February 9, 2011 11:05:00 AM
Jan Swoope - [email protected]
There''s just something about Valentine''s Day. From the first little sack "mail box" we decorated and taped to our elementary school desks for classmates to drop their Valentines in, we were hooked. Now, all grown up, we still love to be remembered -- and to remember those we care about.
Hearts and flowers are all well and good for saying "You''re special," but there is something mighty sweet about a Valentine you can eat. Whether it''s for the love of our life, our children, or friends, saying "I love you" with something delicious never goes amiss.
Cookies are a popular way to butter up a sweetheart.
For bakers like Diane Earwood of Columbus, with her home-based Cookies, Etc., business, Cupid''s holiday always triggers a flurry of orders, for parties, classrooms and happies. Diane has more cookie cutters than she can count, but the tried-and-true heart gets a real workout this time of year. Armed with plenty of pink, white and red icing, she will be busy in the kitchen right up until Feb. 14.
The plump red strawberry seems made Valentine''s Day. So do bouquets of flowers. But with today''s Berry Sweet Bouquet recipe from www.familyfun.go.com, you can cover "sweet" and "floral" in one impressive gesture. Wooden skewers, candy melts, some stems of mint and a touch of food coloring can transform a dozen strawberries into a dozen "roses."
Or, for a romantic dinner for two -- or dinner party for 12 -- you may want to try strawberries filled with cream. Made with mascarpone cheese, whipping cream, sugar and vanilla extract, these "petaled" strawberries can add pretty to any table. Mascarpone is a soft, unripened cheese from Switzerland and Italy. It is sweet and buttery-rich, and has the texture of clotted or sour cream. Produced mainly in the fall and winter, it''s usually found in specialty food stores and in the deli sections of some grocery stores.
One unique cookie variation to try at home tells your fortune and tastes good, too. Valentine fortune cookies (recipe included) are simpler than you may think. Kids especially will love these treats made with a piecrust, cookie cutter, colored sugar and your own creative writing skills.
Ideas for the day
Making Feb. 14 special means making it memorable. After deciding how to impress your Valentine''s tastebuds, you may want to consider small gestures, like these below, that add to the enjoyment of the day.
When all is said and done, expressing love and affection is what Valentine''s Day is all about. And in the end, it''s not so much how we do it, but that we do it.
BERRY SWEET BOUQUET
12 wooden skewers
Green food coloring
12 large strawberries
14 ounces of candy melts
(Source: www.familyfun.go. com/valentines-day)
STRAWBERRIES FILLED WITH CREAM
16-18 large strawberries
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
2-3 tablespoons granulated white sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
VALENTINE FORTUNE COOKIES
Makes abut 16 cookies.
Chilled 9-inch piecrust
3-inch wide round cookie cutter or drinking glass
Rolling pin or glass
Slips of paper
Makes 16 2-inch squares, or slightly smaller hearts
4 tablespoons butter, plus extra for pan
3/4 cup evaporated milk
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
One 12-ounce bag semisweet chocolate chips
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.