Topic: Food

Valentine’s Day

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Some say Valentine’s Day is a phony-baloney holiday, created by restaurants and greeting-card companies. As a “singleton” and a cynical bird by nature, the approach of February 14 could easily churn me into a bitter spiral, especially upon hearing “every kiss begins with ‘K'” or walking by the cheery, heart-laden, red-laced windows of lingerie shops. Oh no, not me. I believe in love. Instead of trying to ignore it all, this year I embraced Singles Awareness Day. Despite the very unfortunate acronym, it was a success. Ten single friends (okay, one couple and one friend whose husband was traveling-but why nitpick?) came over last Saturday for a special night that celebrated us.

I had my young friends Casey, Matt, Tori, and Simon cut out paper hearts and hang them from the ceiling with thread and Scotch tape (yes, there are still several pieces of tape stubbornly clinging to the ceiling). My dear friend Nan handed over her red velvet cake recipe, which was the highlight (I found miniature, heart-shaped muffin tins at the Christmas Tree Shop at a great price). After dinner, a second shift of V-Day revelers made their way to the party, which went on until the wee hours. I may be single, but I felt the love.

Nan’s Red Velvet Cake

These instructions are for two 8-inch layer cakes, but it works for cupcakes, too (just mind the shorter cooking time). Also, the original called for less cocoa, but Nan said, as she handed it to me, “I always add a bit more.” I added the extra cocoa to the ingredients measure here.

    For the cake:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 11/2cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 ounces (2 small bottles) red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Beat in eggs.

In a separate small bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, and salt. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Stir just until incorporated. Add 1/3 of the buttermilk. Alternate mixing in flour and buttermilk in thirds.

Add vanilla and food coloring. Dissolve baking soda in vinegar. Add to creamed mixture.

Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out dry.

    For the frosting:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

In a medium saucepan over low heat, whisk together milk, flour, and salt. Cook, whisking often, until thickened to pudding consistency. Set aside to cool.

In a separate bowl, cream together sugar, butter, and vanilla. Using a whisk or an electric mixer, add to the “pudding” mixture.

Frost, once the cake is fully cooled.


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