On Instagram this month, I am posting a heart a day, #amonthofhearts. AllSparkledUpDesign . Today is Day 23 and I thought it would be fun to share the full size image here. I’ve had most of these charms since my childhood and some go back to my mother’s childhood. Some are old Cracker Jack prizes, some are homemade. My granddaughter and I spent a couple enjoyable hours placing these charms in heart shape for this photo. Click on the image to access the full size. At the end of the month, I’ll post the rest of the photos here as well. Enjoy!
If you follow me on Instagram, AllSparkledUpDesign, you know I’m posting A Month of Hearts. Today is Day 14 and there are 14 days of hearts to go! Here are the hearts I’ve posted so far. Make sure you check instagram so you can read all the captions that go with these photos. Love to you all!
14 Happy Valentine’s Day!
Last year we made shortbread hearts. You can see that post with the recipe here.
Today I’m baking cherry raspberry tarts. It was Valentine’s Day 1974 and I arrived home from school to a wonderful surprise. My mom had made heart-shaped tarts filled with a pink fluffy cherry filling of cherry jello and cool whip. Ever since then, my must-have Valentine’s dessert is tarts… but I’ve never made them. I was always too busy or didn’t have the ingredients. I’ve made cherry tarts just a handful of times all these years but never on Valentine’s Day. Today will be the day!
Happy Valentine’s Day to you all! May your day be full of sweetness that lingers in the most pleasant way.
I am slowly collecting the most amazing valentines. I will be displaying these in a wood bowl on the coffee table next February. Next year, it might be a terra cotta Valentine…
Last year, he made me a Welded Valentine of steel.
This year he worked with electronics.
He put on safety glasses and …
Then he gave me a Circuit Board Valentine!
They were delicious! We kept it simple and made just two recipes: Shortbread Hearts and Cherry Cordial Cookies.
The Cherry Cordial Cookies recipe was from a Chocolatier magazine from years ago. I cut out the recipe and taped it into my recipe notebook. I should have written down the year but it was probably from the 80’s.
The Shortbread Hearts were made by slightly adapting our traditional Scottish Shortbread recipe. The recipe was handed down from relatives in Scotland for ages. The usual form is patted out into two rounds or pressed into a 9″ x 13″ pan and cut into squares. We always do the square thing just for simplicity.
Here is the original Shortbread Recipe, which takes just 4 ingredients.
1 lb butter (Note: We use 1 1/2 cups of unsalted butter and 1/2 cup of salted butter for best flavor)
1 1/4 cup fine sugar (Note: We use granulated sugar and process it in a food processor until it is less grainy. It should be half-way between granulated sugar and powdered sugar in texture when you pinch a little bit between your fingers.)
1 1/4 cup cornstarch (Note: Various Scottish relations argue over whether this should be rice flour or not. We stick with corn starch because we like the melt-in-your mouth texture of the baked shortbread.)
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour (Note: We always use unbleached King Arthur flour for best texture and flavor.)
~ Knead ingredients by hand. (…um… we use a mixer…faster and way less messy!)
~ Press into a 9″x13″ pan.
~ Prick dough all over with a fork.
~ Bake at 325 for 50 to 60 minutes. The edges will be light golden brown but the top will still be pale. We usually break open a tiny bit in the middle of the pan to test for doneness in the middle, since these are very thick squares.
~ Cut while warm into 1″ squares.
~ Store at room temp for a couple days. Refrigerate air tight for several weeks. May be frozen, wrapped air tight, for over a month. (We’ve found shortbread in the freezer six months later and it was perfectly fine. It just has to be wrapped well in plastic wrap and then in foil to avoid picking up any off-flavor from the freezer.)
To make the heart shaped shortbread cookies, we added about 1/4 cup extra flour to the recipe to make the dough a little stiffer. The Valentines Day Conversation Heart Cookie Cutters were from Williams Sonoma.
I didn’t take any photos when we made the Cherry Cordial Cookies but here is the recipe as printed in the magazine.
Cherry Cordial Cookies
1 pkg Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (NOTE: The recipe does not specify the size of bag. 1 cup of chips are used in the cookie dough and the “remaining cup chips” are used in the frosting.)
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups unsifted flour (We use King Arthur unbleached flour)
1 tsp baking powder
1 jar (16 oz) maraschino cherries
~ In double boiler, melt 1 cup chocolate chips over 1-inch simmering water.
~ Cream 1/2 cup butter with sugar.
~ Add egg, vanilla and melted chocolate; beat until smooth.
~ Combine flour with baking powder and salt (NOTE: salt is not listed in the ingredients so we figure this was a printing error. We use 1/4 tsp salt); add to creamed mixture, beating until smooth. Chill at least 1 hour.
~ Enclose 1 cherry in 1 tablespoon of dough.
[NOTE: Enclosing that cherry in the dough takes a lot of work! The dough is fairly dry so it has to be squished around the cherry, it can’t be rolled and folded around the cherry. We drain the cherries while the dough is chilling, otherwise, the dough becomes a gooey mess when trying to squeeze it around a squishy cherry. We put a tablespoon of dough in the palm and pressed a little hole in the middle of it to start. Then the cherry was placed into the hole and the crumbly mixture was pressed up over the cherry. Then we carefully squished the whole lump in our fists to close it all up good and tight. Finally, we gently rolled around the lump to make a nice round ball.]
~ Place on greased baking sheet. (Note: we used ungreased, parchment paper-lined baking sheets.)
~ Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 14 minutes. (ours took exactly 15 minutes)
~ Cool on wire rack.
Melt remaining cup chocolate chips with 2 Tbsp maraschino cherry syrup and 1 Tbsp unsalted butter.
