Diana's Desserts Newsletter

Edition Number #4

Sunday, February 2, 2003

Welcome to Diana's Desserts Newsletter,


Greetings Home Bakers and Friends

I hope all of you had a relaxing January, and took a well deserved break from
all that great holiday cooking and baking.

I can't believe that January has come and gone and here we are already in
festive and romantic February.

It's time to celebrate the wonderful Chinese New Year, which began on February
1st (2003 The Year Of The Ram or Sheep) and continues for 15 days concluding
with the Lantern Festival.

Also it's time to celebrate the very romantic Valentine's Day, which falls each
year on February 14th.

In this edition of Diana's Desserts Newsletter, the focus will be on desserts to
serve for the very colorful and happy Chinese New Year, and on desserts for
Valentine's Day. Also included in this newsletter will be some intersting facts
on both of these holidays.

This month I have chosen to include two wonderful Guest Submitted Recipes, one
for Chinese New Year, and one for Valentine's Day. Both recipes will be Recipes
of the Week on Diana's Desserts website during the month of February.

February's Guest Submitted Recipe For Chinese New Year


Dragon Cookies

Recipe Submitted by: Choo Teck Poh

Servings: Makes about 4 dozen cookies

"These are always the first Chinese New Year cookies to be finished.
Easy to make and a hit with both kids and adults"...........Choo Teck Poh

2/3 cup unsalted butter
1 cup icing (confectioners') sugar
2 1/2
cups cornflour
1 heaping tbsp. tapioca flour
2 tbsp. milk powder
2 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Red food colouring

Line cookie sheets with non-stick parchment paper, and pre-heat
oven to 160 degrees C (320 F).

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat egg yolks together with
vanilla extract and add to butter mixture.

Sift together cornflour, tapioca flour and milk powder. Add to the above and mix
into a soft smooth dough.

Put mixture into cookie press fitted with 1 cm (1/2 inch) star tube. Pipe
cookies into 5 cm (2 inches) long wiggly shapes. Using toothpicks, make 2 dots
with red food colouring at one end to resemble "eyes".

Bake in 160 degree C (320 F) oven for 20-25 minutes or until pale golden.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Thank you Teck Poh for sharing your recipe for Dragon Cookies for Chinese New
Year. Have a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year......Diana

This recipe for Dragon Cookies by Choo Teck Poh will be the Recipe of the Week
on Diana's Desserts website the week of February 2nd though the 8th.

Click here to see recipe and photo for Dragon Cookies on Diana's Desserts

February's Guest Submitted Recipe For Valentine's Day


Very Red Raspberry Cheesecake

Recipe Submitted by: Christine Thomas

Servings: 10-12

"I make this pretty Very Red Raspberry Cheesecake almost every
Valentine's Day for my husband and family. Try making it for your family or
friends. I know they will love it, and ask you to make it again every
Valentine's Day."............Christine Thomas

For the Crust:
2 cups crushed vanilla wafers
3 tbsp. chopped and
toasted almonds
4 tbsp. margarine or butter, melted

For the Filling:
(3) 8 oz. packages cream cheese
2/3 cup granulated sugar
tbsp. cornstarch
3 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup amaretto
(or any liqueur of your choice)
2 tsp. almond extract (vanilla, if not using

For the Sauce:
(2) 12 oz. packages frozen raspberries, thawed
5 tbsp. amaretto
1/3 cup granulated sugar

For the Crust:
In a small bowl, stir together crushed cookies and
chopped almonds. Add butter and stir to combine. Press mixture into the bottom
of a greased 9 inch springform pan.

For the Filling:
In a large bowl combine cream cheese, sugar and cornstarch.
Beat until smooth with an electric mixer. Add the whole eggs, one at a time,
beating well each time. Add the one yolk and beat again. Stir in the whipping
cream, amaretto and almond extract. Mix well. Pour mixture into the crust. Bake
at 400 degrees F. for 10 minutes; lower temperature to 200 degrees F. and bake
for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the center no longer looks shiny. Remove the
cheesecake from the oven and run a knife around the inside edge of the pan. Turn
the oven off; return the cake to the oven for an additional 30 minutes. Remove
from oven and chill for 3 hours or more.

