Seriously Simple: Make Valentine's Day extra sweet
1/2 cup fine sugar
3/4 cup sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon Fleur de Sel or sea salt
8 caramels, like Kraft's, cut in half
Powdered sugar (optional)
1 quart best quality vanilla ice cream (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.Butter and flour an 8-inch springform pan. Line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.
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2. In a Pyrex measuring cup or other glass bowl combine the butter and chocolate and cook until the chocolate and butter are melted, about a minute and a half. Check after 30 seconds and using a rubber spatula blend together. Remove and cool.
3. Meanwhile combine the eggs and sugar in an electric mixer on medium-high speed mix for about 3 minutes, or until the mixture lightens in color and thickens slightly. Reduce the speed to medium and add the chocolate-butter mixture. Then add the flour and salt and carefully incorporate until blended. Transfer the mixture into the prepared springform pan. Use a rubber spatula to even out the top.
4. Push the caramel pieces into the batter carefully so they are equally placed. Use the spatula to smooth the top. Bake for 22 to 28 minutes or until a wooden skewer comes out clean from the center. Cool the cake on a cooking wire rack for at least 20 minutes. Run knife around the inside edge to avoid sticking. Once cool release the sides.
5. To serve: Using a sharp knife, remove the bottom springform from the cake and discard the parchment paper. Transfer onto a serving platter, decorate with powdered sugar, slice into wedges and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if desired.
Advance preparation: This can be made through Step 4, cooled completely and covered with plastic wrap and then foil and refrigerated up to two days ahead. It can also be frozen and defrosted. To reheat, remove foil and plastic wrap and bring cake to room temperature. Reheat in a 350 F oven for 10 minutes.
(Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including "Seriously Simple Parties," and a James Beard Award-winning radio show host. You can contact her at www.seriouslysimple.com.)