Feed your loved one berries this Valentine’s Day

Strawberries are often associated with romance (especially when they're dipped in dark chocolate). But they - and other berries - are also believed to have health benefits, especially for your heart.

Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, cherries and raspberries – whether fresh, frozen, juiced or freeze-dried – are low in calories and fat. They’re also a good source of antioxidants called polyphenols, as well as micronutrients and fibre – elements that are widely linked with improved cardiovascular health.

Berries are ideal when added to breakfast cereals and yoghurts, or for adding flavour to your morning smoothie. But there are lots of other ways you can use them. So this Valentine’s Day, why not try one of these delicious berry recipes from Seasonal Berries?

Blackberry and goat’s cheese tarts

Serves 2-4

Ingredients:
1tbsp olive oil
15g (butter
2 red onions, halved, thinly sliced
2tsp caster sugar
150g blackberries
3 stems fresh thyme, leaves torn from stems, plus a little extra for garnish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
375g packet ready-rolled chilled puff pastry (defrosted if frozen)
Beaten egg, for glazing
100g goat’s cheese, cut into 4 thin slices

To finish:
1tbsp red wine vinegar
2tbsp olive oil
½tsp caster sugar
½tsp Dijon mustard
100g mixed rocket, spinach and watercress salad
175g raspberries

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C (180C fan), Gas Mark 6. Heat the oil and butter in a frying pan, add the onion and fry for 5 minutes, stirring until softened. Add the sugar and fry for 5 minutes, stirring more frequently until lightly browned.
  2. Mix in the blackberries and thyme then season with salt and pepper.
  3. Unroll the pastry then cut 4 heart shapes, transfer to a wetted baking sheet and prick the centre of each heart with a fork, leaving a border about 2cm all the way round.
  4. Brush the pastry with beaten egg then pile the onion and blackberry mix in the centre of each pastry heart. Bake for 10 minutes until the pastry is well risen and lightly browned.
  5. Top each with a slice of goat’s cheese, a few extra thyme leaves and some salt and pepper. Bake for 4-5 minutes more until the cheese has just softened and the pastry is cooked.
  6. Meanwhile, fork the vinegar, oil, sugar and mustard together in a bowl to make a dressing. Add a little salt and pepper then the salad leaves and raspberries and gently toss together.
  7. Arrange one heart per serving for a starter, two for a main course onto plates with a little salad.

Cook’s tip: If you have some raspberry or blackberry vinegar then use this to make the salad dressing with.

Brandied chocolate truffles

Makes 24

Ingredients:
150ml double cream
200g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
2tbsp icing sugar
3tbsp brandy, cherry brandy or kirsch
24 raspberries (about 100g fresh raspberries)
Little sifted cocoa powder for shaping

To finish:
200g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
Tiny pieces of crystallised rose petals or pink edible glitter flakes

  • Pour the cream into a small saucepan, bring just to the boil then take off the heat and add the chocolate pieces. Set aside for 5 minutes or so until the chocolate has melted.
  • Add the sugar and brandy or kirsch and stir until smooth. Leave to cool then transfer to the fridge for about 3 hours until firm.
  • Scoop teaspoons of the truffle mixture on to baking sheet and continue until you have 24 mounds, all about the same size. Make a dip in the centre of each, add a raspberry then press the truffle mixture around the raspberry to enclose it completely. Next roll them between two hands dusted with sifted cocoa powder to get an even round shape. Return the truffles to the fridge to chill for an hour or so until firm.
  • To decorate, add the dark chocolate pieces to a bowl and set this over a saucepan of very gently simmering water so that the bowl stands above the top of the pan and the base of the bowl is not touching the water. Heat for about 5 minutes until the chocolate has just melted.
  • Take the bowl off the pan then slide the prongs of a fork under one of the truffles, and hold this over the melted chocolate. Using a teaspoon, spoon a little of the melted chocolate over the top to cover completely. Slide off the fork on to a baking sheet lined with non-stick baking paper. Continue until all the truffles have been coated, and sprinkle with tiny pieces of crystallised rose petals or glitter flakes.
  • Chill for about 30 minutes or until firm. Keep in the fridge and eat within 3 days.

For more recipes, visit www.seasonalberries.co.uk.