For the Sauce:
Puree thawed berries in blender, food mill or food processor and
strain through a fine sieve over a wide bowl to remove all seeds.

Heat puree with sugar until well mixed. Remove from heat and add liqueur
(optional). To serve cheesecake, pour 1/4 cup of sauce on each plate. Place
serving of cheesecake on sauce, or place serving of cheesecake on plate, and
pour 1/4 cup of sauce over top of each slice.

Garnishing Ideas for Top of Cheesecake:
Use toasted almonds, fresh or frozen
raspberries, or white rose petals. Place decoratively on top of cheesecake.

Makes 10-12 servings

Thank you Christine for submitting this lovely Red Raspberry Cheesecake recipe
for Valentine's Day. Have a very Happy Valentine's Day......Diana

This Very Red Raspberry Cheesecake will be the Recipe of the Week on Diana's
Desserts website, the week of February 9th through February 15th.

Click here to see recipe and photo of Very Red Raspberry Cheesecake on Diana's
Desserts Website.

Chinese New Year and Valentine's Day Dessert Recipes


Chinese Almond Cookies

Servings: Makes approximately 4 1/2 dozen cookies

Serve these traditional Chinese cookies with hot tea.

2 3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, margarine, or lard,
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 cup whole
almonds, blanched

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F.

Sift flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl. Cut in softened
buter until mixture resembles cornmeal. Add beaten egg, and almond extract, mix

Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookies
sheets. Place an almond on top of each cookie and press down to flaten slightly.
Bake in slow oven (325 F) for 15-18 minutes. Cool on rack.

Makes approximately 4 1/2 dozen cookies.

Click here to see recipe and photo of Chinese Almond Cookies on Diana's Desserts

Mandarin Orange Pie for Chinese New Year


Servings: 6-8

For Chinese New Year, here is an American inspired dessert that will
definitely please the palette for this festive holiday, using mandarin oranges,
a very traditional fruit that is eaten during Chinese New Year.

1 1/4 cups graham wafer crumbs, or
use a store-bought frozen pie
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
1 envelope (3 tablespoons
powdered, or 4 gelatin leaves or sheets) unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons cold
1 cup boiling water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 cups whipping
1 can (10 oz.) mandarin oranges, drained

Mix graham wafer crumbs, sugar and melted butter together. Spread
in the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate. Refrigerate. (Or as an
alternative to the graham cracker crust, use a store-bought frozen pie crust,
bake as instructed on package, and let cool completely. Refrigerate until ready
to fill.)

Mix gelatine with cold water. Stir in boiling water. Add sugar and stir to
dissolve. Stir in lemon juice. Refrigerate until it starts to thicken.

Whip cream until thick. Fold half of the whipped cream into the gelatine
mixture, until blended. Fold in the mandarin oranges. Spoon mixture into the
chilled crust. Top with the remaining whipped cream. Refrigerate for at least
3-4 hours.

Makes 6-8 servings.

Click here to see recipe and photo of Mandarin Orange Pie on Diana's Desserts

Chocolate Bundt Cake with Cherry Whipped Cream

Servings: 12

Here is a delicious dessert for "chocolate lovers" on Valentine's Day,
or for anyone who likes chocolate and the combination of sweet maraschino
cherries folded into whipped cream. Very sinful!

2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
large eggs
1 1/4 teaspoons almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups
all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Dutch Processed Cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cups sour cream
Confectioners' sugar
Cherry Whipped Cream (see recipe below)

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 12-cup bundt or
tube pan.

