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When I was a little girl, I loved visiting my Aunt Helen’s kitchen. It was a very small kitchen in a very small apartment but despite limited counter space and cramped quarters, she made many wonderful meals in that room. I learned so much watching her work there and often enjoyed the fruits of her labor.

One of the walls in her kitchen was decorated with a set of four Mirro Aluminum Coppertone molds – a heart, a crown, gothic ring and flute. I always loved the results when she used those molds to make beautiful gelatin desserts or ice molds for her delicious punch bowls for holidays.

When Gregg and I moved into our home 40 years ago, Aunt Helen came to visit and brought me a housewarming gift – her set of Coppertone molds complete with an instruction sheet. I was touched by her generosity. We hadn’t talked about those molds for years and I couldn’t believe she remembered how much I loved them when I was a little girl.

They decorated our kitchen for several years until we put cabinets on the wall where they had hung since Aunt Helen had given them to me. Now they are stored out of sight in a cupboard but the heart mold makes an annual appearance during February to celebrate Saint Valentine’s Day.

From that old and carefully preserved instruction sheet, I learned that I could bake a heart-shaped cake using the mold. Because the heart mold has a raised design, a cake baked in this pan is a beautiful dessert with just a sprinkle of powdered sugar. If you choose to bake a cake in these molds you need to know that you must bake the cake in an oven that is set 25 degrees less than the recipe’s recommended oven temperature.

I am going to share three of the recipes that use these molds. The first is the cake recipe that I use to make a Valentine cake for my family. I guess I always think of chocolate for Valentine’s Day and this is an easy from scratch version – it is also delicious.

The second recipe is an appetizer that Aunt Helen made for our family parties. This mold was always one of my favorites and because it is a lovely pink color, it makes a great Valentine dish.

The third is a punch recipe that is appropriate for a Valentine’s Day party. This white punch is beautiful with a red heart ice mold floating in the middle. It is very festive and delicious.

Easy Chocolate Cake

1 cup flour

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup milk

1/3 cup cooking oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 egg

Powdered Sugar

Grease and flour the heart mold or a 9-inch round cake pan. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add milk, oil, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed just until combined. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add egg and beat for an additional 2 minutes. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake in a 325-degree oven if you are using a Coppertone mold or 350 degrees if you are using a 9-inch round pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and sift powdered sugar over the top of the cake.

Crab Mold

1 can (10-ounce) tomato soup

1 package (8-ounce) cream cheese

2 envelopes plain gelatin

1/4 cup cold water

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1 cup mayonnaise

1 cup finely chopped celery

2 tablespoons finely chopped onions

1/3 cup finely chopped green pepper

1 can (6-ounce) crabmeat

Heat tomato soup with cream cheese until both are melted and thoroughly mixed. Dissolve gelatin in the water. Add to soup mixture. Add mayonnaise to soup mixture and mix thoroughly. Add chopped vegetables and drained crab meat. Put into a greased heart mold or greased bowl. Chill thoroughly. Remove from mold and serve with your favorite crackers.

White Punch with Red Ice Mold

1 package (10 ounces) frozen strawberries, thawed

1 can (12 ounces) pink lemonade

Lemon-lime soda

1 quart white grape juice

8 cups lemon-lime soda

Puree strawberries in a blender or food processor until smooth. Add thawed pink lemonade. Pour into a lightly oiled mold. Add lemon-lime soda to fill the mold. Place on a level surface in your freezer and freeze until firm. Unmold frozen ice heart by dipping in hot water for 15 seconds and place in a punch bowl. Add chilled white grape juice and soda. Recipe Note: To oil my mold, I dip the corner of a paper towel in a very small amount of oil and rub the surface of the mold with a very light touch. I want the ice to release easily but I don’t want any trace of oil in my punch.

Quote of the Week: To laugh often and love much, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to give of one’s self, this is to have succeeded. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Ellen Lund

of Fremont is a freelance food columnist.

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