(NOTE: We used 1 Tbsp kirsch and 1 Tbsp maraschino cherry syrup)
Frost tops of cookies.
YIELD: 3 1/2 dozen cookies.
It was so tedious forming the Cherry Cordial Cookies that we vowed we would never make them again. But then when we bit into the deep dark chocolate cookie and tasted the exquisite cherry buried within, we decided to make these cookies our new Valentine’s Day tradition.
One day we made the Gingerbread Hearts.
Another day, we decorated the gingerbread.
And then came the day to eat the last of the Gingerbread Hearts.
She did NOT want her picture taken and was very insistent about it. She turned away, she pouted. She just wanted to enjoy the tea, without having to hold still, without having to wait, without looking up to see a big black lens where Grandma’s face should be. I agreed. But I managed to take a couple.
We talked. We stirred our tea. We savored the spicy gingerbread.
Eating the last of the Valentine Gingerbread.
We are still nibbling at the Valentine Candy Bouquet. It is delicious but very, very sweet. At this rate, it may hang on till Easter! Oh my! I do love the sparkling look of it though.
Here are directions on making the bouquet.
1. Cut Styrofoam to fit tightly in the bottom of a basket. Secure it firmly in the basket so it won’t shift or move at all.
2. Spread out a set of battery operated bouquet or centerpiece lights over the Styrofoam in the basket. I purchased this light set at either Michael’s or A.C.Moore several years ago. Alas, I do not know if these lights are still made or sold elsewhere. Insert toothpicks around the light set in the area where the ball will be placed.
3. Cut off a slice of a 5” Styrofoam ball so it can sit flat. Press the Styrofoam ball down firmly onto the toothpicks. Insert several other toothpicks around the base of the ball to secure it tightly. Trim toothpick ends with wire cutters.
Prepare the candy.
5. To make Conversation Heart Batons, use royal icing to secure conversation hearts to a lollipop stick. When dry, pipe royal icing between the hearts and sprinkle with mini sprinkles. Tie a bow at the base with an 8” piece of ribbon; trim the ends.
6a. For candies with square wrappers, twist one end of wrappers and wire three candies together.
6b. Twist the candy bundle together around the end of a lollipop stick and secure with the wire. Tie with an 8” length of ribbon.
7. Cut a heart from gold paper, punch a small hole at the top and write a message. Tie a piece of lace and the gold heart to a lollipop with string.
8. Prepare cake pops as desired. I made chocolate cake pops by following the directions in Bakerella’s Cake Pops cookbook and using homemade frosting instead of store-bought frosting. These were the first cake pops I’ve ever made so mine were a little lumpy. But I was really happy they turned out and they are delicious!
9. Cake Pop secret – use lots of sprinkles to cover up mistakes.
10. To help disguise the printed text at the base of lollipop wrappers, cut a fringe in the wrapper. Tie with a bow or twist tie.
11. I ended up not adding these to the bouquet. They looked very pretty in a glass dish next to the bouquet.
Assemble the centerpiece.
12. Using wire cutters, cut the end of one candy stick to make a slight point and insert it into the Styrofoam ball to see if you like the length. Remove the stick from the Styrofoam and adjust the length as desired. Cut sticks and insert candies, starting with the candy of which you have the fewest. I only had 8 sticks of rock candy so I inserted them first to evenly distribute them.
13. Start in the center and work your way out as you fill the bouquet. Cut some sticks shorter so the candies help cover the Styrofoam ball. Next time I will make more of the little candy bundles to fill in the base better. I made 11 but 14 would have been better.
14. If desired, fill in any remaining spots on the Styrofoam ball with ribbon or tulle bows on wires. You can also use green gumdrop leaves, tissue paper or artificial flowers and leaves. I decided to leave the center open so the light set would light up the candy more.
To make ahead, the cake balls can be prepared a day or two ahead, as recommended in Bakerella’s cookbook. This bouquet was made on Valentine’s Day and then refrigerated that night, covered with plastic wrap for storage. It is one week later and the bouquet still looks wonderful and the cake pops are every bit as delicious, especially cold. Next year, I’ll prepare the cake pops several days before, refrigerating them until needed. The candies can be prepared well in advance and set aside. Allow an hour or so to insert all the prepared candies and cake pops.
In addition to holidays, a Candy Bouquet would look lovely for a Baby or Bridal shower, or as a Birthday centerpiece.
On Valentine’s Day, my 18 year old surprised me with a Valentine he made. He attends Welding School, where he is learning to weld. I can’t imagine what the other men thought of his project, which makes the Valentine all the more precious to me. Now that is LOVE. I will keep this Valentine forever! Well, made of heavy steel, it will probably last forever too.
I’m quite happy to finally finish my Cascade Heart Wreath, Garden theme. This is the first of four Cascade Heart Wreaths I’m making, all completely different in color and style. But they all start with a Styrofoam frame forming the top of the heart and a cascade of hanging trim forming the lower part of the heart. I have been wanting a heart shaped wreath for some time now but wanted a more organic, flowing design. Making a heart with a cascade bottom was the perfect solution. An unexpected bonus: when the cascade is made of lighter material, it flutters with air movement. Having that movement is soothing to me, like a gentle spring breeze catching leaves.
This wreath reminds me of the kind of garden you would discover at the edge of property, not always tended, sometimes forgotten, a little bit wild but still beautiful. Pockets of little stones are scattered around the mossy knoll and the picket fence is a perfect resting spot for a baby bird. I adore swings and decided this garden needed a secret swing, hidden in the ivy.
To see the tutorial for making a Cascade Heart Wreath, click for more.