Chocolate and berries, oh my

A little melted chocolate goes a long way.

Molten lava cake
from LeslieSarna.com

Chocolate has serotonin, a chemical that lights up the pleasure centers in the brain. It also boasts phenylethylamine, a stimulant that is released in the brain when people fall in love. Bake it into a warm and moist cake with a rich, gooey center, and your date will be putty in your hands!

Serves six

Ingredients:

1 stick of butter plus a pad for greasing
4 oz. super-dark chocolate
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp. sifted flour
cocoa powder

Directions:

1 Butter and flour six ramekins (small dishes). But instead of flour, use cocoa powder. Place ramekins on a cookie sheet.
2 In a double boiler, on low, melt the chocolate and butter together. When they’re melted, turn off the heat and set aside.
3 Mix eggs, yolks and sugar together.
4 Gradually, drizzle in the chocolate and mix well.
5 Pour into the ramekins. Fill them about 1/2 to 2/3 of the way to the top.
6 Bake for seven minutes at 450 degrees. Be sure not to overcook or the center will not be molten.
7 Remove from oven and one by one run a knife around the edges to loosen it.
8 To get it onto the plate, hold the ramekin from the bottom in one hand and place the plate on top with the other then flip. Tap the bottom of the ramekin and remove it.   
9 Dust with powdered sugar. Garnish with mint and strawberries if desired.

Stuffed Strawberries
from BakersRoyale.com

Ingredients:

2 dozen strawberries
8 ounce cream cheese
1/4 cup powdered sugar
Dash of vanilla extract ­­

Directions:

1 Slice a small wedge out of each strawberry.
2 Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla.
3 Use a teaspoon or a pastry bag with a decorative tip to fill the strawberries with the cream cheese mixture.
4 For an extra special touch: Add a poof of whipped cream on top, or dip the berries in chocolate. 

Spiced rum balls
from CookingSF.com

Makes 40 balls
30 minutes

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups vanilla wafer cookie crumbs (ground in food processor)
1/2 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
1 cup pecan halves, finely ground
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, in pieces
1/2 cup Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum
3 tablespoons reduced maple syrup (see note)
1 cup white sanding sugar or granulated sugar

Directions:

1 Combine first 3 ingredients in a large bowl.
2 Melt the chocolate until smooth, either in the microwave according to the package directions or in a double boiler or a heavy saucepan. Once chocolate is melted add the rum and the reduced maple syrup and stir until well combined.
3 Add the chocolate mixture to the vanilla wafer mixture and stir until all ingredients are well combined.  Let the mixture rest for 30 minutes.
4 Using a spoon or small ice cream scoop, scrape out small chunks and form 1 inch balls by rolling the rum ball mixture between your hands. Roll balls in sanding sugar and serve. The rum balls can be stored at room temperature for a week or frozen for a month. (Thaw at room temperature before serving.)


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