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February 10, 2014

Culinary Conversation: It’s time for some Valentine’s Day sweetness

NEW CASTLE — After only a few seconds of thought, I’ve come to a conclusion.

There’s isn’t anything in the food world much more wonderful than chocolate.

My love affair with chocolate began at a very young age. We were indeed a chocolate-loving family. My mother made lots of homemade brownies, and one uncle adored her three-layer chocolate cake with icing so thick that it must have been slathered on with a trowel. At Christmastime, the majority of cookies stacked neatly in boxes contained some element of chocolate.

Proof enough? I’m a chocoholic.

Studies have shown that a small bit of dark chocolate almost every day is good for you. I like those kinds of studies.

If you peek at the calendar, you know that Valentine’s Day is next week. Chocolate has always been associated with Cupid’s day and it provides an extra reason to start baking up something chocolaty.

Today, you have your pick in Culinary Conversation. There is a pudding cake, cookies, a pie and even chocolate scones.

I’ve saved the best for last. It’s the most wonderful, delicious, moist, no-crumbs-left, chocolate cake I have ever encountered, and it’s a very old recipe.

The pudding cake uses applesauce instead of oil and a reduced-calorie cake mix to lower the fat and calories.

And the double thumbprint cookies look perfect for Valentine’s Day because they are shaped into hearts.

I challenge you to share your very best chocolate recipes at Culinary Conversation. It doesn’t take Valentine’s Day to enjoy a special treat with chocolate as the star of the show.

Chocolate Pudding Cake

Nonstick cooking spray

  • 1 package, 2-layer-size reduced-calorie devil’s food cake mix
  • 1, 4-serving-size package instant chocolate fudge pudding mix
  • 11⁄4 cups water
  • 1, 8-ounce carton frozen egg product, thawed
  • 1⁄4 cup applesauce
  • 1⁄4 cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate pieces
  • 1⁄4 cup walnuts

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Beginning tonight, the Pittsburgh Penguins will take on the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round of the NHL playoffs. So, who ya got? And in how many games?

Penguins, in five games or fewer. Too much firepower for the Blue Jackets, especially if Evgeni Malkin is ready to go.
Penguins, in six or seven games. It’s a pretty even matchup on defense, but Pittsburgh will grind it out.
Blue Jackets, in five games or fewer. Sergei Bobrovsky in goal for the Blue Jackets spells trouble for the Pens.
Blue Jackets, in six or seven games. Bobrovsky gives Columbus the edge, but it won’t be easy.
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