Rise 'n Shine

It's hard not to get caught up in the Hallmark-inspired, chocolate-coated holiday that is Valentine's Day. Seeing roses and chocolates draped across every store front and listening to the crooning of the latest heart-throb to share tales of the heart is enough to make anyone feel like Scrooge if they aren't going out of their way to make the day special. But I like to think there are ways to celebrate Valentine's Day -- and any day that brings us thoughts of love, for that matter -- that involve more than charging something to a credit card that might already be suffering from an overzealous holiday season.

So, being a true romantic at heart, I'm offering a fun and romantic way to say "I love you" without breaking the bank or ending up looking cheap. It's time to put together a luxurious breakfast in bed for your sweetheart. I'm recommending a menu ... it's up to you to put the finishing touches on the event. Just remember the power of:

  • Music - think soft tunes for waking
  • Soft Light - think rising sun and/or candlelight
  • Presentation - think a lovely breakfast tray that can be easily carried, enjoyed and then set aside

As for the menu, a stack of rich, chocolaty pancakes covered in fresh fruit and whipped cream screams "special" and can be rounded out easily with coffee, tea or hot chocolate. Speaking of hot chocolate, make certain that you choose a high quality hot cocoa powder for this recipe or you will be disappointed with the flavor. In fact, choose a really fantastic one and serve a cup of the same cocoa alongside the pancakes and you're already on your way to a Happy Valentine's Day!

Chocolate Pancakes

  • 1 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 T. hot cocoa powder
  • 2 T. melted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 c. milk

Thoroughly combine all of the dry ingredients (flour through cocoa powder). Thoroughly combine all of the wet ingredients (butter thought milk). Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix to combine. Do not over beat!

Heat a griddle; lightly oil the surface and wipe up the excess oil with a paper towel. Ladle the batter onto the griddle and cook the pancakes until they are bubbly on top and the edges are bubbly and no longer shiny. Flip the pancakes and cook them for another minute.

A romantic serving suggestion: Top a stack of pancakes with thinly sliced strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream. If you want to go all out, grate a little nutmeg and dark chocolate over them before presenting them to your love!

  • Yields: 2 servings
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes
As always, I encourage you to share your recipe ideas and comments. You can always post comments in the discussion board using the forms provided in the articles or email me directly at .

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