THEY say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. To keep up with the times, I think we need to reflect on the way to a woman’s heart as well.

Bunches of red roses, diamond trinkets and dinner for two in a fancy restaurant for Valentine’s Day is seen as a compulsory ritual. In my experience it is often a high- risk strategy.

The roses may droop sooner then expected, the diamonds may not be quite bling enough and sitting in a hushed restaurant with other couples can lead to comparisons that do not always reflect so positively on the partner sitting opposite you.

I confess here. In my experience, a glass of welcome champagne on an empty stomach can lead me sometimes to a tipsy state that, without the right amount of carbohydrates, has led to a less than happy evening out.

So, avoid a lot of pain and expense and stay at home and try this instead.


15g dark unsweetened cacao powder

4 tablespoons espresso coffee

2 tablespoons whisky

85g unsalted butter

2 large free-range eggs

85g plain flour

225g caster sugar

½ teaspoon baking powder

Pinch of salt

2 tablespoons chopped walnuts

Pre-heat oven 180C/Gas 4

Non-stick baking tin approx 30cm/15 cm, greased and lined with greaseproof paper

Dissolve the cacao powder in the hot espresso coffee.

Mix in the whisky.

Whisk eggs and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the cocoa mixture and whisk.

Sieve in the flour, baking powder and salt and fold everything into a batter.

Finally fold in the chopped walnuts.

Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until set but still a little squidgy in the middle.

Remove and allow to cool in the tin.

The brownie will form a crust and the middle will still be soft and gooey.

One cooled, carefully remove the brownies in the greaseproof paper and using a knife dipped in hot water, divide into 12 squares .

These last in a sealed cake box for up to a week.


500g frozen pitted red cherries, defrosted

1 cup sugar

½ cup water

Pinch of salt

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Slowly dissolve the sugar, water, pinch of salt and lemon juice in a saucepan.

Simmer for 5 minutes or so then add the defrosted pitted cherries.

Stir together.

Simmer on a low heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally until the liquid has reduced to the syrup has thickened.

Allow to cool and store refrigerated in a sterilised Kilner Jar until ready to use.