Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Edible Valentines

candy heartsSome things are just better when they are in edible form. Edible jewelry (candy necklaces and ring pops), edible flowers (natural or fruit-shaped), even edible underwear! Most humans enjoy the act of eating and that's why edible valentines are the way to go this year - especially if you go to the grocery store to find the only cards left are for couples married over fifty years and children under the age of seven. Before you break out the Crayolas and construction paper, consider making your sweetheart something he (or she) can gobble down with glee. Here are a couple of my favorites:

cookiesCookie Cutter Valentines
No longer do you have to search for the cookie cutter of your dreams, in these modern times you can make cookies in any shape you can think of, whether it is a baseball mitt or the state of Florida (no joke). Lucky for you, Valentine's Day only requires a simple heart shape that you can find almost anywhere (I particularly like this set of 6 for a measly $10).

The beauty of cookie cutters is that they'll cut through most foods, so you can basically make heart-shaped anything! Try it with sugar cookies, Jell-O, sandwiches or pancakes - the heart-shaped cookie cutter will become your new best friend on February 14. Here are some basic recipes that work well:

Valentine's Sugar Cookies - Decorate with candies, drizzled chocolate or anything else you feel like. You can also make "sandwiches" and put melted chocolate or cream filling in between two cookies.
Valentine Cutouts - Use Jell-O to jiggle your way into their hearts.
Absolute Best Pancakes - Add some fresh strawberries on top for that special Valentine's flair
Sweetheart Sandwich - PB&J, grilled cheese or anything else in sandwich form. A large, heart-shaped cookie cutter makes this an easy way to say "I love you" at lunchtime.

Pizza Valentines
Pizza in the shape of a heart? Why not? With Wilton's Non-Stick Heart-Shaped Springform Pan, it's easy to make your favorite deep dish pizza for Valentine's Day. Use our recipe for Deep Dish Pizza and let the pan put you in the mood. If you really want to spell out your love, write a note to your sweetie in olives, mushrooms or another one of his favorite toppings. If you're lucky enough to live in the Chicagoland area, pizza mogul Lou Malnati's will deliver a heart-shaped pizza to your home!


2 3/4 to 3 1/4 C. all-purpose flour
1 pkg. active dry yeast
1/4 tsp. salt
1 C. warm water (120 degrees-130 degrees)
2 Tbs. cooking oil
3/4 C. chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs. olive oil, margarine, or butter
1 14 1/2 oz. can tomatoes, cut up
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 bay leaf
1 Tbs. snipped fresh basil or 1 tsp. dried basil, crushed
1 Tbs. snipped fresh oregano or 1 tsp. dried oregano, crushed
1 tsp. fennel seed, crushed (optional)
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 lb. ground beef
1 C. chopped onion
2 medium tomatoes, very thinly sliced
6 slices bacon, cut into 2-inch pieces, crisp-cooked, and drained
3 C. shredded cheddar, American, or Cojack cheese (12 oz.)


Cook 3/4 C. chopped onion and garlic in 1 Tbs. oil. Stir in tomatoes; tomato sauce; bay leaf; basil; oregano; fennel seed, if desired; sugar; and pepper. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 35 to 40 minutes or to desired consistency, stirring occasionally. Discard bay leaf. Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine 1-1/4 C. of the flour, the yeast, and the salt. Add warm water and 2 Tbs. oil. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Using a spoon, stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough remaining flour to make a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic(6 to 8 minutes total). Divide dough in half. Cover and let rest 10 minutes. Grease two 11- to 13-inch pizza pans or baking sheets. On a lightly floured surface, roll each half of dough into a circle 1 inch larger than pizza pan. Transfer dough to pans. Build up edges slightly. Prick generously with a fork. Do not let rise.

Bake in a 425 degree oven for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Meanwhile, in a large skillet cook ground beef and the 1 C. chopped onion until meat is brown and onion is tender. Drain fat. Spread pizza sauce over hot crusts. Sprinkle with ground beef mixture. Top with tomato slices and bacon pieces. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake about 12 minutes more or until cheese melts and sauce is bubbly.

Yield: 8 servings

Pretzel Valentines
If your icing skills aren't up to par and you don't trust yourself enough to write a love note in chocolate, homemade soft pretzels are an adorable (and creative!) way to say, "Be Mine." Simply roll out the pretzel dough into letter shapes before baking and let the pretzels do the talking.

Soft Pretzels

3 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
2 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 package active dry yeast
1 C. water
1 Tbs. margarine
1 Tbs. water
1 egg yolk, beaten
Coarse salt for topping

Mix 1 C. flour, sugar, salt and undissolved yeast. Heat 1 C. water and margarine to 120 to 130 degrees. Gradually add to dry ingredients; beat 2 minutes at medium speed of mixer. Add 1/2 C. flour. Beat at high speed 2 minutes. Stir in enough additional flour to make a soft dough. On floured board, knead 5 minutes. Set in greased bowl; turn to grease top. Cover and let rise in warm, draft-free place 40 minutes. Divide dough into 12 equal pieces. Roll each into a 20-inch rope. Shape into pretzels or other shapes. Place on greased baking sheets. Cover; let rest 5 minutes. Mix egg yolk and 1 Tbs. water; brush on pretzels. Sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake at 375 degrees 15 minutes or until done. Cool on racks.

Are you a heart-shaped kitchen gadget lover? Check out these goodies:

Heart-Shaped Waffle Iron
Heart-Shaped Chocolate Fondue Set
Heart-Shaped Measuring Cups
Heart-Shaped Ravioli Pasta
Heart-Shaped Pan
Heart-Shaped Cappuccino Stencil
Sweetheart Cookie Pan
Heart-Shaped Melon Baller
Silicone Heart Sheet Mold
Pink Heart-Shaped Ramekins
Mini-Heart Cheesecake Pan
Heart Shaped Frying Pan for Eggs