Valentine’s Day Baking & Decorating Tips
When you think of Valentine's Day, it's only natural to envision hearts, cherubs, red roses and piles of cards, but the holiday itself is ancient. No one knows exactly who St. Valentine actually was. To date there are several historical contenders for the title. In the 21st century though, we see him as the emissary of romance, and the inspiration for sweet and savory recipes designed to reflect our feelings. Let's take a look at some Valentine's Day baking tips for the perfect recipe to enjoy with a loved one, or even on your own.
Since cookies and cupcakes are among the most popular baked dessert options these days, they're a natural for Valentine's Day gift giving, dinner menus and party treats. Creating one of these two classic desserts makes a lot of sense. It's easy to find bakeware and cookie cutters in heart, cherub and flower shapes at craft stores, and your local grocery stores and retail stores will also likely carry them within a month or so before Valentine’s Day. Here are some touches and suggestions that will help transform you into an accomplished baker -- for a day, at least:
- Looking for an easy but impressive Valentine’s Day baked dessert? Try a layer cake made using a heart shaped pan. Bake two or more heart shaped cakes to create multi-colored layers. White vanilla, pink strawberry and multi-colored funfetti cakes mixes can be baked separately, then stacked to create a white and pink, tiered heart-shaped cake.
- Prepared mixes as well as specialty tins and pans are often readily available at your favorite grocery store.
- To keep potential problems to a minimum, plan dessert well in advance, and have a strategy for serving it efficiently. You’ll have time to buy ingredients, perfect your recipe, and start over again if something does go wrong.
- Invest in fiberglass and silicone pan liners or parchment paper to avoid burning the undersides of your special creations.
- Make sure all your bakeware has the same (light or dark) finish. Mixing finishes will alter cooking times and create problems.
- Turn aluminum pans 180 degrees half-way through cooking to promote even browning.
- Elevate cookies and cakes on wire racks when they come out of the oven to encourage quick cooling and less crumbling. Your specialty shaped baked goods won’t have the impact you intended if they crumble the moment they’re touched.
- For chocolate chip cookies that are moist inside but crispy outside, spoon the dough onto the baking sheets, and then freeze the pans and dough before baking. It's the best way to achieve a chewy and crunchy texture in the same scrumptious cookie.
- If you're after a dessert selection that will look good even if you aren't an experienced baker, a basic cupcake or cookie recipe coupled with a specialty muffin tin or cookie cutter is definitely the way to go. A festive container can go a long way to dressing up even the simplest baked goods. Add prepared icing and some red sprinkles and you're done.
- Since dessert follows a meal, it's the culmination of a number of factors. You won't find mood lighting, a nicely set table and soft music in any dessert recipe, but they all contribute to a romantic and relaxing atmosphere. That mellow mood will set the stage for your wonderful dessert and any other activities you may have planned for the evening.
- Don't know what cookie recipe to choose? Try a basic sugar cookie and dress it up with frosting.
- Use decorative cupcake liners for a finished look. Plain red, pink and white liners are perfect for laid back Valentine’s Day gatherings, while red and black liners fit right in at formal Valentine’s Day events.
- Turn your cookies into very special gifts by inserting lollipop sticks into them before baking. You'll create portable presents with creative flair.
- Strawberries dipped in chocolate may be common, but this style of impromptu candy making has real potential. It's amazing how much fun a couple can have with a pot of melted chocolate fondue or a chocolate waterfall (home units are available online). Chocolate covered marshmallows, graham crackers, potato chips, pretzels, pineapple, kiwi and banana are just some of the many options. With no actual baking required, decorating this Valentine’s Day dessert is fun and quick.
A romantic dessert course should look pretty effortless, and if you're in the kitchen cursing the jammed whipped cream nozzle when he leans in to whisper he loves you, it could put a damper on the proceedings. After all, when the meal's over, you'll still want some energy in reserve for a romantic stroll in the moonlight. Use these simple baking and decorating tips to help keep your cooking and your holiday going smoothly.