Beat butter and sugar in bowl until creamy. Add eggs, almond and vanilla
extracts; beat well. Combine flour, cocoa and baking soda; add to butter mixture
alternately with sour cream, beating well. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until wooden pick inserted comes out clean. Cool 15
minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Sift with confectioners'
sugar. Serve each slice of cake garnished with a dollap of Cherry Whipped Cream
and a maraschino cherry.

Makes: 12 servings.

Cherry Whipped Cream:
Beat 1 cup whipping cream, 3 tablespoons powdered sugar,
1/2 teaspoon almond extract and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract until stiff. Stir
in 1/2 cup chopped maraschino cherries.

Click here to see recipe and photo of Chocolate Bundt Cake with Cherry Whipped
Cream on Diana's Desserts website.

Decadent Chocolate Mousse

Servings: 8

A rich and very dark chocolate mousse that is creamy and so very

1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1/3 cup boiling
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup Dutch Processed cocoa
2 cups (1 pt.) cold
whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For Garnish: (optional)
Dark Chocolate Shavings
Whipped Cream

1. Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in small bowl; let stand 2
minutes to soften. Add boiling water; stir until gelatin is completely dissolved
and mixture is clear. Cool slightly.

2. Combine sugar and cocoa in large bowl; add whipping cream and vanilla. Beat
on medium speed of mixer, scraping bottom of bowl occasionally, until mixture is
stiff. Pour in gelatin mixture; beat until well blended. Spoon into dessert

3. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Garnish with whipped cream or sprinkle with
chocolate shavings (optional). Store covered in refrigerator.

Makes 8 servings.

Click here to see recipe and photo of Decadent Chocolate Mousse on Diana's
Desserts website.

Diabetic Dessert for Valentine's Day


Valentine's Day Shortcakes

Servings: Makes 10 servings

Like classic shortcakes, but better. These sweet biscuits are split in
half, filled with low-calorie sweetened berries, and topped with sour
cream-flavored whipped topping. This dessert is also great for people who just
want to watch their calorie and fat intake, not only for people with diabetes.

3 cups fresh berries (sliced strawberries, blueberries,
raspberries, and/or blackberries)
2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/2 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup refrigerated or frozen egg product, thawed or 1 egg
Nonstick cooking
1/2 of an 8-ounce container frozen fat-free whipped dessert topping,
1/4 cup fat-free dairy sour cream

For Garnish: (optional)
Confectioners' sugar

1. In a small bowl combine the berries and the crystallized
ginger. Set aside.

2. Meanwhile, prepare shortcakes. For shortcakes, in a medium bowl stir together
flour, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda. Using a pastry blender, cut in
butter or margarine until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Combine
buttermilk and egg product or egg. Add to the flour mixture all at once,
stirring just until mixture is moistened. Lightly coat a baking sheet with
cooking spray; set aside. On a lightly floured surface pat the dough to 1/2-inch
thickness. Cut the dough with a floured 2 1/2-inch star-shaped or Heart-Shaped
cookie cutter or a round biscuit cutter, re-rolling scraps as necessary. Place
shortcakes on prepared baking sheet. Bake in a 425 degree F oven for 8 to 10
minutes or until golden. Cool the shortcakes slightly on a wire rack.

3. To serve, in a small bowl combine the whipped topping and sour cream. Split
shortcakes in half. Place bottoms on dessert plates. Divide the berry mixture
among bottoms. Top each with some of the whipped topping mixture. Replace the
shortcake tops. Sprinkle tops with confectioners' sugar (optional).

Makes 10 servings.

Nutritional Information
(Nutritional facts per 1 serving)
calories: 166 , total
fat: 4g , saturated fat: 2g , cholesterol: 10mg , sodium: 176mg , carbohydrate:
28g , fiber: 2g , protein: 4g , vitamin C: 23% , calcium: 9% , iron: 11% ,

Diabetic Exchanges: (1 serving)
Starch: 1 diabetic exchange
Fruit: 1 diabetic
Fat: 1/2 diabetic exchange

Click here to see recipe and photo of Valentines Day Shortcakes on Diana's
Desserts website.

