I think a Valentine’s Day celebration with a lover definitely starts in the morning. The question is this – should these luscious chocolate pancakes be served before or after?

No matter when you decide to serve the pancakes, be sure to complement the rich chocolate tones with red raspberries, a dusting of powdered sugar and candy. Whatever pleases the eye is sure to please the palate and the heart. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Prep time: 15 to 20 minutes
Cook time: 5 to 8 minutes
Makes: Six 5-inch pancakes

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk (whole, 2% or 1% milk fat – nonfat milk will result in a thin batter)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
One 4-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter
Five-Minute Raspberry Coulis (found in our Recipes, under “Desserts, Creams & Sauces)
Powdered sugar, for dusting
2 to 6 Valentine chocolates, for garnish (optional)

1. In a 2-cup mixing bowl combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; set aside.

2. In a 3 or 4-cup mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, sugar, oil and milk to combine. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients, mixing until batter it is smooth.

3. Place a 12-inch nonstick skillet on stove burner set on medium heat. Lightly butter the skillet and pour a scant 1/4 cup batter three times onto the skillet to form three pancakes set 1 inch apart from each other.

4. Cook pancakes on medium heat, 2 to 4 minutes per side. To avoid blackening, check underside of one pancake after 1 minute with a nonstick spatula.

5. Carefully flip the pancakes and cook other side 2 to 3 minutes.

6. Transfer the pancakes to a covered container to keep warm; set aside.

7. Pour remaining batter in skillet to form three more pancakes. Repeat cooking instructions.

8. Lay the six pancakes, side by side, on a flat surface.

9. Using a heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out 6 hearts (remaining pancake shreds can be enjoyed later as a snack).

10. Divide the heart-shaped pancakes evenly among two dinner plates (set three pancakes per plate in a horizontal row).

11. Garnish pancakes with the raspberry coulis and dust with powdered sugar. Set a chocolate over center pancake in each plate. Decorate with remaining chocolates.

These chocolate pancakes can be served with maple syrup, if desired.

Text and Photographs ©2011 Nancy DeLucia Real