Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day Treats

First off Happy Valentine's Day Everyone!! 

I'm not really one to gush online about my love life- but I am pretty happy to be celebrating Valentine's this year. I do understand completely however, the flip side of the coin and how annoying a holiday about couples and love can be for someone who is single. So what's the redeeming quality of this holiday if you are a me not a we? Chocolate. I'm pretty sure that candies and chocolate are just as yummy no matter your relationship status. This weekend I went wine tasting with a few girlfriends and put together little treat boxes with a cupcake, chocolates and strawberries. As I was coming out of the grocery store after picking up my baking supplies I was jumped by two girl scouts and ended up with an unplanned box of thin mints, which ended up working their way into my recipes. I made thin mint chocolate hearts, and berry cupcakes with vanilla frosting and thin mint crumbles on top. (side note: apparently the girl scouts have been hit by the recession too- this article says they are only selling 6 varieties of cookies now, and there are less cookies in each box. More research online led me to find that my beloved thin mints have 8 less cookies in the box now then they did when I was a girl scout.)

Thin Mint Chocolate Hearts
Whenever I make something with molded chocolate people are overly impressed for how easy it is! Molds for chocolate come in millions of shapes, and are very inexpensive (the heart shape mold that I got from Michael's was only 99 cents). Melting chocolates come in tons of flavors (I went with traditional white chocolate and dark chocolate) and can be melted in the microwave, no messy double boiler needed. Before pouring into the molds I crushed up some thin mints and mixed them into the chocolate, then spooned into the molds, popped in the freezer, and 10 minutes later I had custom chocolate candy! Seriously its that easy, doesn't make a mess in the kitchen, and takes less then 15 minutes start to finish.

Berry Cupcakes
I had a co-worker at a previous job that would always make the best cakes. Her secret was using fruit juice instead of water in boxed cake mix. I bought a box of strawberry cake mix, and swapped out the water for a mixed berry juice. The cupcakes ended up a soft pink color- but could be easily doctored up with a few drops of food coloring for something bolder. I topped them with plain vanilla frosting and then sprinkled the thin mint crumbles on top. I swear- all you have to do it put something on top of your cupcakes in addition to the frosting and your cupcakes go from regular to wow.

That's it for Valentine's treats. I'll be taking the night off from cooking and heading up to Azul in La Jolla, a restaurant I've been wanting to try since I moved to San Diego. Needless to say I'm excited!

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