Valentine's Day is all about flowers, love … and chocolate.
Sure, you can buy a box of chocolate candy for your special someone, but a gift you've made with your own hands — something from the heart — is extra-special. And when that gift involves chocolate (think fudge brownies); so much the better!
Still, what if your intended is dealing with a food allergy? Maybe he's eating gluten-free; perhaps she's lactose intolerant and avoiding milk products. Either way, you can still make these delicious Chocolate Brownie Hearts. Plus, you can serve them to everyone: They're so sumptuously rich and chocolatey, no one will ever know they're gluten- and dairy-free.
Bonus: The flavanols and antioxidants in cocoa powder (as well as in dark chocolate) offer protection against heart disease and diabetes; and also improve cognitive function and mood, according to results of a study published by the government's National Center for Biotechnology Information. How's that for a win-win?
- 2/3 cup baking cocoa
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup gluten-free flour*
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons water or brewed coffee
- 3 large eggs
*Use a 1:1 gluten-free replacement flour, e.g., King Arthur Gluten-Free Measure for Measure Flour, Cup4Cup Multipurpose Flour, etc.
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8x 8-inch square pan; line it with parchment (if you have it) and grease the parchment. This will make the brownies easier to get out of the pan when it comes time to cut them into hearts.
Mix everything together in a medium-sized bowl, stirring until fairly smooth.
Scoop the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing it into the corners.
Bake the brownies for 30 to 32 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, or with a few moist crumbs clinging to it.
Remove the brownies from the oven and let them cool right in the pan. When they're cool, loosen the edges, and turn them out of the pan onto a piece of parchment or waxed paper.
Use a heart cutter to cut heart shapes. (Enjoy the scraps - baker's treat!).
Put 1 cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips into a heatproof bowl. Heat 1/4 cup cashew milk (or other non-dairy milk of your choice) to a simmer and pour over the chips. Let sit for three minutes, then stir until smooth.
Dip the hearts into the melted chocolate.
Place them on a sheet of parchment or waxed paper. Center a candy "conversation heart" on each, if desired.
Allow the hearts to set at room temperature; if you're in a hurry, refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Yield: 16 medium (2-inch) hearts.