There’s no overestimating the power of chocolate — whether it’s a soothing remedy at the end of a long day or a festive celebration, it’s an indulgence universally acknowledged as euphorically delicious and nearly impossible to resist. And few could argue that one of its most significant roles comes around each February.

This Valentine’s Day, celebrate chocolate two ways with mini flourless orange chocolate cakes and chocolate-covered strawberries.

Chocolate +love =

A timeless pairing, chocolate and love work together beautifully to make us swoon and savor. While chocolate doesn’t need Valentine’s Day, Valentine’s Day almost certainly commands chocolate in one way or another — and I can’t think of anything that spells L-O-V-E better than a little butter, a little sugar, and lots of chocolate.

Make the whole meal great

When you know chocolate is waiting on the other side of the meal, it can be hard to focus on the main course. But if you preface your dessert with this classic, delicious steak, prepared with a red wine, shallots, and wild mushrooms, your Valentine’s meal will flow seamlessly with wonderful, complimentary flavors.

Almost effortlessly delicious, the fantastic and earthy combination of beef, wine, and mushroom flavors will compliment the chocolatey goodness waiting on the other side. And both the beef and chocolate will pair perfectly with your favorite bottle of red wine, giving you a classic and cozy romantic evening.

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Chocolate is versatile

Chocolate is undeniably a crowned prince in the world of sweets, and with good reason. It’s at once nutty, sweet, and dark, and this balance allows for versatility with inspired flavor combinations.

It’s wonderful paired with herbs like mint and lavender, spices like chili and ginger, and fruits like orange and strawberry. Today’s recipes play up chocolate’s fruity counterparts, while staying true to its indulgent character.

Mini Flourless Orange-Chocolate Cakes

Here, mini flourless chocolate cakes are enhanced with a perfectly balanced orange flavor, while classic chocolate-covered strawberries are given an added layer of zest with orange liquor. But be warned: bold flavors and rich textures make this a dessert not for the faint of heart (or appetite).

Because they lack both flour and leavening, these mini cakes have a finished texture of silky dense chocolate with a perfect touch of springy sweetness, giving it a decadence worth savoring without too much heaviness.

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Ingredients (Cakes)

Yields 4-6 mini cakes

  • ½ stick of butter
  • ½ pound semi-sweet chocolate
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon orange liquor
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Ingredients (Strawberries)

  • 1 pint (or desired amount) of strawberries, washed and dried with stems left on.
  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

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Instructions (Cakes)

  1. Preheat to 350°F on Bake. (This is a great recipe for your countertop oven.)
  2. Grease ramekins lightly and sprinkle with sugar.
  3. Over a double boiler, slowly melt chocolate. Meanwhile, heat butter and orange liquor in separate, small saucepan. Once chocolate is just melted, add butter and liquor mixture and incorporate. The mixture should be glossy and creamy.
  4. Combine eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, orange zest, and salt in a separate bowl and whip until frothy and increased in volume (about 5 minutes).
  5. In small increments, using a spatula, add the egg mixture to the chocolate mixture. Lightly fold in each increment until just incorporated before adding the next.
  6. Divide the batter between the ramekins about ¾ full (the cakes will rise slightly). Bake for 15 minutes. Leave cakes in oven for an additional 10 minutes after it automatically shuts off.
  7. Cool slightly, then gently remove and cool completely on wire rack.

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Instructions (Strawberries)

  1. Prepare a tray with a sheet of wax paper.
  2. As with the cakes, slowly melt chocolate over a double boiler. Meanwhile, heat butter and orange liquor in a separate, small saucepan. Once chocolate is just melted, add butter and liquor mixture and incorporate.
  3. Gently dip each strawberry in the chocolate mixture and twirl. Place on the prepared sheet and repeat. Once all strawberries have been dipped, place in the refrigerator for the chocolate to harden.

Take it to the next level

Serving this dessert with your own personal touch gives you a chance to get creative and will bump up the romance. That orange you zested? Peel it and try dipping those sections in chocolate, too.

Even more of a chocoholic? Drizzle chocolate (or white chocolate!) on each cake for a truly decadent finish. Even better, go ahead and try out your own ideas — if orange isn’t your favorite, try raspberry, or banana — maybe even with a splash of rum. Make it your own, and you’ll be sure to have a one-of-a-kind, unforgettable, and delectably romantic evening.