A Valentine’s Day Treat: Chocolate Cherry Almond Heart Bread

Chocolate Cherry Almond Heart Bread

One of my favorite things about Valentine’s Day is that we get to make our Chocolate Cherry Almond Heart Bread. This bread is inspired by a Greek Christmas bread I began baking in Macrina’s early days. It has evolved into one of my favorite Valentine’s Day gifts. The aroma coming from our ovens while it is baking is irresistible— sweet and buttery mixed with the scent of cherries and bittersweet chocolate, and that hint of brandy is the kicker. We bake the golden-brown bread in the shape of a heart. I warm it up slightly before serving and have difficulty restraining myself from eating the whole loaf.

For those who don’t eat the entire thing in one sitting, or are looking for how best to use this bread, I have a few suggestions:

Chocolate Cherry Almond French Bread

1. This loaf makes incredible French toast served with fresh raspberries, maple syrup or a drizzle of chocolate ganache and slightly sweetened whipped cream.

2. Sauté one-inch slices with butter until caramelized to a golden brown. Serve warm drizzled with chocolate ganache and slightly sweetened whipped cream.

3. For a decadent dessert, toast one-inch slices and serve them with rich chocolate or vanilla ice cream and top with plumped dried cherries and drizzle of chocolate sauce

4. For a savory treat, cut half-inch slices and sauté in butter to golden brown and top with a slice of brie. The heat of the bread will warm the brie.

Our Cherry Almond Heart Bread is available at our cafés through Valentine’s Day.



Valentine’s Day Brunch: Cherry Brioche French Toast

Cherry Brioche French Toast

Instead of scrambling to find a last-minute Valentine’s Day dinner reservation, whip up a delicious brunch for your Valentine – or your favorite single friends. Our Mini Cherry Brioche is only available for a limited time and it makes a wonderful French toast. Topped with warm maple syrup and rich brandy whipped cream, it’s a sweet way to start the day whether you’re happily single or blissfully coupled.

Cherry Brioche French Toast
Click here to print this recipe!


For the brandy whipped cream:
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon brandy
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla

For the French toast:
5 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
*1 Mini Cherry Brioche
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon butter

*Available in our cafés.

Serves 2

Preparing the brandy whipped cream:
In a medium bowl, place the cream, brandy, sugar and vanilla. Mix with a whisk or hand-mixer until the mixture holds its shape, about 2 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.

Preparing the French toast:
1. In a medium bowl, place the eggs, vanilla, brown sugar, cream, cinnamon and nutmeg and whisk to combine. Pour custard into a shallow baking pan.

2. Cut the brioche into 1-inch thick slices. Dredge each slice in the custard, making sure all sides are evenly coated.

3. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, warm the vegetable oil and butter. Lay the brioche slices in the pan and cook until both sides are golden brown.

4. Divide French toast slices among 2 plates. Serve with a drizzle of pure maple syrup and a dollop of brandy whipped cream.

Valentine’s Day at Macrina

Valentine's Day 2014

Despite the love surrounding Valentine’s Day, this holiday can be rather divisive. Those not partnered up have even created the antithesis, dubbing it Singles Awareness Day. Whether you love it or hate it, we can all agree that February 14 gets one thing right: Food. Seeing to it that no one misses out, we’ve pulled together some delicious sweets and savories to share with your favorite people or keep all to yourself.

1. Potted Cheese – We top a blend of chèvre, cream cheese and Manchego with a relish of roasted beets, raspberries, Champagne vinegar and spices. Couple it with our Sardinian Flatbread or Crostini for an elegant appetizer or party snack.

2. Raspberry Pocket Pie – Our signature pie crust is wrapped around fresh raspberries and raspberry preserves, then topped with crystal sugar. Slip one into your youngster’s lunchbox or bring some to the office to share.

3. Mini Chocolate Orange Coffee Cake – If there was ever an excuse to have chocolate for breakfast, it’s Valentine’s Day. This coffee cake is laced with flavors of orange, bittersweet chocolate and roasted almonds and topped with rich chocolate ganache.

4. Fresh Strawberry Tartlet – This tartlet comes dressed in Cupid’s favorite colors, filled with sweetened strawberries and topped with white chocolate curls.

5. Heart Galette – Want to skip the mad scramble for Valentine’s Day dinner reservations? Treat your favorite person to a Valentine’s Day brunch instead! Filled with ricotta and chèvre and topped with a roasted beet relish, we make this savory pastry easy to reheat and serve.

6. Infinity Cake – Enough to satisfy four, this cake is the perfect dessert for those double-dating this Valentine’s Day. We fill our white chocolate almond cake with raspberry amaretto Bavarian cream and fresh strawberries, then finish it with white chocolate sour cream frosting, a fresh raspberry and sugared rose petal.

You can find these items along with many more Valentine’s Day treats in all of our cafés through Sunday, February 16.

Glazed to Perfection: How to Make Chocolate Ganache

Chocolate Orange Coffee Cake glazed with chocolate ganache

Our Mini Chocolate Orange Coffee Cake drizzled with rich chocolate ganache.

Chocolate ganache is rainbow sprinkle frosting all grown up. It’s patent leather shoes and sequin sparkles. It’s velvety smooth and seductive. Go ahead. We dare you to whip up an easy batch and not dip a finger into the decadent gloss.

We use chocolate ganache in many of our recipes, from Cocoa Puffs to Chocolate Orange Coffee Cake. Since it brings a full-bodied thrum of chocolate flavor to everything it touches – and you can’t have Valentine’s Day without chocolate – we decided to share our signature chocolate ganache recipe.

Chocolate Ganache
Click here to print this recipe!


1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup good-quality semisweet chocolate chips


Pour the heavy cream into a small saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring the cream to a froth just before it boils. Turn off the heat and add the chocolate chips. Using a rubber spatula, stir constantly until the chocolate has completely melted. Set the pan aside and let the ganache cool to the desired consistency. The ganache will thicken as it cools.

How to Use Chocolate Ganache

  • Pour warm ganache over ice cream for an off-the-charts delicious sundae.
  • Dip your favorite fruits (dried or fresh), nuts (raw or roasted) and candies.
  • Drizzle warm ganache over a bundt cake for a dramatic effect that’s impossible to mess up.
  • Top cupcakes in lieu of traditional frosting.
  • Spread a layer over a pan of brownies for death-by-chocolate decadence.