Saturday, February 9, 2013

Two chocolate recipes for you on Valentine's Week

Super congratulations to Krista and Sheila on their Agatha nominations!  We are so proud of you both!


By Victoria Abbott

Valentine's Day is right around the corner and, to us, that just screams chocolate.  For today, MJ wanted to do a Chocolate Grand Marnier Souffle. She thought that would be romantic on the 14th, perhaps with flickering candlelight and all that good stuff.  Perfect for two, since this particular souffle is quite good left over too. Why shouldn't February 15th have its share of chocolate romance? 

MJ is especially keen this year since her friend Rita visited recently from Connecticut and brought a package of Penzey's cocoa. Holy moly!

Victoria on the other hand reminded her that there's a family party scheduled for Sunday and that means children and  chocolate cookies for dessert.  These Chewy Brownie Cookies would be just the ticket. And better yet, they could be taste tested in advance.

What to do?

Why get hung up on it, we decided. Let's think of this as Valentine's Week and we can have it all, even some of those excellent chocolate macaroons that Sheila posted yesterday,

MJ loves making souffles - and they're straightforward and fun if you can whip egg whites, which you can. They are easier than people think.

Chocolate Grand Marnier Souffle


For Chocolate Grand Marnier Souffle all you need is:

1 cup milk
3/8 cup cocoa (we used Penzey's and zowie! but have made it with various cocoa - all good)
2/3 cup sugar
4 tbsp butter
3/8 cup sifted flour
6 egg yolks, beaten
6 tbsp Grand Marnier (or your favorite liqueur)
Dash salt
1 tsp vanilla
7 egg whiles

Combine the milk, cocoa and sugar in the top of a double boiler. (Truth in advertising: at this point, MJ realized she no longer owned a double boiler.  An oven proof glass bowl set into a pot of simmering water did the trick.)

Cook twenty minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

In another saucepan, melt the butter, stir in the flour until smooth. Add the cocoa mixture, stirring until smooth.

Remove from heat and cool 10 minutes.

Gradually add the egg yolks, blending well.

Add the Grand Marnier, salt and vanilla. Stir.

Preheat the oven to 375.

Beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. They looked a bit more dramatic 'in person'.

Fold them into the cocoa mixture carefully. Do not beat! Or you'll have a chocolate pancake.

Pour into an ungreased 2-quart souffle dish (or casserole as MJ did). Souffle dish hasn't surfaced since our move. Must check the garage. 

Bake 30 minutes. 

Serve at once.

Lucky the DH likes to cook, so he'll do Valentine's dinner!

Now let's get those cookies going.

Chewy chocolate brownie cookies

Gather up your ingredients. Don't worry about the pooch. The dachshund is a salt shaker.

3 cups flour
(extra for rolling out)
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa (we used rest of the Penzey's)
3/4 tsp table salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp almond extract

Preheat the oven to 350.

Mix the flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder in a bowl.  Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time. Mix in vanilla and almond.  Add dry ingredients gradually and mix well.

Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes to an hour.

Roll out dough on floured board or counter until about 1/4 inch thick (nice and even). Cut into shapes - we picked hearts (and some stars).  We also popped a white chocolate chip in the center of some of those lucky stars.

Line two cookie trays with parchment paper (you'll be glad you did) and bake cookies for 11 minutes. They should still be soft in the middle, but puffed.

Cool on a rack.  This recipe makes somewhere between 42 and 64 cookies depending on the size of your cookie cutters.

We find these cookies freeze well in Ziploc bags and are even more brownie-like when defrosted.
You can save a few that way too.

Serve - carefully. They go fast.  So now we'd like to ask: what's your favorite Valentine treat?  

If you manage to save a few, they'd be very tasty to nibble on as you lounge in an easy chair with a copy of our book  The Christie Curse, coming on March 5th! We think it's a tasty treat too! It's available for pre-order now.

The Christie Curse: a book collector mystery, by Victoria Abbott
First in a new series!
Victoria Abbott is Mary Jane Maffini & Victoria Maffini


  1. I don't have a Valentine's treat per se...although I try to have beef wrapped in bacon. My favorite chocolate shop has amazing sea salt caramels-so that might be my treat!

    1. Beef in bacon is often my drug of choice, Katreader! Our major bookstore chain in Canada often has those sea salt caramels too. They are a wonderful treat.


  2. Aren't those little chocolate hearts cute?? Darling! Love the picture of you two. Can't wait for your new release!

    My Valentine treat? My husband. Awwww.

    Love and hugs,

    Daryl / Avery

  3. Thank you, Daryl/Avery! I am sure you are his Valentine treat too.
    Aw again.

    MJ (channeling Victoria)

  4. Deliciously perfect recipes for Valentine's week, MJ (aka Victoria)! Those little brownie hearts are especially cute. Pass me one? (Okay, make that four!)

    ~ Cleo

    1. If I get to NYC, I'll bring some, Cleo. Although something tells me there are lots of wonderful treats in your kitchen!

  5. Well now I want chocolate! Wonder why. Let me just say that chocolate covered sea salt caramels are the best indulgence anytime!

    Love your dachshund salt shaker! So cute!

    I have to try that Grand Marnier chocolate souffle. Oh, yum!

    ~ Krista

    1. Thanks, Krista - at another time of year I will use the beautiful dachshund cookie cutter you gave me!

  6. Completely forgot to thank you for your kind congratulations on the Agatha nomination! Thank you, Thank you! I'm sure Sheila would also thank you if she had electricity.


    1. You are welcome. I was thrilled to see you and Sheila on the list. My friend and former business partner Erika Chase is there too! It will be an exciting evening!

  7. One can never have too much chocolate, although it is possible to not have enough! Yum to both recipes. I've made chocolate souffles but don't remember a 20 minute cooking step. Interesting.

    1. That surprised me too, Libby, as it had been a while since I made that recipe - but it did make for a mellow flavor.
      I needed a recipe that called for cocoa instead of chocolate.

      I agree that you can have not enough!

  8. Is there a word that tops 'decadent'? Can't think of it. That's what this recipe wonderfully decadent! Thank for the temptation, Mary Jane.

  9. We agree with Libby! You can NEVER have too much chocolate :)

    P.S they look delicious