Happy, Healthy Valentine’s Day — With a Little Chocolate!

February 12, 2009

This blog is part of our new Friday-morning series on fun, healthy snacks and recipes.

by Jean Saunders, HSC School Wellness Director

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and, around the country, classroom celebrations are underway. Teachers and parents are wrestling with the question of how to create a fun celebration that reflects the traditions of Valentine’s Day but also sends the right message to students about making healthy choices.

Valentine
I’ve learned firsthand that involving teachers, parents and students in planning the event is an important step to creating a celebration that meets everyone’s expectations for a fun Valentine’s Day.

Two years ago I wrote about a Valentine's day that was a little too “sweet,” but last year I wrote about how the principal, parents and teachers at my son’s school were able to create healthy celebrations – and by all reports, the Valentine’s Day parties were a huge success with many fewer candies and sweet treats than in previous years.  Be sure to check out HSC’s Quick & Easy Guide to School Wellness for ideas for healthy treats and celebrations.

My son is in middle school now, and I’ve learned that middle-schoolers don’t have Valentine’s Day classroom parties like younger kids do. So at my house, we’re focusing on what we’re going to do at home. Yesterday, my son asked if there was something special I’d like to have on Valentine’s Day, and I have to admit that my mind went straight to chocolate! 

When you decide it’s time for a small chocolate treat, here’s a recipe to help – for a  (slightly!) healthier version of flourless chocolate cakes. They are healthier because the serving size is small and because the fat is reduced by using just egg whites instead of whole eggs. I’ve made these little cakes many times – I  think they a great way to enjoy a chocolate indulgence, with a little fruit on the side.

If you really want to impress your special Valentines, you can decorate the top of the cakes with a heart. To do this, take a piece of paper larger than the cake and cut out a heart shape (making a heart-shaped stencil). Lay the stencil over the cake and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Carefully remove the stencil. Et voila, a pretty white heart!

Mini flourless chocolate cakes with berry sauce

4 tablespoons butter
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped finely
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
¼ tsp salt
4 egg whites
4 tablespoons granulated sugar

Heat oven to 400 F. Spray muffin cups with pan spray.

Combine chocolate and butter in  a double boiler and melt. Stir in cocoa powder and salt. Remove from heat. Using mixer,  beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Mix in sugar and continue mixing egg whites until they are stiff, but not dry. Whisk in ¼ of the chocolate mixture to the egg whites to temper. Fold in remaining chocolate. Fill muffin cups about 2/3 full and bake until tops are firm, and centers are soft, about 8 minutes. Remove cakes from muffin cups and serve with berry sauce.

Berry sauce
1 ½ pints mixed berries (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries). Use frozen if fresh berries are not in season.
3 tablespoons sugar
Juice from half a lemon
Zest from one lemon, chopped finely

Combine berries, sugar, lemon and lemon zest in a saucepan. Heat over medium heat until fruit is softened. Remove from heat and puree in food processor. Strain through a sieve and serve over mini chocolate cakes.

Happy Valentine’s Day!