Valentine’s Day is, among other things, a great excuse to eat obscene amounts of chocolate (as is any day before or after Valentine’s Day). Relationships are cool and everything, but whether you’re in one or not, you deserve to celebrate love with delicious treats. You can easily find recipes that serve two or more, but for those of us observing a glorious day of self-love, I’ve engineered three recipes that are just the right size for the original bae. Since the ingredient amounts are unusually small, a stand mixer won’t be effective; all of these recipes can be done by hand or with an electric hand mixer.
Petite Peanut Butter Cheesecake
This is for the dessert-lover who thinks everything can be improved by adding more peanut butter. Though petite, this thick, fudgy, New York-style cheesecake is still capable of exceeding all of your cheesecake expectations. An 8- or 10-ounce ramekin is optimal for a taller looking personal cheesecake, but a ramekin up to 14 ounces (like I used) will work just fine. Plan ahead to ensure your ingredients are room temperature and you’ll be rewarded with a silky-smooth spoonful. (I go as far as microwaving the cream cheese for 20-30 seconds until it has a mayonnaise-like consistency.)
- ¼ cup of chocolate cookie crumbles
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon butter (melted)
- 4 ounces cream cheese (warm)
- 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
- 1 pinch salt (*omit if using salted peanut butter)
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter (unsalted*)
- 1 teaspoon heavy cream
Preheat your oven to 350℉. Lightly butter the bottom of an 8- or 10-ounce ramekin.
Combine all three crust ingredients in a small bowl. The butter will moisten the crumbs but still be loose. Press the crumb mixture into a flat layer at the bottom of the ramekin.
Bake the crust at 350℉ for 10 minutes. When you open the oven it will smell chocolatey, but the edges of the crust should not darken. Set aside to cool. Decrease the oven temperature to 325℉.
While the crust cools, mix together all of the cheesecake batter ingredients, in the order listed, until smooth.
Carefully butter the cooled sides of the ramekin without disturbing the crumb crust. Pour the cheesecake batter in and smooth the top.
Bake cheesecake in a water bath at 325℉ for 30-35 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when small bubbles appear on the edges and the center is set.
Opposite from dense indulgence is delicate, fluffy satisfaction. (Both roads lead to “I love myself.”) This pavlova takes patience, but it’s the kind of patience where you set a timer and go watch half of Encanto, open the oven door a smidge, finish the movie, and then devour fluffy meringue, fruit, and whipped cream with a side of weeping.
- 1 egg white (room temperature)
- ¼ teaspoon of vinegar
- Pinch of salt
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 1 ½ teaspoon powdered sugar
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla
- Raspberries (garnish)
- Powdered sugar dusting (garnish)
Preheat your oven to 225℉. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
Place the egg white in a very clean, dry, medium-sized bowl. Any oil or fat residue will prevent your meringue from properly forming. Add vinegar and salt. Whisk the mixture to stiff peaks. In three additions, whisk in the powdered sugar through a sieve or sifter. The egg whites will become glossy and sticky. With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the vanilla extract and, through the same sieve, the cornstarch.
Gently spoon the fluffy mixture onto the prepared sheet tray. Make the mound tall, then lightly nudge into a round shape without losing too much height.
Bake immediately at 225℉ for 55 minutes. The pavlova might tan slightly on the points, but should not take on much color. Crack the oven and let the pavlova cool for an hour in the oven.
While the pavlova cools in the oven, whip your cream. Whisk cream and powdered sugar to soft peak consistency. Whisk or fold in vanilla extract until just incorporated.
Flip the pavlova disk upside down onto the serving plate. It should feel crispy on the outside but fluffy and soft on the inside. Pile the whipped cream and fruit on top of the meringue and dust with powdered sugar.
Solo Choco-Almond Torte
Sometimes only cake will do. This recipe is exceptionally chocolatey and satisfying. Although I list the orange zest as optional (because structurally the recipe will turn out perfectly without it), I think it’s a non-negotiable flavor combination. (An added benefit for some chocolate fans is that this torte is inadvertently gluten-free.)
- 1 ounce dark chocolate
- 1 ½ tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 large egg separated
- ⅓ cup almond flour
- 1 teaspoon orange zest (optional)
- ¼ teaspoon white vinegar
Preheat oven to 350℉. Butter a 10-ounce or 14-ounce ramekin, cut and fit a small parchment circle for the bottom.
Melt the chocolate and butter together, and stir. Mix in the almond flour. Set aside to cool for five minutes. Stir the sugar, egg yolk, and orange zest into the chocolate mixture. Set aside.
Beat the egg white with ¼ teaspoon of vinegar in a small bowl until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. The egg white should not be over-beaten, err on the side of medium peaks rather than over-whip. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture in three additions, just until the egg white streaks disappear. Pour the cake mixture into the prepared ramekin.
Bake at 350℉ for 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes before unmolding. Serve with a dusting of powdered sugar.