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The Times
  • My tasty Valentine

  • Strawberry Velvet Shortcake shows true love.

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  • Lacy, loving messages come in all shapes and sizes on Valentine’s Day. This year, why not let Strawberry Velvet Shortcake convey your feelings? Whether you prepare a feast at home or eat out and then invite your sweetie to a private dessert, this vivid creation is sure to end your meal with a flourish.
    This dish has several components, including a garnish and a sauce, so it qualifies as a complex dessert and looks very fancy. But it’s not difficult. Three of the components should be made at least a day ahead, so you’ll be preparing most of this treat in advance.
    We’ve suggested ways to assemble the shortcake, but it’s better to let your own creativity loose. Go with the flow and make the dessert your own.
    Do these things in advance
    Cake: Instead of the standard golden sponge cake base, we’re using red velvet. If you have a particular favorite recipe, use that. But a store-bought mix works fine, especially if you add a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract to the batter.
    After the cake cools, use cookie cutters to make heart-shaped cake bases.
    Sauce: Strawberries, fresh or frozen, work beautifully here. Be sure to set aside several whole berries so you can decorate with one perfect gem or with spoonfuls of chopped fruit.
    To make the sauce, put a pound of strawberries and 1/3 to 1/2 cup of granulated sugar in a food processor or blender. The amount of sugar depends on your sweet tooth. Puree the fruit and sugar to liquid. For a sophisticated twist, consider mixing in 3 tablespoons of liqueur or alcohol, such as Grand Marnier, Triple Sec or vodka.
    Hearts: White rolled fondant is available at cooking supply and some craft stores. Knead the fondant until it’s soft, then roll it 1/8-inch thick. Continue the traditional Valentine motif, using cookie cutters to create hearts in various sizes. Let these dry and harden for at least 24 hours.
    Serving the shortcake
    You’re almost ready to plate this pretty dessert. You’ll need whipped cream, powdered sugar and, if you like, a few white chocolate bits.
    To assemble, start by pouring a shallow pool of sauce into each dessert plate. Set a cake heart base in the center of the sauce. For a two-tiered shortcake, place a smaller heart on top.
    Load whipped cream into a piping bag fitted with a small star tip. No piping bag? Then use a freezer bag with a tiny corner cut out. Now you’re ready to add outline accents to the shortcake.
    Top the dessert with a plump strawberry or a layer of diced fruit. Add a few white chocolate bits.
    Page 2 of 2 - Arrange fondant hearts in the sauce, and dust each serving with a little powdered sugar through a fine-mesh strainer.

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