Nothing says I love you like rich chocolate cookies

Tu Be'av is a romantic occasion that dates back to Temple times and it's a great excuse to do something special for those we love.

Chocolates  (photo credit: Courtesy)
Chocolates
(photo credit: Courtesy)
According to the Gemara, Tu Be'av was a joyous holiday in the days of the Temple, marking the beginning of the grape harvest. The unmarried girls of Jerusalem would dress in white garments and go out to dance in the vineyards. That same section in the Talmud states that there were no holy days as happy for the Jews as Tu Be'av and Yom Kippur. After the pain of Tisha Be’av, Tu Be’av seems particularly joyful and some have turned it into a romantic occasion. Whatever the excuse, it’s always nice to do something special for those we love. Try some of these recipes to put a smile on their faces.
Cinnamon BunsCinnamon Buns
Dough:
2-1/2 teaspoons yeast
¾ warm water
1-1/2 cups non-dairy creamer or soy milk, heated in microwave to lukewarm
6 cups bread flour
2 tablespoons salt
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons margarine, softened
Filling:
1 cup (2 sticks) margarine, softened
1-1/2 cups brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Frosting:
½ cup (1 stick) margarine, softened
1-1/2 cups (12 ounces) tofutti cream cheese
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
Dissolve yeast in water and creamer. Stir in flour, salt and sugar mix well. 
Knead in butter until dough is smooth and elastic. Cover and let rise for 45 minutes to an hour. Punch dough down and roll into long rectangle.
Spread with margarine and think sprinkle with the brown sugar and cinnamon. Roll up like jelly roll, lengthwise. Cut into 14 pieces and place in greased 9 x 13-inch pan. 
Cover with damp towel and let rise for an additional 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 190 degrees. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes. 
While baking, prepare frosting by beating together all the frosting ingredients until smooth.  Spread over warm buns.  Save one for me!
Really Rich Chocolate Cookies
Chocolate and romance go together like…
½ cup (1 stick) margarine
1-1/2 cups semisweet chocolate, chopped
½ cup unsweetened chocolate chopped
½ cup flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs
1-1/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ cup flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1-1/2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts
Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
In a microwave melt together margarine and chocolate. Stir until smooth and cool slightly. Beat together the eggs, sugar and vanilla until thickened. 
On low to medium speed, beat in melted chocolate. On low speed, add flour and baking powder and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts. 
Drop by 2-tablespoonfuls onto greased or silpat-lined cookie sheets. Baking for about 18 minutes. Cool for a few minutes on cookie sheets; remove to wire racks to finish cooling.
French Bread with Kalamata OlivesFrench Bread with Kalamata Olives
A little bread, a little wine, a little cheese…maybe some avocado and those chocolate cookies!
1 cup nondairy creamer or soy milk
2 tablespoons margarine
2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup warm water
2 teaspoons yeast
¾ cup chopped pitted Kalamata olives (or any other black olives)
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
4 cups flour
In a microwave, melt margarine with creamer or soy milk. Stir in sugar and cool to lukewarm. 
Add yeast and allow to proof – 5 to 10 minutes.  Stir in olives and salt. 
Begin to stir in flour, one cup at a time until all is incorporated and dough is smooth and elastic. If dough is sticky, add more flour. 
Spray large bowl with olive oil spray and turn dough to coat. Cover and let rise until doubled – 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 125 degrees. Divide dough into two pieces and form into baguettes.  Spray baking sheets or baguette pans with olive oil spray and place dough on pans.  Cover and let rise for about ½ hour. 
Spray inside of oven with water (5 to 10 squirts) and place pan inside.  Bake for 10 minutes; reduce temperature to 100 degrees and continue to bake until golden – about 35 minutes.  Spray 1 or 2 squirts of water every 10 minutes. Cool on rack.
More great recipes can be found at www.gourmetkoshercooking.com