Sweet and easy

Whip up some real treats for your loved ones for Valentine’s Day.

sweet and easy (photo credit: Yasmin & Arie)
sweet and easy
(photo credit: Yasmin & Arie)
You can’t go wrong with these Valentine’s Day tarts, which are very easy to make (using readymade pastry) and include such popular ingredients as chocolate, cream, bananas and strawberries.
CHOCOLATE TRUFFLE TART Makes one 26-cm. tart
1 package frozen sweet pastry (900 gr.), defrosted according to instructions on the package 300 gr. bitter chocolate, broken into small pieces
250 ml. 38% cream 25 gr. butter 1 egg yolk Fresh fruit for garnish
Heat oven to 180º.  Spread the pastry on a clean work surface and cut to the size of the pie baking pan plus 3 to 4 cm. for the sides. Line the baking dish with the pastry, cover with parchment paper or aluminum foil and place dry beans over the paper for weight. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until pastry is golden. Remove from the oven; remove beans and foil and let cool.
To prepare filling: Place cream and chocolate in a microwave-safe dish and melt at high speed (about 2 minutes). Add butter and stir until butter is melted. Add the egg yolk and continue stirring until cream is smooth.
Pour the chocolate cream into the tart crust and refrigerate for 3 hours.
Garnish with cut strawberries or other fresh fruit.
Note: This recipe yields five individual 12-cm tarts. If you want to serve the tart warm, remove the fruit from the tart, heat in the microwave for 20 seconds and serve.ORANGE-FLAVORED CHEESECAKE
A 26-cm. deep baking dish 1 package frozen sweet crust pastry (900 gr.),defrosted 6 eggs, separated 2 cups sugar 500 gr. 5% white cheese 500 gr. 30% cream cheese 1 tsp. vanilla extract 2 Tbsp. orange zest 5 Tbsp. self-rising flour 1⁄4 cup vanilla instant pudding mix
For glazing:
1 cup (200 ml.) sour cream 2 Tbsp. sugar
After defrosting the pastry according to package instructions, line the bottom and sides of a baking dish with the pastry, and place in the freezer for 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 160º.
Whip the egg whites until a soft foam forms, and gradually add 1 cup of sugar while whipping, until the foam is stiff. Carefully transfer the foam into another bowl. In the mixer bowl, put the egg yolks, 1 cup of sugar, the cheeses, vanilla and orange zest. Mix for 5 minutes until mixture is smooth and shiny. Add flour and pudding mix and continue mixing by hand. Gently fold in the foam.
Remove the baking dish from the freezer, pour the cheese mixture into the pastry shell and bake for 20 minutes. Lower the heat to 140º and bake 40 more minutes until cake is stable and a little golden.
Remove the cake from the oven but do not turn it off.
To prepare the glaze: Whip the sour cream and sugar together by hand. Gently spread the sour cream mixture on the cake in an even layer and return it to the oven for 5 more minutes.
Let the cake cool, then place it covered in the refrigerator overnight.
This upside-down cake is a twist on the famous French apple tarte tatin. Here, the recipe calls for bananas instead of apples. Serve with sour cream.
You will need a 24-cm. skillet that can be used in the oven.
1⁄2 package (300 gr.) butter puff pastry, defrosted Pinch salt 50 gr. butter, cut into small cubes 1⁄2 cup sugar 1⁄2 cup sour cream 4 bananas, peeled and halved lengthwise
To serve: 1 cup sour cream 2 Tbsp. sugar
On a lightly floured work surface, roll the pastry until about 4 mm. thin. Cut a 27-cm. round from the pastry, place on a plate, make random holes in the pastry using a fork, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 200º.
Melt the butter and sugar in an ovenproof skillet, over medium heat. Mix by shaking the skillet rather than using a spoon. Cook until a brownish caramel is formed. Very carefully pour the cream into the skillet and stir. Remove from heat. Don’t worry if there are a few lumps, as they will melt later in the oven.
Carefully arrange the bananas, cut side down, over the toffee sauce. Place the pastry round on top. Tuck the edges of the pastry down near the sides of the skillet.
Bake in the oven until the pastry is golden brown, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes, then turn the tart onto a serving plate.
Mix together the sour cream and sugar and serve on the side.