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Sweet Treats For Your Valentine

Contributor Kiersten Blanchard shares a few of her favorites.


"Love"ly Lollipops

Needed:
Candy Canes*
Lollipop Sticks (6 or 8-inch)
Almond bark or vanilla candy melts/chips
Wax paper
Valentine sprinkles
Lollipop bags and ties

* You can use small or regular-size candy canes. Small are the easiest to get out of their wrappers. For the small, use 6-inch lollipop sticks. If you use regular candy canes, you'll need to break the bottom off each to make the heart shape. Use the 8-inch stick for them.

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350° F.

Place two candy canes in a heart shape on a greased cookie sheet (or one covered with a non-stick baking mat). Put a sucker stick in between the two candy canes so that it goes through the bottom point all the way to the top point of the heart. Start with 8 suckers per sheet so that you can shape them before they cool and re-harden.

Put the cookie sheet in the oven and watch the candy canes closely. They will begin to bubble and melt in 3-5 minutes. When this occurs, remove them from the oven and pinch the ends of the candy canes together at the top and bottom of each sucker to form a heart. THE CANDY CANES WILL BE HOT, so do this carefully. (I used a butter knife to help shape them.) Let the candy canes cool completely. Transfer onto wax paper.

Melt almond bark or candy melts in the microwave, following the directions on the package so that it doesn't burn. Pour some into the center of each sucker and use a spoon to smooth it in each heart. Add sprinkles before the center hardens. Let the bark harden and then package for your valentine.

Fun Variation: Snip a couple inches off of each stick and place through the center of a frosted cupcake for a cute topper.



Sweetheart Grahams

Needed:
Graham crackers
Vanilla frosting
Almond bark or vanilla candy melts
Wax paper
Large conversation hearts or gummy valentine candy
Cellophane bags for packaging

Directions:
Frost two graham crackers (halves or whole) together using thick vanilla frosting. You don't want the frosting oozing out the sides. Set aside.

In a rectangular glass pan large enough to fit a graham cracker, melt the almond bark, following the directions on the package so that it doesn't burn. Dip each frosted graham completely in the almond bark and place on wax paper. Before the bark hardens completely, use a knife edge to imprint in the bark, making it look like the back of an envelope. Then decorate it with valentine candy to look like a seal. Let cool completely and package your Sweetheart Graham for special delivery.

Note: Don't make these too far in advance. After several days the almond bark may crack.



Conversation Cupcakes

Needed:
Chocolate cupcakes (unfrosted)
Chocolate glaze or premade chocolate fudge frosting (see Chocolate Glaze recipe below)
Vanilla frosting
Pastry bag with small round tip or plastic freezer bag with corner snipped

Directions:
Dip the top of each cupcake in chocolate glaze or frosting. (If using frosting, transfer to a microwave-safe bowl and microwave at 10-second intervals. Stir between each interval. Repeat until the frosting is thin enough to pour.) Gently shake off excess before turning upright. Allow to set.

Using vanilla frosting, pipe a favorite Valentine message onto the top of each cupcake. You may need to warm the frosting a little to make it thin enough for writing.

Chocolate Glaze (from marthastewart.com)
2/3 c. heavy cream
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 T. corn syrup

Heat cream over medium heat. In a small separate bowl, place chocolate and corn syrup. Pour heated cream over chocolate and mix until smooth.

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