“We make a big deal of Valentine’s Day. Any excuse for a party or celebration at my house is usually a ‘go.’ We just like to have a good time. As a family, we like to celebrate things together,” said DeLuca-Elder, a Marietta resident.
“(Love) is the best emotion you can have. Who doesn’t like to be in love and express it whether it is for your romantic partner or for your child or your friends?” said DeLuca-Elder, who is married to Scott. They have one daughter, Didi.
DeLuca-Elder, an attorney with a federal agency, relies on her great-grandmother’s Velvet Cake recipe to create her Velvet Cake Pops. Her great grandmother, Mary Lukas (“Bopci”) lived with DeLuca-Elder’s family when she was a child.
“(Bopci) took care of us while my mom and dad worked in their business. She was a fabulous cook. I used to sit with her in the kitchen a lot.” DeLuca-Elder said.
Bopci owned a boarding house in the 1920s in Brooklyn, N.Y., to support herself as a single mother.
“(Bopci) learned to cook all different type things because she had borders from all over the world,” DeLuca Elder said. She died when DeLuca-Elder was 12.
After closing the boarding house, Bopci opened a luncheonette where her Red Velvet Cake was sold. “She had the old fashioned cake stands with the glass on top,” DeLuca-Elder said.
“This (Red Velvet Cake) is a very moist cake and lasts a while. It’s just a good old fashioned, home-style, nostalgic cake,” she said.
“My great-grandmother did everything by hand. I can remember her sitting there with a bowl and beating the whole thing until it was light and fluffy and tasted just incredible,” she said.
Deluca-Elder uses the recipe for her cake pops that she often serves at birthday parties. “They are a perfect size. I very rarely have cake pops left over,” she said.
Another favorite for Valentine’s Day is Scott’s Grand Marnier Truffles that he began making to curry favor with her mother when they were courting.
“Scott found out my mother is a real chocolate fiend. He would bring homemade truffles for her to get on her good side,” DeLuca-Elder said.
Another sweet treat is DeLuca-Elder’s Chocolate Ricotta Mousse that she recreated after having it at a restaurant in Philadelphia.
“The chef wouldn’t give me the exact recipe. I started experimenting with it at home. (The recipe) is what I figured out over the last six or seven years,” she explained.
“(Chocolate Ricotta Mousse) is just a great recipe especially if you have to make something last minute and don’t have time to cook. It’s really simple,” she said.
To toast your sweetheart, try Scott’s suggestions — Kir Royale or Kiss. “Scott is a mixologist at heart. He just loves finding good recipes to pair with what we’re serving at dinner or at a party. That’s one of his biggest hobbies,” she said.
“Cooking as a family has been great for all of us. Everyone has developed their own specialties. It’s been great hobby for all three of us,” DeLuca-Elder said.
Velvet Cake Pops
A cake pop pan is needed.
Makes about 24 cake pops
¼ lb. butter – at room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs, separated
½ cup cold water
1 ½ cup flour (I use cake flour)
½ cup cornstarch
½ tsp. salt
4 tsp. baking powder
NOTE: (DeLuca-Elder uses a stand mixer but her great grandmother did all this by hand)
Cream butter and slowly add the sugar until fluffy.
Add egg yolks and cold water and mix well.
In a separate bowl mix dry ingredients
Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well.
Beat egg whites until stiff (but not dry like meringue)
Fold whites into cake mixture.
Spray a small sauce ladle with cooking oil and ladle the cake mix into the cake pop wells.
This cake bakes well at 350 degrees, and the cake pops take about 10-15- minutes to bake.
Insert popsicle sticks into the cake pops as soon as they come out of the oven and then let them cool on a rack.
You can also buy cake pop sticks at various specialty stores.
Frost pops after they are completely cool.
Lay out a sheet of wax paper and invert the pops on the wax paper after frosting them.
Alternatively, you can stick the pops in a piece of Styrofoam to keep them upright.
Any standard frosting recipe will work, but DeLuca-Elder prefers to use candy melts (Wilton makes the best but you can buy generic candy bark and use that as well.)
Dip the top of the candy-coated pops in sprinkles or other decorations to make them especially festive.
You will need 1 lb. of candy melts.
Use a double boiler heat the candy melts. While candy is hot, dip cake pops in candy melt and then immediately dip top of pop into a bowl of your favorite sprinkles or toppings – then invert on wax paper or stick into Styrofoam.
In DeLuca-Elder’s house they all love almond crunch topping as well as bits of chocolate covered espresso beans. Make those by placing about a cup of beans in a plastic bag and smashing them with a kitchen mallet.
Chocolate Ricotta Mousse
2 cups whole milk ricotta
2 Tbs. confectioners sugar
5 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
Shave 1 oz. of chocolate – reserve for topping
Melt 4 Oz. of chocolate in double boiler. In food processor blend ricotta, sugar, and melted chocolate until smooth (will take several minutes on high). Divide among 4 bowls and serve with shaved chocolate on top.
Tip: Mousse can be made ahead and refrigerated for about 2 days.
Scott’s Grand Marnier Truffles
There are two ways to make these – as filled candies in a mold or rolled candies. Scott uses a mold.
Do the following first if using candy molds:
1 lb. candy melts – any flavor or color you enjoy
Heat candy melts in double boiler.
Using a small brush (Scott uses a small sable paint brush), brush a coating of candy on sides and top of the mold. It should be thick enough to coat the mold completely.
There will be leftover candy –reserve that for the bottom of the truffles.
Place candy molds in refrigerator until they harden – about an hour.
In the meantime, make the truffles.
12 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/3 C. heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 oz. Grand Marnier liqueur (you can replace this with any flavored liqueur you like to pair with chocolate)
Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Stir in cream until smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla and liqueur.
For candy molds: let truffle mixture cool slightly but not cool enough to thicken and set.
Using a small ladle or a funnel, pour truffle into candy mold – do not fill quite to the top.
Reheat the candy melts and pour enough on each mold to cover the bottom of mold.
Return to refrigerator until set - about an hour.
For rolled truffles: cool truffle mixture in refrigerator until set – usually 1 ½ to 2 hours.
Roll truffles into balls about 1-2 inches in diameter (depending on the size you want).
Set rolled truffles on wax paper.
Truffles are traditionally coated in something else– here are some suggestions:
Dip in candy melts – use a toothpick to dip the cooled truffle balls in heated candy melts. Return to wax paper until cool.
You can also roll in other toppings such as
finely chopped nuts
Tip: Assuming you can actually save any truffles for later, they should not be stored in the refrigerator – they will dry out and get hard. Instead, store them in an airtight container.
(An old standard that never goes out of style)
.25 oz. Chambord
Garnish: whole raspberry and lemon twist
Add Chambord to flute. Top with champagne. Garnish with raspberry and lemon twist.
2 oz. Gin
.75 oz. sweet vermouth
.75 oz. Dubonnet Rouge
.25 oz. Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
Garnish: apple slice
All ingredients to shaker filled with ice. Stir and then strain into Martini glass.
Garnish with apple slice.