In the modern world, Valentine’s Day is filled with anonymous candy grams, roses and a special night shared with a significant other.
It’s easy for things to get complicated, so sometimes it’s best just to create something that’s really from the heart.
Let’s not forget the history behind this holiday. St. Valentine was a priest in 270 AD. It was a time when young men weren’t allowed to marry, as the Roman Emperor Claudius II believed that unattached men made better soldiers.
After it was discovered that St. Valentine was marrying lovers in secret, he was put to death. His story is the basis for this holiday, one that celebrates the human desire for love.
Even if you don’t have a classic “valentine” or you’re struggling to express your affection, don’t fret. Love comes in many forms — sweet treats, in this case.
Raspberry hot chocolate
Combine a winter classic with the distinct raspberry flavour. It’s good for cuddling after a Valentine’s Day date. Makes two servings.
2 tbsp. cocoa powder
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
5 1/4 cups of milk
3 cups of fresh raspberries
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
1/3 cup of water
1. Place the raspberries, sugar and water in a pot.
2. Turn the burner on medium-high heat and stir until the ingredients are well-combined.
3. Next, turn down the burner to medium-low heat and let the mixture simmer for about seven minutes while stirring frequently to avoid burning and sticking.
4. Once this is completed, take the mixture off the heat and let it cool for about 15 minutes.
5. When cooled enough, strain the mixture one to two times to get rid of seeds and raspberry excess. Set aside syrup.
6. In another pot, begin making the hot chocolate by pouring 1/4 cup milk in a pot along with the cocoa and sugar.
7. Turn stove on high and whisk until the ingredients are combined.
8. Once combined, turn the burner down to medium and add the rest of the milk.
9. Once the hot chocolate is heated enough, add three teaspoons of the raspberry syrup per one cup of hot chocolate and enjoy. You may add more or less syrup.
— Rachel Herscovici
Mini sweetheart jam tarts
These mini delights were developed from my grandmother’s classic pastry recipe — a perfect choice for Valentine’s Day especially because they require such minimal efforts. Since these treats are tiny, it makes indulging on this special day almost guilt-free. And with that touch of jam in the middle, there’s just enough to make that sweet tooth subside.
2 cups of all-purpose, unbleached, white flour (plus extra for rolling out the dough)
1 cup of butter (room temperature, cubed)
1/3 cup melted butter 1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 cup ice cold water
1/3 cup of milk
Small jar of seedless jam (any)
1. Preheat the oven to 355 F. Use the melted butter and coat the tins for the pastries and set aside. You should be able to make 24-30 tarts.
2. Place the butter, flour, sugar, salt in a bowl and begin using the pastry cutter to combine.
3. Once the mixture begins to combine slightly, add the cold water and keep using the pastry cutter to cut and mix until you have dough.
4. Once you have the dough knead it four to five times until it stays in one neat ball. Section the dough into five parts to make it easier to handle and roll out.
5. Using a generous amount of flour on the counter and on the rolling pin (to ensure the dough does not stick) roll out the dough to a thickness of about 3 mm.
6. Using the circle cookie cutter, cut out as many circles as you can make with the dough you have rolled out.
7. Take the dough circles and mould them to the previously buttered tins to make a small pie.
8. Repeat this until all the tins are filled, with some dough left over for the heart toppers.
9. Using a 1/2 teaspoon portion, spoon the jam of choice into the tart centres.
10. Place these in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
11. Roll out the dough to the same thickness as the tarts for the tart toppers. Using a very sharp knife, cut out heart designs about one cm wide. They must be small enough to sit on the tart’s jam portion.
12. Place the toppers onto a buttered cookie tray. Use a pastry brush to coat with butter lightly.
13. Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden brown, alongside the already-baking tarts.
14. After removing from oven and letting everything cool for a moment, place the toppers on the warm jam centers. Fully cool before serving.
