocolate chips add festive color to the cookies, which are equally delicious with semi-sweet chocolate chips.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
16 Tbs. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
12 oz. Valentine chocolate chips (available at Williams-Sonoma stores)
Preheat an oven to 350°F. Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
Over a sheet of waxed paper, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on medium-low speed until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the brown and granulated sugars, increase the speed to medium and beat until slightly fluffy, about 1 minute, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in the vanilla, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Reduce the speed to low, gradually add the flour mixture and beat until just combined. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the chocolate chips.
Drop the dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto the prepared pan, spacing the cookies about 2 inches apart. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cookies cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer them to the rack and let cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough. Makes 36 cookies. Courtesy Williams-Sonoma Kitchen