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Chocolate treats for you, your sweetheart on Valentine's Day

February always seems to bring chocolate treats to mind, but most people are always ready for chocolate regardless of the month. Here are a variety of chocolate treats from which to choose and should be something for everyone. Happy Valentine's Day!

HOMEMADE PEANUT BUTTER CUPS

1 cup creamy peanut butter, divided

4 1/2 tsp. butter, softened

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

2 cups (12 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips

4 milk chocolate candy bars (1.55 oz. each) coarsely chopped

colored sprinkles, opt.

In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup peanut butter, butter, confectioners' sugar and salt until smooth. Set

aside. In a small microwave safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips, candy bars and remaining peanut butter; stir until smooth. Drop teaspoonfuls of chocolate mixture into paper-lined miniature muffin cups. Top each with a scant teaspoonful of peanut butter mixture; top with another teaspoonful of chocolate mixture. Decorate with sprinklers if desired. Refrigerate until set. Store in airtight container. Makes 3 dozen.

SOUR CREAM SUGAR COOKIES

(The sour cream makes them extra moist)

1 cup shortening

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 cup (8 oz.) sour cream

4 cup all purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

FROSTING:

1 cup butter, softened

9 cups confectioners' sugar (about 2 1/2 boxes)

3 tsp. vanilla extract

2/3 to 3/4 cup milk

Paste food coloring

In large mixing bowl cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, sour cream and vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Cover

and refrigerate for 1 hour or until easy to handle. On lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut with a floured 3-inch heart-shaped

cookie cutter. Place 1 inch apart on baking sheets lightly coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes or until set. Cool 1 minute before removing to wire racks for complete cooling. For frosting, in large mixing bowl, cream butter until light and fluffy. Beat in confectioners sugar and vanilla. Add enough milk to achieve desired consistency. Tint with food coloring. Decorate as desired.

Makes 4 1/2 dozen cookies. Note: If they don't get eaten they will stay soft for one week!

TIRAMISU BROWNIES

All the traditional flavor without the fuss.

12 squares (1 oz. each) semisweet chocolate

1 cup butter, softened

1 1/3 cups plus 1/4 cup sugar, divided

8 eggs

1 cup cake flour (remember make it yourself by removing 2 tbsp. from 1 cup all-purpose flour)

1/4 cup instant coffee granules or espresso powder

2 cartons (8 oz. each) Mascarpone cheese

2 tsp. vanilla extract

I tsp. baking cocoa

In large microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate. Stir until smooth; cool slightly. Beat in butter. Gradually beat in 1 1/3 cup sugar. Add six eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine flour and coffee granules; add to chocolate mixture. Beat on low speed just until combined; set aside. For filling, in small bowl, beat cheese, vanilla and remaining sugar and eggs until smooth. Pour 4 cups chocolate batter into a greased 13 x 9 x 2 in. baking pan. Spread with filling. Top with remaining batter, spreading evenly to completely cover filling. Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes or until center is almost set and brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool on a wire rack. Dust with cocoa. Cut into squares. Store in refrigerator. Makes 3 dozen.

CHOCOLATE CHERRY PIE

3/4 cup dried cherries

2 cup boiling water

3 1/2 cup chocolate ice cream, softened

3/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

1 chocolate crumb crust (9 inch)

Hot fudge ice cream topping and maraschino cherries, opt. Place dried cherries in small bowl; cover with boiling water. Let stand 5 minutes. Drain. In large bowl, combine ice cream, chocolate chips and cherries. Spread into crust. Cover and freeze until firm. Slice; drizzle each piece with fudge topping and garnish with a maraschino cherry if desired. 8 servings.

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