I used to hate Valentine's Day, for all of its forced romance. But my children have made me love it: their enthusiasm for decorating the house, for hand-made Valentine cards, and for sweets is utterly contagious.
It's that last category that they probably love most. What kid doesn't!? Red and pink is my favorite color combination, so I make sure that features on almost all baked goods. Here are three (super easy!) favorites that Grace, Whit, and I love; they all make for fun projects for the kids:
1. Chocolate-dipped pretzel sticks. Melt milk or white chocolate over a double boiler (put one pot inside a larger one with some water in it) to gently melt the chocolate. Stir frequently. When the chocolate is melted, dip pretzel sticks one at a time. I use a spoon to bring the chocolate up the pretzel until about 2/3 is covered. Twirl the pretzel to cover all around and place pretzel on a parchment paper covered baking sheet. Shake sprinkles over the still-soft chocolate. Put them somewhere cool (fridge works, but so does a basement) to harden. These look cute standing up in a cup or glass.
2. Pink rice krispie treats. In a large saucepan melt 3 tablespoons of butter and then add 4 cups of mini-marshmallows. Stir constantly until the marshmallow becomes liquid. Add drops of red food coloring to your desired level of pink or red and stir to blend. Add 6 cups of rice krispies and mix together until they are all coated and sticky. Press into a 13 x 9 pan (I spray my hands with canola oil) and let cool. Sometimes, I cut these out with a heart cookie cutter.
3. Heart cake for breakfast. It's now one of my traditions to present Grace and Whit with cake for breakfast on Valentine's Day. I know it's not nutritious but the sheer joy on their face is worth it; I love it and imagine they will remember those mornings for a long time.
I use yellow boxed cake mix, but I always doctor it a bit, using 4 eggs instead of the 2 the box calls for and substituting milk for water and melted butter for oil. It tastes delicious! You don't need a special pan to make this cake. Make one square (8x8) and one round (8x8) cake (the box makes two layers so it's the perfect amount). Once the cakes are baked and cooled, cut the circle into halves. Turn the square so that one corner points down, towards you. One half of each circle goes on each of the top two sides of the square. Voila, a heart! Frost accordingly!
Image credits: Lindsey Mead