Double Chocolate Valentine

We all know the most important part of Valentine’s Day, right?

And if your answer is “Competitive Box Decorating,” you’d be in total agreement with my boys.

The entire 5th and 6th grades at school were in on the competition to create the best Valentine’s box. Jeff and Brian worked together to create this lil’ number:

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“I painted all the blood,” said Jeffrey. It paid off, because he won 2nd place, and received a gift certificate to Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt as a prize, which he promptly traded for Pokemon cards. (“They were really good Pokemon cards,” he explained.)

William’s class didn’t have a competition, but he insisted on making this Pikmin box. The pikmin “has his head down inside of the hole,” according to Wim, and there are lots of little footprints painted all over the top.

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Mr. Wim was especially into Valentine’s Day this year. He went to each member of the family, asked them what their favorite color was, and then closed himself in the craft room for a while. That evening, we all found construction paper hearts in the color of our choice, nestled on our pillows.

At the end of the project, William made one more heart, featuring everyone’s favorite colors. It’s been hanging on the kitchen window ever since.

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Yes, I’ll admit that this show of holiday enthusiasm was contagious. I decided to have a repeat of the “fancy meal” we celebrated last year, courtesy once more of the delightful frozen food aisle at Trader Joe’s. (Between extracurricular activities and Jeff’s need for hands-on homework coaching, almost every dinner is brought to us by the frozen food aisle these days.  Sigh.) The kids loved having permission to use the good plates, stemmed glasses, and lit candles. Mmmm, bubbly apple cider, the best!

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But despite my enthusiasm for frozen chow, I did want to make a really good homemade cake for dessert. It was so refreshing to put a pause on everything else in my life and devote some time to baking, especially when it’s from my favorite baking book, Rose’s Heavenly Cakes. The “Double Chocolate Valentine” is a heart-shaped velvety chocolate cake that you poke holes in after baking and soak in chocolate ganache. When it’s time to eat it, you carefully place a layer of raspberries on top and spread on some melted seedless jelly for a glaze. It’s really way easier than it looks, so long as you have a heart-shaped pan.

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Mmmmm, makes me want to devote more holidays to cake baking, definitely.

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