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Delight your valentines with heart-shaped foods

Lawrence Pierce
A pan of brownies go Valentine when cut into heart shapes and topped with a tiny cookie. Valentine's Pop-Tarts come together quickly with refrigerated pie crust and jam.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Get your heart-shaped cookie cutters ready. They're really the only special equipment required for these special Valentine's Day treats. Oh, and a marble ...

First, the easy and most obvious ones:

Heart-shaped toast spread with red raspberry, strawberry or cherry jam.

Heart-shaped pancakes: Place batter in pastry bag and pipe batter in heart shape on hot griddle, or cut pancakes in heart shapes after they are cooked.

Valentine sandwiches: Serve any variety on bread slices cut into hearts.

Sugar, or any other rolled cookie dough, cut with heart cookie cutters and prettily iced.

Peanut butter blossom cookies topped with heart-shaped chocolates such as Doves instead of Hershey's kisses.

Heart-dusted brownies: Cut pan of brownies into squares slightly larger than a heart cookie cutter. Place individual brownie on work surface, gently center cookie cutter on top. Dust with confectioners' sugar and remove cutter to leave a heart outline in the sugar.

Ice cream sandwiches: Place softened strawberry ice cream between two heart-shaped cookies and freeze.

Pizza: Use a tiny heart cookie cutter or freehand it to cut pepperoni slices into heart shapes. Or shape pizza crust into a heart before baking.

Linzer cookies with heart-shaped cutout center and red jam filling.

A bit more complicated:

Cinnamon roll hearts. Roll long sides of dough toward middle and slice to form heart-shaped rolls. Cheater tip: unroll refrigerated cinnamon rolls, like Pillsbury. Pinch each individual strip in the middle and roll ends to center to form hearts. Bake as directed.

Heart-shaped muffins: Turn a regular muffin pan into heart-cupcake pan with the simple addition of a marble. Placing a marble between the edge of the muffin cup and the cupcake liner before pouring in the batter creates a heart shape.

Heart-tugging treat brownies: Bake and cool brownies in oblong pan; remove from pan. Cut hearts using thick heart-shaped cutter. Ice smooth with icing and allow icing to harden for about 20 minutes. Pipe dots of cookie icing in contrasting color on top. Immediately drag a toothpick through dots to create extended heart shapes. Source: Wilton.com

Heart-shaped eggs and toast: Use a 3-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter, remove the center of a thick slice of bread, and toast it. Melt 1 1/2 teaspoons butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Place bread slice in skillet, and cook until underside is lightly browned. Add another 1 1/2 teaspoons butter and flip bread. Fit cookie cutter, coated with cooking spray, in bread's cutout heart, and crack an egg into cutter. Cover skillet, and cook until egg is set, 2 to 3 minutes. Use tongs to remove cutter. Serve with toasted heart for dipping into yolk. Source: marthastewart.com

Reach Julie Robinson at julier@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1230.Valentine's Pop-Tarts

1            package of refrigerated pie crust

Glaze:

1            cup confectioners' sugar

2            tablespoons milk

1/2         teaspoon vanilla extract

Sugar sprinkles for dusting

HEAT oven to 400 degrees F.

TRANSFER pie crusts to a lightly floured surface and cut it into 2-inch by 3-inch rectangles. Tip: Measure the pieces with a ruler, score the crust with a knife and cut it with a pizza cutter.

SPOON about 2 teaspoons of strawberry jam onto one of the rectangles, leaving about 1/4 inch of space before the edge.

USE a cookie cutter or paring knife to cut heart shapes out of the second rectangle. Place the heart rectangle over the jam and seal the edges together with the tines of a fork.

BAKE on an ungreased cookie sheet for 8 to 10 minutes. Allow to cool.

MIX the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla in a bowl and add food coloring if desired. Drizzle the glaze over the warm pop tarts and sprinkle with sanding sugar.

Source: babble.com

Cream cheese-swirled brownie hearts

2                 sticks unsalted butter, melted

6                 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

4                 eggs

2                 cup sugar

2                 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2                 tablespoons cocoa powder

1                 teaspoon baking powder

1                 teaspoon salt

1 1/4           cup all-purpose flour

6                 ounces cream cheese, softened

2                 tablespoons sugar

1                 egg yolk

1                 teaspoon vanilla extract

HEAT oven to 350 degrees.

