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Love it or hate it, it’s that “special” time of year. A time where long ago someone decided we should jack up the price of flowers, cards, and candy to prove we love our special someone so much that we areVDay2011 willing to toss aside logic and good financial judgment and shower them with red themed gifts or dinner at an overcrowded restaurant. No, I’m not the Valentine’s Grinch, I actually have lots of great Valentines memories over the last 10+ years with my special someone.

We usually don’t go out for V-day. Depending on the day of the week and schedules we try to make a special meal at home (not always on the actual day). I remember several years ago when I decided to surprise Steve and make Chocolate dipped strawberries. I mixed up the Chocolate, injected the berries with Grand Mariner, and went to town… the recipe said it made enough for about 2 dozen berries… after about 50 or 60 I dumped the rest of the chocolate and started making visits to any friends that were home to unload the extras.

One year, as a friend was going through a divorce, I invited her to join our special dinner. I set a gorgeously elaborate, formal table and warned her she could only join us if she agreed to adhere to our strict dress requirements… pajamas!

In the spirit of the upcoming day I thought it would be a time to try a new cake recipe I found on Pinterest, break out a Bundt pan, and whip up a chocolate treat for my special someone! Here we go…

Step 1: Preparation – Proper preparation requires more than just checking for necessary ingredients and proper cookware, it also includes ensuring proper supporting elements… I recommend a double Amaretto latte! Try adding amaretto to your milk prior to steaming as well as to the beverage itself. It makes a great alternative to amaretto flavored syrup typically used in coffee shops.

This is also a good time to identify any ingredient substitutions. Today I used non-fat Greek yogurt in place of sour cream, fresh brewed espresso in place of instant, honey in place of light corn syrup, almond milk in place of regular milk (in the latte), and (as mentioned) amaretto in place of amaretto flavored syrup.

Step 2: Cake – Prepare the Chocolate Espresso Bundt Cake per recipe. Take note the recipe calls for a LARGE saucepan. I started off melting the butter in a smaller pan before I read through the rest of the steps… guess I failed Step 1 😉

Step 3: Dishes and Clean Up – It’s important to do step 3 before step 4. Your cake should be in the oven for 45 minutes or so and it’s a perfect time to get the step 2 mess under control. It’s also a good time to do a little prep for step 5, if your an overachiever. Chop the chocolate, cut the butter, etc. Failing to complete step 3 now can put step lead to it’s unsuccessful completion later… especially is you repeat step 4 more than once

Step 4: Wine – You’ve worked hard, there were eggs to crack, things to measure, and lot’s of whisking. You’ve got a little while while the baking occurs and this is the perfect time to pour a glass of wine and relax… you can’t go anywhere until the cake is done anyway. (Note: step 4 can be repeated, especially after step 5)

Step 5: Glaze – One of the things that drew me to this recipe was the Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Glaze. I love cinnamon and chocolate and still have 2 bags of Limited Edition Cinnamon M&Ms stashed form Christmas. This is a simple glaze. As mentioned above, I used honey in place of the light corn syrup and once melted and mixed, I transferred the glaze to a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup so it wold be easier to pour and to try to get a better distribution over the shape details.