Chocolate Roses for Valentine’s

I’ve been getting an impression that you, Beautiful People, like reading my historical improvisations more than my recipes. I am happy to accommodate. As we say in Odessa, “If it’s songs you want, I’ve got them for you.”


This is Frida Kahlo, a great Mexican artist famous for her self-portraits and paintings of flowers. She is the one from whose life I’ve drawn inspiration and strength throughout the years. At the age of six, as a result of polio, Frida ended up with one leg shorter and thinner than the other. Bullied by kids, she developed special closeness with her father, himself a victim of epilepsy, who gently pushed her towards sports and physical exercise. As she was gaining her strength, never letting a physical handicap get into her way, Frida pursued not only “girlish” sports, such as swimming, roller-skating, bicycling – with one short leg! – but also boxing and wrestling that were considered strictly a “guy-thing.” Not as drastic as that, but I did something similar, the only girl playing football (that’s soccer, my American friends) with boys in the country and at the time when it was strictly a men’s game.

As if this was not enough, at the age of 18 Frida Kahlo suffered a near fatal traffic accident that left her ill for the rest of her life. She was in constant pain. One of her friends remarked that she “lived dying.” But she cheated death by dancing flamenco with it! She requested an easel and paints, and a large mirror, and bedridden, she started painting herself. Gradually gaining strength, she also started gaining acceptance as a talented artist. She managed to get up, get married, travel, exhibit, earn a world-wide fame, and all that within twenty years of intensely active life. She was in her thirties when her health declined to the point when she could no more sit or stand for long. Confined to a wheelchair or bed, Frida went on working. Through excruciating surgeries and hospital stays, she continued painting until her last moment, or, as she called it, “exit” at the age of 47.

Odessa 1973.jpg

I was twenty-one when I found myself in the hospital with an undetermined diagnosis. Superstitious nurses’ aides and cleaning ladies used to whisper around my bed, “Look how fast her hair grows! And her nails too! It’s a sure sign that she is dying – and so young!” When I realized that I wasn’t getting out any time soon, I asked my father to fashion a wooden book stand for me that allowed me to read and write while lying on my back. I would give my mother lists of books to bring me: history, philosophy, art, music, all the world culture that was accessible in communist Russia. Much of it wasn’t accessible, but my mother, may her memory last forever, managed! After a few months of the best intensive Liberal Arts education you could ever get, they finally figured out – surgery! Immediate! Stat! Without prepping! Another bout of comments from lower med personnel ensued, “Take the wedding band, earrings, and gold chain off her, and let’s give it to the family.” “No, wait ’till she dies, that’s how it’s done.” “But it’ll be harder then, and she is going to die on the table anyway – what’s the difference?”

The latter opinion prevailed. My little jewelry pieces were taken off and given to my grandmother who promptly concluded that I was not around anymore, since jewelry usually was not removed from a live person. My grandmother’s shriek is the last thing I remember, until I came to in the post-op room shared by sixteen post-operational ladies. I don’t know whether this was the greatest challenge in my life, but I remembered the words of a song:

But I don’t cry, I don’t cry ever,

Mine is a different endeavor!

And I laugh, day, eve, and morn, 

Because I am Odessa – born!

For those of you, Beautiful People, who understand Russian, here is the inimitable Boris Sichkin as Buba Kastorsky – Buba from Odessa!

So I asked for my book stand again, and I started drawing. I am not an artist, by far, and certainly nowhere near great Frida Kahlo, but I got quite a few laughs drawing very non-politically correct caricatures of doctors and nurses. So what if they were not professional; they worked better than medicine! Then I got up and started moving. And I haven’t stopped yet! A second surgery, in the U.S., was a breeze compared to that one. Fifty years later, I am here, and enjoying life!

For those of you, dear blogofriends, who are inquiring about my recovery, I am immensely grateful for your concern! Thank G-d, I am doing fine and will be back in the saddle soon.

So here are two pieces of advice, for the price of one:

  1. Laugh and make others laugh – it sends a surge of serotonin into your brain and gives you strength!
  2. Keep active and move, physically, mentally, and emotionally as much as you can, and then a little more every day – this way problems never have a chance to catch up with you!

Frida Kahlo had painted flowers. I baked them. We don’t exactly celebrate Valentine’s day, other than a day of love that should really be celebrated every day. As usual, my husband brought me red roses – it’s not a Valentine thing with us; he brings me red roses every Friday, for Shabbos. In return, I baked roses for him – double chocolate, of course!

Choc  ros 1.jpg

In my kitchen, spelt is considered gluten free, but if you have allergy or a celiac disorder, please consult your physician. In this recipe, spelt flour could easily be substituted by gluten free or almond flour.


I use whipped aquafaba (that’s the liquid you get after cooking chickpeas or draining a can of them) instead of eggs, to avoid cholesterol, but you can use two eggs here, if you are not of vegan persuasion. Whip’em good, to a nice foam.

