Sweets for lovers; Desserts: Sugary creations to melt your Valentines' hearts.


An all-dessert buffet menu sends your favorite Valentines a sweet message. Make the setting gracious with fresh flowers, but keep the table decorations minimal; let the desserts be the centerpiece. Three or four selections for six to eight people should provide something delicious for everyone: A cheesecake and a pound cake from the market are quick and easy. You can offer fireworks in the form of flambeed cherries to enjoy over cake or ice cream. While you're at the market, pick up fresh fruit to serve simply, in a bowl.

Cherries Jubilee, a dish finished with brandy or other high-proof spirits that have been set aflame, is often prepared at the table as the diners look on, though first-timers may choose to ignite the sauce in the kitchen and allow the flame to die down before presenting the dish at the table.

If you prefer to serve the sauce unflamed; simply omit the 1/2 cup brandy. The dark red cherry sauce will still look and taste wonderful, spooned over angel food or pound cake from the bakery, stirred into fresh fruit, or drizzled over ice cream.

Cherries Jubilee

Serves 6

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons kirsch (cherry liqueur)

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 can (16 ounces) pitted dark sweet cherries, undrained

1/2 cup brandy

(optional, for flaming)

In small saucepan over moderate heat, warm sugar, kirsch, cornstarch and cherries with their juice until hot but not boiling. Pour cherry sauce into heat-proof bowl for serving.

To flame the cherry sauce, pour the 1/2 cup brandy into small, long-handled pan or ladle; warm over burner or candle flame. Using a long kitchen or fireplace match, carefully ignite brandy. Exercising great caution, pour flaming brandy over warm cherry sauce; allow flame to subside. Serve warm.

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