— Rachel Herscovici
Red velvet whoopie pies
Try the classic cupcake in a new way — the whoopie pie. These are a less messy alternative to the common cupcake so no need to worry about the embarrassing icing-on-face situation. As a bonus, consider assembling this recipe with a group of friends or a significant other for a fun Valentine’s Day activity.
3 1/3 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 1/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
6 tbsp. red food colouring
3 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp. cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Method One: grease and flour two baking sheets then line with parchment paper and grease and flour again. Method Two: invest in whoopie pie pans. Grease and flour each cavity.
2. In a small bowl, sift the cake flour and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Gradually add the sugar and beat until very light and fluffy (about five minutes).
4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
5. In a small bowl, whisk together the red food colouring, cocoa and vanilla. Add to the batter and beat well. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
6. In a measuring cup, stir the salt into the buttermilk. Add to the batter in three parts, alternating with the flour. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but don’t overbeat.
7. In a small bowl, stir together the cider vinegar and baking soda. Add to the batter and mix well. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended and smooth.
8. Method One: pour three to four cups of batter into each prepared pan, bake for about 10 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Let the layers cool in the pan. When cool, use a cookie cutter to cut desired shapes. Method Two: pour batter into each cavity. Bake for about 10 minutes. Cool before removing from pan.
9. Sandwich two cookies with whipped vanilla icing or your favorite buttercream.
— Megan Cui
Adapted from: magnoliabakery.com
Surprisingly easy to make, cream puffs are an elegant alternative to the rich pastries and cakes often dished out on Valentine’s Day. Consider personalizing the dessert by swapping out the whipped cream with your favourite filings: ice cream, chocolate ganache or flavoured whipped cream.
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted butter, cut into eight pieces
1 tsp. plus 2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
6 large eggs
2 1/2 cup heavy cream
Powdered sugar (for dusting)
1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Fit one large pastry bag (or a plastic freezer bag with 1/2-inch cut from one bottom corner) with plain 1/2-inch tip.
2. Bring milk, butter, one tsp. sugar, salt and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a medium sauce- pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add flour all at once; reduce heat to medium-low. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until a dough forms and pulls away from sides of pan, one to two minutes. Continue beating vigorously until a thin dry film forms on bottom and sides of pot (about one minute). Transfer to a bowl.
3. Add one egg and stir vigorously with wooden spoon until egg is incorporated and dough looks dry again, about two minutes. Repeat with four more eggs, adding one at a time and stirring vigorously to incorporate before adding the next. Dough should be smooth, shiny, and thickened.
4. Spoon dough into prepared pastry bag; pipe out 2 ½-inch-diameter rounds on prepared sheets, leaving two inches between rounds. These can be prepared ahead of time by freezing the piped dough rounds on the baking sheets, then transferring to resealable plastic bags and freezing for up to one month. Place on parchment paper-lined baking sheets, spacing apart (don’t defrost) before continuing with recipe.
5. Arrange racks in upper and middle thirds of oven and preheat to 450 F. Whisk remaining egg with two teaspoons of water and brush dough rounds all over with egg wash.
6. Transfer baking sheets to oven; turn oven off. After 10 minutes, heat oven to 350 F and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate pans front to back and top to bottom; continue baking until deep golden brown all over, about 10 minutes longer (puffs will deflate if removed from oven before fully baked). Transfer puffs to a wire rack and let cool completely.
7. Using a serrated knife, gently slice the top quarter off each puff; transfer tops to a plate. With your finger, gently push down the soft film of cooked dough inside each puff.
8 Prepare a second pastry bag (or freezer bag) with 1/2-inch open-star tip. Beat heavy cream and remaining two tbsp. sugar in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Spoon whipped cream into prepared pastry bag. Fill each puff with cream, finishing with a generous ring of cream on top. Dust tops of cream puffs with powdered sugar; place atop puffs.
— Megan Cui
Adapted from: allrecipes.com
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