Does all the chocolate talk this month inspire you to make your own delectable dessert? Try  these  recipes from three chef/personalities and surprise your favorite Valentine. All ingredients are available in Benicia.  



Chocolate Cupcakes and Peanut Butter Icing

2006, Barefoot Contessa at Home, All Rights Reserved

Prep Time: 15 min   Inactive Prep Time:   10 min   Cook Time:   25 min   Level:   Easy   Serves:14 to 15 cupcakes


* 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
* 2/3 cup granulated sugar
* 2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
* 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
* 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
* 1 cup buttermilk, shaken, at room temperature
* 1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
* 2 tablespoons brewed coffee
* 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 cup good cocoa powder
* 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
* Kathleen’s Peanut Butter Icing, recipe follows
* Chopped salted peanuts, to decorate, optional


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and 2 sugars on high speed until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. Lower the speed to medium, add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla and mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, and coffee. In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. On low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and the flour mixture alternately in thirds to the mixer bowl, beginning with the buttermilk mixture and ending with the flour mixture. Mix only until blended. Fold the batter with a rubber spatula to be sure it’s completely blended.

Divide the batter among the cupcake pans (1 rounded standard ice cream scoop per cup is the right amount). Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, remove from the pans, and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Frost each cupcake with Peanut Butter Icing and sprinkle with chopped peanuts, if desired.

Kathleen’s Peanut Butter Icing:

* 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
* 1 cup creamy peanut butter
* 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
* 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1/3 cup heavy cream

Place the confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as you work. Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.

Ann Burrell: Super Thick Hot Chocolate

Prep Time: 5 min   Cook Time: 10 min   Level: Easy   Serves: 4 servings


3 cups milk
1 cup evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Pinch ground cinnamon


In a saucepan, combine the milk, evaporated milk and vanilla and warm up over a low heat. Combine the cocoa powder, sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon in a small bowl. Whisk into the warm milk mixture, stirring frequently to prevent it from scorching. Remove the hot chocolate from the heat just after it has come to a boil. The mixture should be suuuuuper rich and thick!

Cook’s Note: For grown-up kids, a shot of brandy, Kahlua, or peppermint schnapps is really yummy! 

Rachel Ray: Chocolate Dipped Bananas

Prep Time: 5 min   Inactive Prep Time: 10 min   Cook Time: 5 min   Level: Easy   Serves: 10 chocolate dipped bananas


5 bananas
8 popsicle sticks
3 cups good quality chocolate bar
3 tablespoons butter, cut up


Chopped nuts
Toasted coconut
Cookie crumbles
Colored sprinkles or chocolate jimmies
Mini chocolate candies or mini semi sweet chips, for chocoholics


Peel and cut the bananas in half crosswise, so that you have 8 pieces. Place peeled bananas on sticks. Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper. Place bananas on the cookie sheet in the freezer, keep them in there as long as possible, at least 10 minutes. Heat chocolate bits with butter in a double boiler over low heat until the chocolate melts and butter is incorporated. Dip the chilled bananas in chocolate and roll with your favorite topping. Chill or freeze until ready to serve.

Chocolate Bananas and Chocolate Cupcake photos by Food Network,