From Scratch with Love: 3 Valentine's Day Treats
Nothing says love like homemade treats. These treats look like you poured your heart into them, but are easier to make than you might imagine. By investing just a little time you can take your treats from ordinary to unexpected.
White Chocolate Dipped Rice Cereal Treats
Rice cereal treats are always a hit. Elevate your presentation for Valentine’s Day by dipping them in colored white chocolate. Top some with colorful sprinkles for even more impact.
Before you start:
White chocolate can be temperamental. Melt it in heatproof bowl over about ½” of barely simmering water. The key is to keep the heat low. Too much heat will result in a seized-up glob of unusable mess. Likewise, do not allow any water to get into the chocolate while melting.
Gel colors are acceptable, but for best results use powdered food color. You can find it at many craft stores or at a cake supply shop. Do not use the liquid color commonly found in supermarkets.
You should be able to find silicone molds at many mass retailers. If you can’t, you can press the treats into a cookie cutter, but you will have to repeat the process many times.
White chocolate is really more off-white. To brighten it up I use white food dye, but you can omit that if you wish.
I used the remaining chocolate from each color to make the heart decoration for the cake below. If you are making that, just pour the chocolate into a heart cookie cutter placed on parchment paper. Allow it to harden and then transfer to the freezer for a few minutes. When frozen it will pop right out of the mold.
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 10 ounces marshmallows
- 6 cups rice cereal
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 cups white chocolate chips
- red, pink, and white food color
- Lightly spray X, O, and heart silicone molds with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Melt the butter in a large pot over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir to coat with butter. Stir occasionally until marshmallows are completely melted. Add vanilla and stir until well combined.
- Remove from the heat, add the cereal, and stir to coat completely.
- Press the mixture into the molds. Place the molds on a baking sheet and put them in the freezer to harden for 30 minutes. Release the treats from the molds just before you are ready to decorate them.
- Place 1 cup of white chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl over a small saucepan with about ½” of barely simmering water. Stir frequently until chocolate begins to melt. Add one of the food dyes (about ¼ teaspoon or to your preference) and stir until the chocolate is completely melted and the color is consistent. Remove from the heat.
- Dip the rice cereal treats in the chocolate and smooth out the tops with a knife or back of a spoon. Place them, undipped side down, on a wire rack over a baking sheet. Top some of the dipped treats with sprinkles. Repeat for the other colors.
- Allow to harden completely before serving. Store in an airtight container.
Chocolate Dipped Strawberries
These are always a hit. With just a few tips you can turn out professional looking berries and wow your recipient.
Before you start:
To create berries without a ‘foot’ of chocolate follow the instructions below. You will need toothpicks and a sheet of styrofoam.
Cold berries will help the chocolate set faster. Keep them in the fridge with a damp paper towel over the leaves to keep them from drying out.
- 1 pound of fresh strawberries
- 8 ounces quality chocolate
- 6 ounces white chocolate
- Wash and dry berries. Set aside.
- Melt all but ¼ cup of chocolate in a heatproof bowl over ½” of simmering water in a small saucepan. Stir until completely melted. Remove from the heat and add the remaining chocolate. Stir until melted.
- Insert a toothpick about 1” into the top of a berry. Hold the leaves and the toothpick together and dip into the chocolate. Gently shake off excess chocolate and invert the berry. Insert the free end of the toothpick into a sheet of styrofoam and allow to harden completely.
- Melt the white chocolate (and dye with powdered food color, if desired) by placing in a heatproof bowl over ½” of barely simmering water in a small saucepan. Use a fork to decorate the berries by drizzling the white chocolate over the berries over a wire rack with a baking sheet below. Add sprinkles as desired to wet, white chocolate and shake off excess. Lay the finished berries on parchment paper and remove the toothpick. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
Strawberry Filled Cake
This crowd pleaser is as beautiful as it is pretty. Take a simple cake mix to new heights with this three-tiered Valentine’s dessert.
Before you start:
I used a boxed cake mix for this recipe, but you can make the cake from scratch if you prefer.
The buttercream is rich and thick. You can use a store bought version, but the consistency is not quite the same and you will need many tubs. If you are buying the frosting, get more than you think you will need. It’s always better to have too much frosting than too little.
If you want to put the white chocolate heart decoration on the top of the cake see the instructions from the dipped rice cereal treats above.
I baked the cakes in three pans. I think it looks more special and gives you an opportunity to introduce more of the strawberry element.
When decorating cakes, the freezer is your friend. Be sure to make room for the cakes before beginning the decorating process.
The crumb coat is essential to making sure you have a professional looking product. Don’t skip this step.
- 1 white cake mix (and associated ingredients)
- 1½ cups strawberry preserves
- 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup shortening
- 7 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- pink food dye
- Bake the cakes as directed, but split the batter over 3 round cake pans. Be sure to grease the pans and dust with flour. Add a round of parchment paper to the bottom for extra measure.
- Cool the cakes completely on a wire rack and then remove the parchment paper round from the bottom of the cake. Place the cakes on parchment lined baking sheets and place in the freezer for at least 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, add the butter and shortening to a bowl and beat on medium speed until smooth and fully blended. Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat on the lowest speed until all sugar is moistened. Add the almond extract and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes).
- Remove the cakes from the freezer. Transfer about 1½ cups of the frosting to a small bowl. Using a knife or offset spatula, apply a very thin coat of frosting (crumb coat) to the cakes. Use the icing from the small bowl for this to avoid getting crumbs in the other frosting. Return the cakes to the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
- Remove two of the cakes again. Add ¾ cup of strawberry preserves to the top of each of the layers and smooth it out evenly over the surface all the way to the edges. Return the cakes to the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
- Remove all of the cakes and place one of the strawberry topped layers on a platter or cake stand with just a bit of frosting beneath the layer to keep the cake in place. Add the other strawberry topped layer and finally the top layer.
- Begin frosting the cake by adding a generous amount of frosting to the side of the cake. Use an offset spatula to make a smooth, even layer of frosting all the way around the cake. Add a generous amount of frosting to the top of the cake and smooth it out evenly over the top and extending slightly beyond the edges.
- Scrape the spatula clean and dip it in a glass of water. Use the wet spatula to smooth out the top and make it flat, scraping and dipping the spatula as needed.
- Continue scraping and dipping the spatula to smooth out the side of the cake and removing the excess from the top edge. Adorn the cake with sprinkles and top with decoration. Place the cake in the refrigerator until ready to serve.