Next Best Thing to Robert Redford
Next Best Thing to Robert Redford
Perhaps you're giving a sweet to your sweetheart this Valentine's Day. According to there will be more than 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate purchased this year.

Surprisingly, Valentine's Day is only the fourth-biggest holiday for candy sales after Halloween, Easter and Christmas.

The first box of chocolates for Valentine's Day was produced by Richard Cadbury in the late 1800s. The trend has grown to a $1 billion chocolate industry each year in the United States.

Chocolate has always been cherished from its very beginning. Etymologists trace the origin of the word "chocolate" to the Aztec word, "xocoatl." According to the, it's unknown when chocolate was born, but it's at least 2,000 years old. In pre-modern Latin America cacao beans were valuable enough to be used as currency. One bean could be traded for a tamale, and 100 beans could buy a hen.

Whether you buy a box of chocolates for your loved ones or bake them a sweet treat, enjoy some chocolate with someone special this Valentine's Day.


This sweet and creamy version of Tiramisu comes from the Taste of Home Test Kitchen. The recipe is simple enough to have ready for dessert Thursday evening.

2 cups cold milk

1 pkg (3.4 oz) instant vanilla pudding mix

1 cup heavy whipping cream

3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

18 lady fingers, split

2½ teaspoons instant coffee granules

½ cup boiling water

1 tablespoon baking cocoa

In a large bowl, whisk milk and pudding mix for 2 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set. In a small bowl, beat cream until it begins to thicken. Add confectioners' sugar; beat until soft peaks form. Fold into pudding; cover and refrigerate.

Arrange half of the ladyfingers cut side up in an 11x7-inch dish. Dissolve coffee granules in boiling water; drizzle half over the ladyfingers. Spread with half of the pudding mixture. Repeat layers. Sprinkle with cocoa. Refrigerate until serving.

Yield: 6 servings

Texas Sheet Cake

The speech and language pathologist at my school, Jeanne Haydon, baked these brownies to share with teachers and staff. They were so scrumptious I had to ask for the recipe. I think what makes these brownies so special is the touch of cinnamon.

1 cup water

½ cup butter or margarine

¼ cup shortening (Crisco)

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ cup buttermilk or sour milk

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla


½ cup butter or margarine

6 tablespoons buttermilk or sour milk

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 (16 oz) pkg powdered sugar, sifted (about 4¾ cups)

1 teaspoon vanilla

In saucepan combine water, ½ cup butter or margarine, shortening, and ¼ cup cocoa powder; cook and stir until boiling. Remove from heat.

In mixing bowl stir together flour, granulated sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and ½ teaspoon salt. Add hot cocoa mixture; mix until smooth. Add the ½ cup buttermilk or sour milk, eggs, and the first 1 teaspoon vanilla; beat well. Pour into greased 15x10x1 inch baking pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile in saucepan combine ½ cup butter or margarine, the remaining buttermilk or sour milk, and ¼ cup cocoa powder. Cook and stir until boiling; remove from heat. Gradually blend in powdered sugar and the remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla until smooth. Immediately pour frosting over warm cake. Cool.

Next Best Thing to Robert Redford

When I was teaching at Capitol View Elementary in Des Moines, my colleagues hosted a recipe shower in honor of my upcoming wedding. Cath King, a kindergarten teacher, shared this recipe for my recipe collection.

1 cup flour

½ cup (1stick) margarine

1 cup finely chopped pecans

1 cup powdered sugar

1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, softened

1 (12 oz) carton Cool Whip, thawed

1 (4½ oz) pkg instant vanilla pudding mix

1 (4½ oz) pkg instant chocolate pudding mix

3 cups cold milk

Mix flour, margarine and pecans. Press into bottom of greased 9x13 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool. Beat powdered sugar, cream cheese and half of the Cool Whip together until smooth. Fold in the Cool Whip after mixing the sugar and creamed cheese. Spread on crust. Beat pudding and milk together until smooth and thickened. Spread over second layer. Top with remaining Cool Whip and grated chocolate bar, optional. Cover and refrigerate 24 hours or more.

Yield: 16 servings

Speedy Little Devils

Marci (Baumhover) Hayes and her husband, Tim, of West Des Moines, recently had a third boy. Marci and I taught together at Capitol View several years ago. It was nice to have a familiar face in the hallways at school. I have known Marci since she was a little girl as her older sister, Ann, and I played together as children.

If you're a fan of chocolate and peanut butter, try this quick recipe given to me by Marci.

1 box chocolate cake mix

1 stick butter, softened

1 (7 oz) jar marshmallow crème

¾ cup peanut butter

Mix cake mix and butter and save 1½ cups for the topping. In a microwave-safe bowl microwave marshmallow crème and peanut butter for 30 seconds. Stir. Pat larger portion of cake and butter mixture in bottom of ungreased 9x13 pan. Spread marshmallow crème and peanut butter mixture on top. Sprinkle remaining 1½ cups of cake crumbs on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.