Cupid’s chocolate cake

What’s Cookin’?

By Donna Zitter Bordelon

You’re so sweet: Your significant other will be fawning over you once they have a taste of this cake.

Perhaps Charles Schulz’s Peanuts character, Lucy Van Pelt, said it best, “All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”

And maybe some port wine, too. Jeanne Louise Calment must have agreed with Lucy. Calment, a French woman, lived 122 years and 164 days — longer than anyone else whose life span can be verified from official records. She credited her longevity to eating olive oil, port wine and chocolate every week. In order to celebrate Valentine’s Day, and hopefully for many years to come, make some No Eggs-No Butter Chocolate Cake along with a Port Wine Heart.

Calment was quoted as saying, “I never had but one wrinkle, and I’m sitting on it.” Could chocolate, port and humor be the ticket to longevity? The following are two heart-healthy recipes that any sweetie would love to eat. If you do not have a heart-shaped cake pan, you can make one using standard baking tins.

Here’s how: First, make a round cake and a square cake. Cut the round cake in half. Then turn the square cake so the corners face you, and it appears to be a diamond shape rather than a square. Place each half of the round cake on the two uppermost sides of the diamond and you now have a perfectly heart-shaped cake. There is no such thing as a bad banana, if you use it to make this cake.

No Eggs-No Butter Delicious Chocolate Cake

2 very ripe bananas

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup baking cocoa

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup water

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. vinegar (white or apple cider)

1/4 tsp. salt

1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly grease or oil an 8x8x2-inch baking pan (or heart-shaped equivalent).

Put bananas into this pan and mash well with fork.

Put in remaining ingredients, except chocolate chips, and stir very well using the fork.

Sprinkle chocolate chips over the batter.

Bake for 35 to 37 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the pan. Gently nudge the cake free around all sides and then carefully flip out of pan. Carefully flip so chocolate chips are on top. Allow to cool completely.

If you do not wish to fill the cake or serve in a heart presentation, cake can be cut and eaten out of the pan. (Now how easy is that!)

If you are baking for a peanut butter lover, when the cake has cooled, slice it in half horizontally, and fill it with this peanut butter filling.

PEANUT BUTTER FILLING

1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/4 cup water

1/8 tsp. vanilla extract

In a small bowl, mix all ingredients together until smooth and gooey. Place filling on bottom of heart and cover with top half of heart with chocolate chip morsels on top.

There is no better accompaniment to chocolate than port wine, according to Madame Calment.

PORT WINE HEART

1 envelope KNOX unflavored gelatin

3/4 cup water

3/4 cup port wine (or your favorite sweet red)

1 15-oz. can Pitted Dark Sweet cherries, drained

(Reserve liquid)

In a medium bowl, put the gelatin.

Add boiling water and stir vigorously until gelatin is completely dissolved.

Stir in the wine and the reserved cherry liquid.

Chill, stirring occasionally and whisking the bottom of the bowl until mixture is the consistency of unbeaten egg whites or begins to congeal.

Fold in the cherries.

If using a mold: Spray mold lightly with oil. Pour gelatin mixture into mold.

Chill bowl or mold until firm.

To unmold:

Fill a pan larger than your mold with warm water. Submerge the mold pan in the warm water for 3 or 4 seconds being careful not to allow water to enter the pan. Have a plate ready to cover the mold and gently flip the gelatin onto the dish.

A small dollop of whipped cream really makes this dessert special.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Eat well, live long, enjoy!

(Questions or tips can be sent to Donna Zitter Bordelon at WhatscookinNEPhilly@gmail.com or in care of the Times, 2 Executive Campus, Suite 400, Cherry Hill, NJ 08002)