The History of Valentine's Day


Every February, across the country, candy, flowers, and gifts are exchanged
between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. But who is this mysterious
saint and why do we celebrate this holiday?

The History of Valentine's Day and its patron saint is shrouded in mystery. But
we do know that February has long been a month of romance. St. Valentine's Day,
as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman

So, who was Saint Valentine and how did he become associated with this ancient
rite? Today, the Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints
named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends
that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When
Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with
wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men, his crop of potential
soldiers. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and
continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine's
actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. Other stories
suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians
escape harsh Roman prisons where they were often beaten and tortured.

According to one legend, Valentine actually sent the first "valentine" greeting
himself. While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a
young girl, (who may have been his jailor's daughter, and who visited him during
his confinement). Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter,
which he signed "From your Valentine," an expression that is still in use today.
Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories certainly
emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic, and, most importantly, romantic
figure. It's no surprise that by the Middle Ages, Valentine was one of the most
popular saints in England and France.

Valentine's Day In China


They may not celebrate with chocolate and flowers, but the Chinese have a day
devoted to love.

Valentine's Day, the annual tribute to romantic love, is fast approaching.
Florists, card shops, and chocolate vendors are all doing a raging business as
lovers rush to purchase tokens of their affection.

Although it is not as popular, the Chinese also have a day devoted to love. Qi
Qiao Jie, or the seventh eve, is also called Chinese Valentine's Day. While not
as lavish, the festival does have its own charming customs.

A bit of History - Qi Qiao Jie

Given its ancient origins, it is not surprising that there is more than one
legend associated with this romantic festival. Both involve the position of the
stars on the seventh day of the seventh month in the Chinese lunar calendar.

According to the first version, the seven daughters of the Goddess of Heaven
caught the eye of a Cowherd during one of their visits to earth. The daughters
were bathing in a river and the Cowherd, Niu Lang, decided to have a bit of fun
by running off with their clothing. It fell upon the prettiest daughter (who
happened to be the seventh born), to ask him to return their clothes.

Of course, since Niu Lang had seen the daughter, Zhi Nu, naked, they had to be
married. The couple lived happily for several years, until either the cowherd
died or the Goddess of Heaven simply became fed up with her daughter's absence
and ordered her return to heaven. In any event, the mother finally took pity on
the couple and allowed them to be reunited once a year. Legend has it that on
the seventh night of the seventh moon, magpies form a bridge with their wings
for Zhi Nu to cross to meet her husband.

In the second story, Niu Lang and Zhi Nu were fairies living on opposite sides
of the Milky Way.

Feeling sorry for the two lonely sprites, the Jade Emperor of Heaven actively
tried to bring them together. Unfortunately, he succeeded too well, Niu Lang and
Zhi Nu became so enraptured with each other that they neglected their work.
Annoyed, the Jade Emperor decreed that from that point on, the couple could only
meet once a year, on the seventh night of the seventh moon.

Today, star gazers celebrate Qi Qiao Jie by gazing up at the star Vega, east of
the Milky Way which represents Zhi Nu, and at the constellation Aquila, on the
west side of the Milky Way, where Niu Lang waits for his lover to join him.

"Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other but in
looking outward together in the same direction." (Antoine de Saint-Exupery).

How Do the Chinese celebrate Qi Qiao Jie?

Unfortunately, festivities surrounding Chinese Valentine's day have fallen off
in recent years. In the past, Seven Sisters Associations would put up colorful
"shrines" made of paper, fresh fruit, and flowers as a tribute to Niu Lang and
Zhi Nu. Today, younger Chinese are often unfamiliar with the holiday, and more
likely to celebrate Valentine's day on February 14th. Still, in some cities
efforts are being made to bring back many of the traditional festivals,
including Qi Qiao Jie, in order to attract tourists.

