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Celebrate a minor holiday

Or is Valentine’s Day even a minor holiday in the Philippines?

For the past year I have been listening to the podcast Happier by Gretchen Rubin and she suggests that one thing you can do to make you and your loved ones happier is to celebrate a minor holiday. For her, this means Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Leap Day (February 29), May 4th (for Star Wars Fans out there) or even some obscure holiday like 2/22/22, which falls on a Tuesday, and celebrate “Twos-day” with someone who is an important part of a two-some with you.

So, back to Valentine’s Day. This year it fell on Becca’s Sportsferien, which is a week-long school holiday so that the kids and their families can go skiing. Skiing is very important to the Swiss, but not to us, and with Omicron cases still rising, it felt safer to go visit their grandparents in Germany.

I had Becca make some cards for her Oma and Opa and she also chose the chocolates to give them.

As it turned out, my in-laws were only mildly aware it was Valentine’s Day and were happily surprised when Becca presented them with a hand-made card and chocolates.

And I surprised the girls with candy and chocolates the morning of.

Like my mom did when we were growing up.

We always got a small pack of Hershey’s Kisses on Valentine’s Day. To this day, I always associate Hersey’s Kisses with home in Silay and Valentine’s Day.

My husband and I don’t really do Valentines. It was not a big thing in Germany while he was growing up and we compromised that he will cook me dinner and we exchange small gifts, usually chocolates. But he got lucky this year and he didn’t have to cook. We just stuffed ourselves (the whole family, Oma and Opa included) with takeaway Chinese, something we don’t do in Biel as (1) I haven’t found a good Chinese place and (2) everything is ridiculously expensive.

But I do hope you all felt some love on the 14th, be it from your loved ones, your pets, or even yourself. Treat yourself!!

And one of the best treats I can think of is cream cheese brownies. While I do love a cheesecake, it takes infinitely longer to make than these cream cheese brownies. Plus, with these brownies, you get some chocolate and have it ready within the hour. And if you are too impatient to wait for it to cool at room temperature, chuck it in the freezer!

Cream Cheese Brownies

For the brownies

10 tbsp/140g unsalted butter

1 ¼ c/250g white sugar

¾ c + 2 tbsp/75g unsweetened cocoa powder

¼ tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 large eggs

½ c/65g all-purpose flour

For the cream cheese filling

200g cream cheese

¼ c/50g white sugar

1 large egg

½ tsp vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C. Line a 9×9 inch square baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two opposite ends to make it easier to remove the brownies after they are baked.
  2. Make the brownie batter: In a microwave-safe bowl, place the butter, sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Microwave on high for one minute, take out and stir a bit. If the butter is not completely melted, put back for another minutes. Alternatively, you can melt everything by setting your bowl in a skillet of simmering water. The mixture will be gritty, i.e. the sugar is not melted.
  3. Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon or spatula.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each addition.
  5. Add the flour, stir until it is mixed in well, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes.
  6. Pour into the prepared pan and smooth out.
  7. Prepare the cream cheese filling: In a medium bowl, using a wooden spoon or an electric hand mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add in the egg and vanilla and mix well.
  8. Pour over the brownies and use a knife to swirl the cream cheese mixture into the brownies.
  9. Place in the lower third of your oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and cut into squares.*
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December 2022

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