Some help from Cupid 

Black forest brownies

Cupid left a voice mail last night. With the annual archery tournament in just a few days, he wanted to check in. Would I be needing any extra assistance this year? A bow polishing, perhaps? A prompt response is appreciated, as his traveling schedule is jam-packed with nervous archers whose aim needs major work.

Yep, it's that time of year already -- the holiday we love to hate and hate to love. The peculiar, mercurial duality about Valentine's Day has less to do with our heartfelt emotions, though, and everything to do with the spectacle.

Suddenly, our private affairs of the heart are onstage, for everyone to see, in the CVS candy aisle and at the florist. So when the love life is in the crapper, of course we tell the world how much we hate Valentine's Day. We've got to demonstrate our vitriol for the puppy-dog-eyed punks swooning over their crème brulée because the envy is too much to bear, and this Valentine's Day, we'll be curled up in the fetal position with one hand stuck in a bag of pink-and-red M&Ms.

I'm getting married in a few weeks, a state in life that qualifies me for Valentine's Day queen, right? I wish I could say I'm excited about the holiday, but the pursuit of higher love is working me overtime, baby. However, the one thing Valentine's Day is good for, regardless of the state of your heart, is chocolate. We all can use the serotonin, particularly at this time of the year.

A few weeks after my groom and I started dating, I whipped up a batch of the cherry brownies below, to show how sweet I was on him. (He says he doesn't remember; aah, the staying power of culinary romance.) If you're partial to a gooey, fudgy brownie, this has your name written all over it. XOXO.

Black Forest Brownies

Adapted from A Passion for Desserts by Emily Luchetti

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

8 ounces (about 24) sweet red cherries (KW note: With fresh cherries out of season in February, I used a bag of unsweetened frozen bings, thawed and drained well)

1 1/4 cups sugar

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon kirsch, Chambord or almond extract

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper.

In a double boiler, melt chocolates together with the butter, until smooth and fluid. While chocolate is melting, cut cherries into dice.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg. Whisk in chocolate mixture and kirsch. Mix in flour, salt and baking powder. Gently mix in the cut cherries. Spread batter into prepared pan.

Bake until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out almost clean, but still with a little batter on it, up to 40 minutes. Let brownies cool in the pan.

When ready to serve, place a plate or cutting board on top of the pan. Invert and carefully peel off parchment paper. Cut brownies into 2-inch squares or cut into shapes, depending on your mood.

Makes about 16 2-inch brownies.

Culinary questions? Contact Kim O'Donnel at kim.odonnel@creativeloafing.com.

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