MELT butter and chocolate together, either on stovetop or microwave. Mix together until fully combined. Cool slightly.

BEAT together eggs, vanilla, sugar and cocoa powder in a mixer until combined. Add the chocolate to the mixer and beat until just combined.

ADD baking powder, salt and flour to the chocolate mixture and mix until the batter is totally incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the bottom of the bowl to fully mix.

POUR batter into a buttered 9-by-13 baking pan.

FOR cream cheese swirl, beat cream cheese and sugar in a clean mixing bowl until it is light and fluffy. Add the egg yolk and vanilla extract and beat again until everything is completely smooth.

DOLLOP the thickened batter onto the top of the brownie batter and drag a knife throughout, swirling it in as you go. Do not overmix or the cream cheese swirl will be lost.

BAKE for 40 to 45 minutes, or until knife inserted in the batter comes out clean.

COOL completely and cut with heart-shaped cookie cutters

Quick tip: Use boxed brownie mix and omit the first eight ingredients and steps two through four.

Source: babble.com

Dried Cranberry Shortbread Hearts

Makes 18, 1 3/4-inch hearts

1                 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4              cup sifted confectioners' sugar

1                 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2                 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1/2              teaspoon salt

1/2              cup finely chopped dried cranberries or cherries

HEAT oven to 325 degrees with a rack in center.

COMBINE butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla, flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Beat with a wooden spoon until combined but not too creamy. Stir in dried cranberries.

PAT dough evenly into an 8- or 9-inch-square baking pan. Bake until just beginning to turn golden, about 20 minutes.

PLACE pan on cooling rack until cool enough to touch, about 20 minutes. Run knife around edges, remove shortbread, and transfer, right side up, to work surface.

USE 1 1/2- to 2-inch heart cookie cutter to cut out cookies. Use a paring knife to trim stray bits of cranberry from edges. Cookies will keep for 5 days at room temperature in an airtight container.

Source: marthastewart.com

Valentine's Chex Mix

Makes 22 1/2 cup servings

9                 cups Rice Chex cereal

1                 cup white vanilla baking chips

1/2              cup peanut butter

1/4              cup butter or margarine

3/4              cup powdered sugar

1/2              cup red, white and pink candy-coated chocolate candies

1/4              cup red or pink jimmies sprinkles

PLACE cereal in a large bowl. Microwave baking chips, peanut butter and butter uncovered for 1 minute to 1 minute 30 seconds, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted and smooth. Pour peanut butter mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated.

PLACE 1/2 of the cereal mixture in 1-gallon food-storage plastic bag. Add powdered sugar. Seal bag; shake until well coated. Spread on waxed paper or foil to cool, about 15 minutes.

STIR candies and sprinkles into remaining cereal mixture. Spread on waxed paper or foil to cool, about 15 minutes.

MIX both cereal mixtures in large bowl. Store in airtight container.

Source: bettycrocker.com

Monte Cristo Sandwiches

Hot ham and Swiss cheese sandwiches grilled French toast style with powdered sugar and jam turn into a valentine treat with the simple step of garnishing with a heart-shaped dollop of red raspberry jam on top of the sandwich.

Dijon mustard

4              slices country bread

Swiss cheese, thinly sliced

Ham, thinly sliced

2              eggs

1/4           cup milk

1/2           teaspoon salt

1/4           teaspoon pepper

1/8           teaspoon nutmeg

Confectioners' sugar

Raspberry preserves

PREHEAT the panini grill or skillet to medium heat.

SPREAD mustard on bread slices. Layer Swiss cheese, ham, and cheese again on two of the bread slices. Place remaining two bread slices on top.

WHISK together eggs, milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg in a shallow dish. Dip each sandwich in the egg mixture, turning to coat well.

CAREFULLY place the sandwich onto the panini grill. Close the lid and grill for 4 to 5 minutes until the bread is lightly browned and the cheese is melted.

DUST the top with confectioners' sugar and spoon a little raspberry preserves in the shape of a heart in the center or stencil little heart motif with the confectioners' sugar on top for a Valentine treat.

Source: paninihappy.com

 


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