Happy Valentine's


Flavor your Valentine's Day with these peppermint shortbread cookies or other recipes included today, most from local cookbooks.

Flavor your Valentine's Day with these peppermint shortbread cookies or other recipes included today, most from local cookbooks. Photo by: familyfeatures.com


Jan Swoope



In just two days, we celebrate Cupid's big day, a day devoted to expressing love and affection. The National Retail Foundation says Americans spent a record $20.7 billion expressing it last Valentine's. Predictions are the total will surpass $27 billion this time around. That's a lot of love. Many of those dollars are spent on jewelry, dinners out and flowers for significant others, but consumers also spend to let other family members, friends, children's classmates and teachers, pets and others in our circle know we appreciate them.


I personally won't be spending the average $196.31 the NRF expects each celebrating consumer to shell out, but I will be -- like many of you -- sharing the love by gifting edible happies. So, to that end, I went searching in my trove of cookbooks compiled by Golden Triangle groups over the years, scouting for recipes that suit the occasion. Several are shared today; all are from local cookbooks, with the exception of the peppermint shortbread cookies, which is from familyfeatures.com.


After you've made the goodies of your choice, you may be looking for other ways make Valentine's Day creative, yet not costly. Me, too. Here are a few suggestions:



  • The weather for Friday looks dry (finally) and seasonably cold; how about a bonfire?


  • Cover a mirror with loving sticky notes (or arrange them in a heart shape) for someone special, including the kids.


  • An all-day, or all-evening, movie marathon is fun, even better under a blanket fort.


  • Make a Valentine's Day popcorn mix by adding pink and red M&M's (plain and peanut), mini marshmallows and heart-shaped candy sprinkles.


  • For the kids, plan a little scavenger hunt, with prizes. Or cut up felt or foam heart shapes into jigsaw puzzles and give out a prize for the first to put the puzzle together.


  • Have an indoor picnic.


  • A twist on cookies: dip fortune cookies in the melted chocolate of your choice and decorate with tiny sprinkle hearts and candies.


    However you celebrate -- even if it's settling down with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate or tea -- Happy Valentine's Day 2020.





    Serves 8



    2 ounces unsweetened chocolate


    1/2 cup (1 stick) butter


    2 eggs


    7/8 cup sugar


    1/4 cup flour


    1/4 teaspoon salt


    1 teaspoon vanilla extract


    1 tablespoon dark rum, brand or bourbon


    1/2 cup chopped pecans, if desired



  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler. Beat the eggs until foamy. Slowly add the sugar and beat well.


  • Sift the flour and salt together. Stir into the batter gently.


  • Add the melted chocolate, vanilla, liquor and nuts (if desired). Bake 30 minutes. The center should be slightly puffed and the center set. Top with ice cream or whipped cream.


    (Source: Sylvia Higginbotham, "Old Southern Recipes, Remedies and Pearls of Wisdom")






    78 Kraft caramels


    2 tablespoons margarine


    2 tablespoons evaporated milk


    2 cups pecan halves


    1 (24-ounce) package milk chocolate morsels


    1/4 block paraffin



  • Heat first 3 ingredients in double boiler, or in microwave, until smooth. Stir in pecans.


  • Drop with spoon on buttered cookie sheets. Refrigerate until cool.


  • Melt chocolate chips and paraffin in microwave. Dip caramels into chocolate mixture. Cool and store in a cool place.


    (Source: Debbie Billington, "Taste and See Too" cookbook, First Baptist Church, West Point)





    (Makes about 24 candies)



    1/2 pound Kraft caramel


    2 tablespoons heavy cream


    1 cup pecans (halves or large chunks)


    1/2 package Baker's semi-sweet chocolate (4 squares)



  • Melt caramels in cream over hot water using double boiler. Cool about 10 minutes.


  • Place nuts on waxed paper in groups of three. Spoon caramel mixture over nuts, leaving tips showing. Let stand until set (about half hour).


  • Meantime, melt chocolate over hot water; cool to lukewarm and spoon over caramel clusters.


    (Source: Southern Blend II cookbook, Columbus)






    2 cups flour


    1/2 cup brown sugar


    2 teaspoons lemon juice


    1 (10-ounce) package frozen strawberries, partly thawed


    1 cup chopped nuts


    1 cup melted oleo


    2/3 cup white sugar


    1 cup Cool Whip or whipping cream



  • Mix flour,nuts, brown sugar and melted oleo. Place on cookie sheet. Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes. Stir a few times while baking. Cool.


  • Place 3/4 of crumbs in a 9-by-12-inch dish.


  • Mix lemon juice, white sugar and partly thawed strawberries. If using whipping cream, beat until stiff peaks form.


  • Fold whipped cream or Cool Whip with strawberry mixture. Pour over crumb mixture. Sprinkle remaining crumbs over top and freeze.


    (Source: Southern Blend II cookbook, Columbus)





    Prep time: 15 minutes, plus 30 minutes freeze time


    Cook time: 15 minutes


    Servings: 40



    2-2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened


    3/4 cup powdered sugar


    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


    1 teaspoon salt


    2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour


    3/4 cup peppermint crunch baking chips



  • In stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and salt until smooth. Gradually add flour and mix on low until combined. Add baking chips and continue mixing on low until fully combined.


  • On wax paper or parchment paper, form dough into 12-14-inch log and freeze at least 30 minutes, or until firm.


  • Heat oven to 350 F.


  • Cut shortbread dough into 1/4-inch slices; bake 13-15 minutes on parchment-lined baking sheets.


    (Source: Rachel Gurk, "Rachel Cooks," on behalf of Milk Means More/familyfeatures.com)



  • Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.


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