Choc  ros 2.jpg

Add the rest of the stuff: soy milk (or any other non-dairy milk you prefer), agave, a little baking powder, and a pinch of salt, and whisk it all together. Then mix your spelt or gluten free flour into it and gently mix it into soft dough that doesn’t stick to the bowl.

Choc  ros 3.jpg

This is the fun part. Dump your dough onto a floured board or working surface and flatten it. You don’t need a rolling pin – just do it gently with your fingers. Mix equal parts brown sugar and cocoa powder and spread it on top of the dough. Now roll it, like a sushi roll. Keep sprinkling flour, if it sticks to your fingers.

Choc  ros 4.jpg

With a floured sharp knife, cut one inch (2.5 cm) pieces. If some cocoa and sugar spill in the process, don’t worry. Let it be for now.

Choc  ros 5.jpg

Place your cut pieces on the side on a lightly oiled baking sheet and try to keep each slice in the shape of a rose. If you have any spilled cocoa and sugar, you can sprinkle it on top of the roses. It only takes thirty minutes to bake them at 350 F.


I promised double chocolate, and here it is – chocolate syrup drizzled on top of the baked rose. The cat in the background is undoubtedly playing something romantic, like Rachmaninoff’s Concerto in C-minor. That’s what I hear, anyway.  

A passionate rendition by the famous Russian prodigy Evgeny kISSIN.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Beautiful People! In the immortal words of Michael Jackson, “I love you, I love you, I love you all!”


  • 3 cups spelt or gluten free flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup aquafaba or 2 eggs
  • 1 cup soy milk or any milk substitute of your choice
  • 1/3 cup agave
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • Chocolate syrup to garnish


  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly mist baking pan with oil.
  • Whip aquafaba to foam, add salt, baking powder, agave, soy milk, and whisk together. Add flour, mix thoroughly but gently.
  • Turn dough onto floured surface, gently flatten. Mix brown sugar with cocoa powder, spread on top of dough. Roll dough, cut across into 1 inch (2.5 cm) slices.
  • Place slices on oiled pan, keep rose shapes, sprinkle with leftover sugar/cocoa filling.
  • Bake for 30 minutes. Remove, drizzle chocolate syrup on top. Can be served warm.


27 Comments Add yours

  1. CarolCooks2 says:

    Happy Valentines Day I’m sure hubby enjoyed his chocolate rose made by his Valentine x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, he enjoyed more than one, but who is counting…

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I think Frida would have been proud to learn of your identification with her inspirational struggle and what each of you have achieved

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Derrick, for your perspicacious comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. GP says:

    You certainly know what pleases your readers, Dolly!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am happy to please, GP.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Gail says:

    Wow! You are truly gifted in word, art, and cooking! What an inspiration you are. Truly! 💕🍃🌸

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, darling (blushing all over the internet)!
      Happy Valentine’s to you! 😻

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love the stories, and I love the recipes, so keep both coming Dolly! So glad you are doing so well!
    Thanks for double chocolate, and Happy Valentines Day!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear Dorothy, for your kind words. Happy Valentine’s to you!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I love your stories and your recipes and wish i had time to make more of them!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, dear Mimi! You are very kind.


  7. 15andmeowing says:

    Glad you are feeling better. Happy Valentine’s Day. XO

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, darling! Happy belated Valentine’s to you!


  8. Lakshmi Bhat says:

    Thank you for sharing about Frida and about yourself. But I really cannot understand how the nurses could talk so in your hearing. Reading your post I remembered my father. When I was just 1, he was in the hospital for nearly a year , completely bed ridden due to spinal TB. He learnt many things there including tatting 😊. He passed away in 2016 at the age of 85.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lower medical personnel in Soviet Russia was known for stupidity and rudeness, since the pay was so miniscule that nobody wanted to do these jobs, other than the very dregs of society,
      Your comment, dear Lakshmi, reminded me of my father’s passing, also in 2016, at the age of 86. May both our fathers rest in peace.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I love the stories and the music. If only those awful medics could see what a long and great life you went on to have!
    We once saw Evgenny at the Royal Albert Hall in London, but we were so high up he was like a tiny puppet down below, though the music was great. I love all Rachmaninov’s concertos.


    1. I do too, and I’ve played them all and loved them. Thank you so much for your lovely comment, dear friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. lghiggins says:

    What a wonderful inspirational story of your health struggles. Thank you for sharing, dear Dolly. I am so happy you are on the mend!


    1. Thank you so much, dear Linda.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for reblogging, dear Michael.


  11. Sorry for the late revisit, Dolly! I hope you had a great Valentine celebration. I have just seen that your are riding a motor bike. Really? Love it! Thanks for sharing another great recipe. Best wishes, Michael


    1. That’s how I broke my ankle, Michael, by stupidly trying to park the bike the wrong way. Thank you so much for stopping by, dear friend.


  12. lifelessons says:

    I love this photo of you and your spirit and joy in life. Did they ever determine what your illness was at the age of 21? oxoxo

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sure – they cut it out clean, thank G-d. It came back after many years, and, totally by a fluke, was found early enough to have laser surgery. I am still here and riding. Thank you so much, dear Judy!

      Liked by 1 person

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