Salt Lake City is the most romantic place in the country — at least for home cooks, according to Allrecipes.com, one of the world's biggest recipe sites. Home cooks living in Salt Lake City conducted the most searches on the website for Valentine's Day recipes last year, compared to the rest of the country.
The four other areas with the most-searched sweetheart recipes were: Des Moines-Ames, Iowa; the Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon-York area of Pennsylvania; Omaha, Neb.; and Wilkes Barre-Scranton, Penn.
Frankly those aren't the first locations that come to mind when I think "romance." What about San Francisco, where Tony Bennett left his heart? Or New York City, with Central Park and Tiffany's? Or Las Vegas with all of those cheap wedding chapels?
Perhaps a lot of the people living in those cities might be going out to a restaurant for their Valentine's celebration.
Maybe more folks in Utah, Iowa, Pennsylvania and Nebraska would be cooking at home, whipping up a batch of sugar cookies for the family or dipping into a fondue with their sweetheart. Hence, more of them would be looking up recipes that they can make themselves.
I asked an Allrecipes.com representative, to find out what recipes Utah's home cooks were checking out last February on the site.
Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies allrecipes.com/Recipe/Cream-Cheese-Sugar-Cookies/Detail.aspx and Eclairs II allrecipes.com/Recipe/Eclairs-II/Detail.aspx tied for the top spot, followed by Stuffed French Toast I allrecipes.com/Recipe/Stuffed-French-Toast-I/Detail.aspx, Coconut Curry Chicken allrecipes.com/Recipe/Coconut-Curry-Chicken/Detail.aspx, Valentine's Day Salad allrecipes.com/Recipe/Valentines-Day-Salad/Detail.aspx and Matty's Brie Cheese Fondue allrecipes.com/Recipe/Mattys-Brie-Cheese-Fondue/Detail.aspx.
"Breakfast seemed to be a theme, with three French toast recipes among the top 25 (two stuffed, one baked) and with croissants allrecipes.com/Recipe/Croissants/Detail.aspx in the mix as well," noted the representative.
That makes sense, since Eggs Benedict was one of the most-searched recipes among viewers in the western United States.
Also among the most-searched recipes were Cream Puffs allrecipes.com/Recipe/Cream-Puffs/Detail.aspx , The Best Valentine Sugar Cookies allrecipes.com/Recipe/The-Best-Valentine-Sugar-Cookies/Detail.aspx and Sauteed Swiss Chard with Parmesan Cheese allrecipes.com/Recipe/Sauteed-Swiss-Chard-with-Parmesan-Cheese/Detail.aspx .
I asked the representative what Allrecipe.com's criteria is for a "Valentine's Day" dish, because I wouldn't have thought of Swiss Chard or Eggs Benedict. They were simply the most-searched recipes around Valentine's Day.
"My thinking is that Eggs Benedict is great possibility as a 'breakfast in bed' dish or Valentine's breakfast," said the Allrecipe.com's representative. "And Sauteed Swiss Chard was most likely a popular side item for those cooking romantic dinners, since we found that filet mignon and other steak/chicken dinners were popular in other areas of the country."
Here's the recipe for those top-searched Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies. It calls for a 3-ounce package of cream cheese, something I've not been able to find in my supermarket. So I use the measurements given on the 8-ounce package and slice off a 3-ounce section.
Cream Cheese sugar cookies
1 cup white sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
21/4 cups all-purpose flour
In a large bowl, combine the sugar, butter, cream cheese, salt, almond and vanilla extracts, and egg yolk. Beat until smooth. Stir in flour until well blended. Chill the dough for 8 hours, or overnight.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough 1?3 at a time, to 1?8-inch thickness, refrigerating remaining dough until ready to use. Cut into desired shapes with lightly floured cookie cutters. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Leave cookies plain for frosting, or brush with slightly beaten egg white and sprinkle with candy sprinkles or colored sugar.
Bake for 7 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until light and golden brown. Cool cookies completely before frosting.
Valerie Phillips is the former Deseret News food editor. She blogs at www.chewandchat.blogspot.com.