History of Chinese New Year


Chinese New Year 2003, February 1st to the 15th-The Year Of The Ram (or Sheep).

History of Chinese New Year

The Chinese New Year has a great history. In other traditions, by this time in
the year, most resolutions made on December 31, have been subtly forgotten and
placed in a cupboard marked "maybe next year." However, all hope is not lost, as
there's a second chance to start afresh with the celebration of Chinese New Year
on February 1st.

The Chinese New Year is very similar to the western New Years, swathed in
traditions and rituals.

The origin of the Chinese New Year is itself centuries old. In fact, too old to
actually be traced. It is popularly recognised as the Spring Festival and the
celebrating lasts for 15 days.

Preparations tend to begin a month from the date of the Chinese New Year
(similar to a Western Christmas), when people start buying presents, decoration
materials, food and clothing. A huge clean-up gets underway days before the New
Year, when Chinese houses are cleaned from top to bottom, to sweep away any
traces of bad luck, and doors and windowpanes are given a new coat of paint,
usually red. The doors and windows are then decorated with paper cuts and
couplets with themes such as happiness, wealth and longevity printed on them.

The eve of the New Year is perhaps the most exciting part of the event, as
anticipation creeps in. Here, traditions and rituals are very carefully observed
in everything from food to clothing. Dinner is usually a feast of seafood and
dumplings, signifying different good wishes. Delicacies include prawns, for
liveliness and happiness, dried oysters (or ho xi), for all things good, raw
fish salad or yu sheng to bring good luck and prosperity, Fai-hai (Angel Hair),
an edible hair-like seaweed to bring prosperity, and dumplings boiled in water
(Jiaozi) signifying a long-lost good wish for a family. It's usual to wear
something red as this color is meant to ward off evil spirits, but black and
white are out, as these are associated with mourning. After dinner, the family
sit up for the night playing cards, board games or watching TV programs
dedicated to the occasion. At midnight, the sky is lit up by fireworks.

On the day itself, an ancient custom called Hong Bao, meaning Red Packet, takes
place. This involves married couples giving children and unmarried adults money
in red envelopes. Then the family begins to say greetings from door to door,
first to their relatives and then their neighbors. Like the Western saying "let
bygones be bygones," at Chinese New Year, grudges are very easily cast aside.

The end of the New Year is marked by the Festival of Lanterns, which is a
celebration with singing, dancing and lantern shows.

Although celebrations of the Chinese New Year vary, the underlying message is
one of peace and happiness for family members and friends.

Your Feedback and Guest Submitted Recipes


Any feedback on Diana's Desserts Website or Newsletter is always greatly
appreciated, whether the feedback is "negative or possitive". Please don't be
shy about emailing me and letting me know your feelings.

Also, don't forget to submit your recipes for the March Newsletter. I will need
you to submit them no later than February 20th, so I have time to go over them,
and have time to choose one to include in the March newsletter. I usually start
drafting my newsletter during the last week of the month. I do appreciate your
recipes, and am always looking forward to them. Thank You.

Click here to Submit a Recipe to Diana's Desserts Website.

Until Next Month

I hope you've enjoyed the recipes and articles on Chinese New Year and
Valentine's Day. If you make any of the desserts, please let me know, as I am
always curious about how Guest's to Diana's Desserts Website and Reader's of the
Newsletter liked the recipes and also how they turned out.

March's Newsletter will focus on desserts and beverages for St. Patrick's Day
(March 17th), and also on some "early spring" treats.

To all of you that celebrate Chinese New Year: "Gung Hey Fat Choy", Prosper, Be
Healthy, Happy and Much Good Luck!!

And to all of you that celebrate Valentines Day, Have a Happy and Very Loving

Sincerely, Diana

Diana's Desserts
A Website Dedicated to Home Bakers

Web site: http://www.dianasdesserts.com
E-mail: diana@dianasdesserts.com