Valentine’s Day is a time to show those you love how much you care.
A special way to do this is to create tempting Valentine’s Day treats. The ten I have selected vary in taste and appearance so they make an attractive arrangement in a fancy tin or basket available at your local dollar store.
[quote]My kids create handmade Valentine messages to tuck in with the sweet treats. This is a very popular item no matter who receives the Valentine’s Day sweet treat.[/quote]
We create Valentine treat baskets for grandparents, special neighbors, the babysitter and the children’s teachers. Last year, we delivered tiny basket and homemade cards to seniors at the local seniors’ home and a big basket to our children’s librarian and our doctors’ office. Everyone is very excited and pleased to receive our Valentine treats and the kids’ personal messages.
All of the recipes were especially selected with an eye to cooking with kids. Only two require adult supervision of the oven. My kids love helping to create, package, and deliver these treats! This is a project they begin to anticipate right after Christmas. Each year we retain some old favorites and add a new recipe or two. Of course, these need to be made and taste tested in January—according to my kids.
Melt twelve ounces of white chocolate in the microwave. Stir often and just melt it! Add 1 T. margarine and 4 oz. chopped white chocolate. (I do mine in a food processor.) Spread on tin foil. Top with chopped peppermint candy. Let harden. Break into bite-size pieces.
Melt 1 c. dark chocolate in microwave, stirring until just melted. Add 2 cups chow mein noodles and ½ cup chopped peanuts. Drop by tablespoon onto tin foil. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts. (If someone in your family has peanut allergies, chopped pecans or walnuts may be substituted or increase noodles by ½ cup and omit nuts.)
Place 1 cup cream and ¼ cup butter in a mixing bowl in microwave and set on defrost. Heat until butter melts. Add a pound of semisweet chocolate chopped. Stir until it melts. Add the flavor of your choice—vanilla or peppermint or almond or strawberry or coconut. Chill an hour or until mixture can be rolled into small balls. Roll balls in coconut or crushed peppermint or nuts or crushed cinnamon hearts. You might vary what you flavor with and what you roll balls in. For example add peppermint to some and roll in peppermint and add coconut flavor to others and roll in coconut.
Line 9” x 13” oblong pan with foil. Simmer ¼ cup butter, 1 cup cream and 2 cups of sugar in microwave until mixture is smooth. Stir often. Add 4 cups mini marshmallows and stir until they are melted. Mix in three cups chopped white or dark chocolate and 1 tsp. peppermint extract. Blend well. Spread in oblong pan. Sprinkle with crushed peppermint or crushed cinnamon hearts. Cool. Cut into triangles.
Mix the sugar cookie recipe of your choice (or buy a sugar cookie mix). Bake as directed. When cookies have cooled, ice with cream cheese frosting (Make your own or buy a tin of prepared frosting.) Ice cookies and sprinkle with crushed cinnamon hearts or decorate tops with whole cinnamon hearts.
Make the brownie recipe of your choice (or buy a brownie mix). Add ½ cup pecans, ½ cup crushed cinnamon hearts or crushed peppermint candies. Bake. Cool. Ice with vanilla or cream cheese frosting and sprinkle with crushed cinnamon hearts or crushed peppermint candies. Cut in small squares.
Toasted Almond Truffles
Combine one 15-ounce can evaporated milk, 2 cups milk chocolate chips. Bring to boil in microwave stirring often. Add ½ tsp. almond extract. Stir in 1 c. crushed almonds and mix until smooth. Roll into small balls and roll in crushed almonds. Chill.
Chocolate Cinnamon Truffles
Mix ½ c milk and a package of vanilla instant pudding mix. Add thirty crushed vanilla wafers. Shape into 1” balls. Freeze ten minutes. Melt 8 oz. milk chocolate in microwave stirring often. Just melt! Dip balls in melted chocolate and roll in crushed cinnamon hearts.
Good Old-fashioned Chocolate Chip Cookies
Heat oven to 375. Mix 1 c. butter and 1 cup sugar together. Add 2 eggs. Mix 2 ¼ c. flour and ½ tsp. baking soda together and add gradually to egg/sugar/butter mixture. Add 2c. milk chocolate chips and mix thoroughly. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheet leaving 2” between each. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool and place on rack.
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup ground pecans
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter or margarine, diced into small pieces
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup raspberry jam
Mix all ingredients except jam. Cut finished dough into two and form 2 balls. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for two hours. Roll out dough and cut into heart shaped cookies. (See below for faster way to make cookies.) Put a thumbprint in the middle of each and fill with raspberry jam. Bake at 375 degrees until pale golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to racks to cool. If you want to streamline this you can make each cookie dough half into log rolls chill and cut into rounds instead of cutting into heart shapes.
You can try one or two Valentine treats or make all ten! Or, you can substitute some of your favorite sweet treats for some of mine. We’d love to hear about your sweet treat recipes.
These are all great kid-friendly baking projects so think about working with your kids to make treats for mommy or daddy or grandparents or teacher Valentine treats! Time spent cooking with kids (as you know from my previous posts in RMC) is valuable learning and talking time. This project also shows kids the joy of giving and the rewards they receive from doing a kind deed.
I often tuck one of these treats in my kids’ lunches as a special surprise and include a heart-shaped note. One day, I opened my lunch at work to find a sweet treat and a note from my kids. It was a Kodak moment!
With a little planning and some valuable kid time in the kitchen, your Valentine’s treats can say, “I love you!” to those special people in your life.
[quote]As Charles Schulz said: All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt![/quote]
For more information on the value of cooking with kids please read my earlier posts on cooking with kids projects on RMC.
We’d love to hear your Valentine’s Day sweet treats stories!
Happy Valentine’s Day!