Those fancy boxes of candy can be pretty expensive. A Valentine dessert from the corner bakery or in a restaurant can cost you almost as much a nice meal.
So why not tell your loved ones how you feel with homemade Valentine’s Day desserts and treats? They’re less expensive, and they’re tailored to their tastes. What else says “I love you” more than some thoughtful effort?
If you’re looking for some Valentine’s Day baking ideas, use these recipes for holiday inspiration. Even better, many are perfect or can be adapted for your friends and family with food allergies.
Chocolate fruit-nut patties
Don’t go for that heart-shaped box of chocolates — make your own candy instead. These chocolate fruit-nut patties are so simple to make.
Melt 20 ounces of good dark chocolate either over a double boiler or slowly in the microwave. Stir in one cup of dried cranberries or dried cherries, plus one cup of nuts such as cashews, macadamias or almonds. Stir to combine.
Drop by the tablespoonful onto foil or waxed paper (sprayed with nonstick spray), or pour the mixture into flexible individual heart-shaped molds. Let cool at room temperature until firm, or cool in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes. Slip each patty into an individual cellophane sack (available at craft stores). Decorate if you like.
If you have a heart-shaped baking pan, consider making your favorite brownie mix or recipe and baking it in that. Then melt ¼ cup chocolate chips and mix with two-three tablespoons of heavy cream and drizzle it over the whole brownie. Add a side of ice cream to serve. This makes a great family dessert for Valentine’s Day.
Those store-bought chocolate-dipped strawberries can be pricey. If you’re looking for a romantic Valentine’s Day dessert that takes no time and costs way less than the pre-made confections, consider creating your own chocolate dipped strawberries.
Melt three four-ounce bars of good dark chocolate or the equivalent amount of melting wafers in a double boiler. Find at least eight large strawberries and dip each one just more than half way. If you like, roll them n chopped nuts or colored sprinkles.
Place the decorated strawberries on waxed paper or a parchment-lined cookie sheet and refrigerate. If you don’t want the strawberries to be flat on one side where the chocolate touches the paper, cut off the green tops and stand the strawberries on the cut side, so the chocolate coating is in the air. Allow the treats to come to room temperature a half hour before serving.
Peanut butter truffles
Truffles in a candy shop are outrageously expensive — $2 or more per yummy morsel. You’ve seen how easy it is to make chocolate truffles on those TV cooking shows. But how about switching things up with some treats flavored with your favorite sandwich spread? Try this peanut butter truffle recipe for your non-allergic valentine.
One teaspoon plus 1/4 cup butter, divided
1/4 cup honey
2 cups creamy peanut butter
1¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ cups finely chopped honey-roasted peanuts or miniature semisweet chocolate chips
- Line an eight-inch square pan with foil; grease foil with one teaspoon butter.
- In a small saucepan, combine honey and remaining butter over medium heat; stir until blended. Stir in peanut butter until smooth. Remove from heat; whisk in confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Spread into prepared pan. Refrigerate, covered, two hours or until firm.
- Place peanuts in a shallow bowl. Using foil, lift candy out of pan. Remove foil; cut candy into 64 squares. Shape squares into balls and roll in peanuts. Store between layers of waxed paper in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Yield: 64 truffles.
That’s a lot of truffles — enough for your child’s whole class with some leftover for family munching.
Flourless chocolate cake
Remember that scrumptious flourless chocolate cake you had at that pricey restaurant? It’s not that hard to make at home, it’s a lot cheaper and it’s just as good. Try this recipe from the test kitchens at Food Network:
12 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter
¼ teaspoon fine salt
Six large eggs, room temperature
1½ cups granulated sugar
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray a 9-by-2-inch spring form pan with nonstick spray.
- Put the chocolate, butter, and salt in a large microwave safe bowl. Melt in the microwave for one minute. Stir and microwave again for one minute, then heat again until completely melted, about two minutes more. Alternatively, put the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl. Bring a saucepan filled with an inch or so of water to a very slow simmer; set the bowl on the pan without touching the water. Stir occasionally until melted.
- Beat the eggs and sugar with an electric mixer until light and thickened, about eight to 10 minutes. Fold the melted chocolate into the whipped eggs until evenly combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out wet but not gooey, about one hour and 25 minutes. Remove cake from the oven and cool on a rack.
- To serve, remove ring from spring form mold. Dust cake with confectioners’ sugar. For a pretty Valentine’s cake, use a paper doily to create a pattern on top of the cake. Place the doily on the cooled cake and sprinkle with the powdered sugar. Remove the doily and serve with whipped cream or ice cream if desired.
For a kids’ party, how about chocolate cream-filled cupcakes? They’re as easy as making a box mix and adding your own flourishes. Or tackle these seemingly difficult but easier-than-you-think molten lava cakes. Your Valentine is sure to be impressed!
Not everyone loves chocolate (hard to believe) and some people are actually allergic to it. Poor things. If so, think about your favorite strawberry shortcake for a Valentine’s Day dessert. You can make your own shortcake, of course, or you can buy a good angel food or pound cake at the grocery store bakery, top it with sweetened fresh or frozen thawed berries and a dollop of whipped cream. One easy strawberry shortcake recipe has you making biscuits then topping them with whipped cream and strawberries.
Cream puffs are easy and always a hit. This Betty Crocker cream puff recipe has several options for fillings, or you can use sweetened whipped cream. The website has lots of other ideas for desserts using shortcuts, such as cake and pudding mixes.
Valentine’s Day cookies
If you’re desperate to make something yourself but have no baking talent, you can always buy a roll of sugar cookie dough, roll it out and use a heart-shaped cookie cutter. Sprinkle the cookies with red-colored sugar and center each with a cinnamon heart. It might not be fancy but hey, it’s the thought that counts, right?
Single sandwich cookies can be dipped in melted chocolate. Add heart shaped sprinkles or drizzle white chocolate over the hardened first layer for a fancy treat.
So get cooking and have a Happy Valentine’s Day!
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