Valentine’s Day recipes by Chef Merajuddin Ansari, Executive Chef, Four Points by Sheraton, Navi Mumbai

Strawberry and Red Velvet Cake

Ingredients

Strawberry coulis:

300 grams strawberries

½ cup Demerara sugar

1 shot strawberry liqueur

1 heaped tsp honey

Red Velvet Cake:

2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour (or for every cup all-purpose flour remove 1 tbsp. and substitute with 1 tbsp. corn flour)

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons (15 grams) regular or Dutch-processed cocoa powder

1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated white sugar

2 large eggs (probably around 65 grams each)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk (or substitute with 1 cup milk with 1 tbsp. lemon juice)

2 tablespoons liquid red food colouring

1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar (no problem adding red wine vinegar)

1 teaspoon baking soda

Strawberry Cream Cheese Filling:

400 grams cream cheese, room temperature

250 grams heavy cream

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup (115 grams) confectioners’ (icing or powdered) sugar, sifted (reserve 2 tbsps. for frosting)

1 cup strawberry coulis

Cream Cheese Frosting:

250 of above cream cheese before adding the strawberry coulis

250 grams heavy cream

2 tbsp. icing sugar

Strawberry Syrup:

6 large strawberries

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup strawberry liqueur

Decoration:

6 strawberry chocolates

2 strawberries, halved

Method

•             Strawberry Coulis: Wash and hull the strawberries and place in a non-stick frying pan. Add the sugar, strawberry (or other) liqueur and honey and simmer for about ten minutes, stirring from time to time until the syrup is thick. Set aside until it cools.

•             Puree in a food processor.

•             Red Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and place rack in centre of oven. Butter two – 9 inch (23 cm) round cake pans and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper. Set aside.

•             In a mixing bowl sift together the flour, salt, and cocoa powder. Set aside.

•             In bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until soft (about 1-2 minutes). Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes).

•             Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.

•             In a measuring cup whisk the buttermilk with the red food colouring. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk to the butter mixture, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.

•             In a small cup combine the vinegar and baking soda. Allow the mixture to fizz and then quickly fold into the cake batter.

•             Working quickly, divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans and smooth the tops with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon.

•             Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 25 – 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cakes comes out clean.

•             Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Place a wire rack on top of the cake pan and invert, lifting off the pan.

•             Once the cakes have completely cooled, wrap in plastic and place the cake layers in the refrigerator for at least an hour (or overnight). (This is done to make filling and frosting the cakes easier.)

•             Cream Cheese Filling: In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese and heavy cream until smooth. Add the vanilla and confectioners’ sugar and beat until smooth.

•             Remove about 1/3 of cream cheese for the frosting. In the remaining add the strawberry coulis and mix until incorporated. Remove to a bowl and refrigerate.

•             Cream Cheese Frosting: In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the heavy cream with 2 tbsp. icing sugar until peaks form. Add reserved cream cheese and mix. Refrigerate.

•             Strawberry Syrup:  Cut the strawberries into small pieces. In a small frying pan add all the ingredients and bring to boil. Cook for 5 minutes.

•             Assemble: With a serrated knife, cut each cake layer in half, horizontally. You will now have four cake layers. Place one of the cake layers, top of the cake facing down, onto your serving platter. Wet all four pieces of cake with strawberry syrup.

•             Spread the three cakes with a layer of strawberry frosting. Add some of the strawberry pieces from the syrup.

•             Place the last layer of cake on top and cover with the white frosting on the top and sides of the cake. Reserve some whipped cream and mix in a drop of red colouring to make the pink decoration.

Strawberry Cheesecake

Ingredients

For The Crust

2 cups (200 g) graham cracker crumbs, about 2 sleeves

¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For The Filling

32 ounces (904 g) cream cheese, room temperature

1 ⅓ cups (266 g) granulated sugar

1 cup (227 g) sour cream, room temperature

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon salt

4 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten

For The Sauce

16 ounces (400 g) whole strawberries, diced

2 tablespoons corn-starch

1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

⅛ Teaspoon salt

2 cups (334 g) finely chopped strawberries

Method

Instructions

Crust

•             Move the oven rack to the lower third position and heat the oven to 350°F. Wrap the outer bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan tightly with aluminium foil.

•             Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom and about 2-inches up the sides of the pan.

•             Bake for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool while you make the filling.

Filling

•             Reduce the oven temperature to 300ºF.

•             In a large mixing bowl beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute.

•             Add the sugar and sour cream, beat until well combined. Add the vanilla and salt, beat on low speed until smooth.

•             Using a silicone spatula, gently stir in the eggs just until combined. Pour the batter over the prepared crust.

•             Fill a roasting pan with a few inches of boiling water and place the cheesecake in the centre.

•             Bake for 1 hour, OR until the edges are set and the centre is slightly jiggly. Turn the oven off, leave the cheesecake in the water bath in the oven for another hour.

•             Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and place it on a wire rack. Run a small knife around the outer edge of the cheesecake to loosen it from the pan and leave it to cool completely.

 Sauce

•             Add the diced strawberries and corn-starch to the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Transfer to a medium saucepan and add the sugar.

•             Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened, about 15 minutes.

•             Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, salt, and chopped strawberries. Set aside to cool for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

•             Spread the topping evenly over the cheesecake and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

•             Remove the sides of the pan just before serving.

Valentine Short Cake Cookies

INGREDIENTS

3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)

1/8 tsp salt

1 3/4 cups flour

Topping

6 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped

6 oz. white chocolate, chopped

INSTRUCTIONS

•             Beat butter and sugar in a large mixer bowl at medium speed until combined; add vanilla bean paste and salt and beat until incorporated. Scrape down bowl as needed.

•             Reduce speed to low and mix in flour just until incorporated and dough begins to come together in large pieces. Scrape dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, shape into a disk and wrap well.

•             Chill dough in the refrigerator until firm, about 30 minutes.

•             Preheat oven to 350°F and line two baking sheet with silicone mats or parchment paper. Roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick on a lightly floured board. Use a floured 2-inch fluted biscuit cutter to cut out cookies. Gather scraps, re-roll, and cut until you have a total of 24 cookies. Place cookies on baking sheet and chill for 20 minutes in the refrigerator.

•             Bake, rotating pans halfway through, for 14 to 15 minutes, until lightly golden and edges are set. Cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

•             Line two jelly roll pans with parchment paper. Place semisweet chocolate in a double boiler or in a heat-proof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Slowly melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally until glossy and smooth.

•             Dip one half of each cookie in melted chocolate and place on prepared pans. Chill cookies in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes, until set. Repeat with white chocolate, slowly melting until glossy and smooth.

•             Working quickly, dip the other half of each cookie in melted white chocolate and place back onto pans. Top with sprinkles, and chill again until chocolate is completely set, about 20 minutes. Store leftover cookies in a single layer at room temperature.

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