By Collier Curran
With the winter holidays finished–and the cold here to stay–one’s mind tends to wander, searching for, quite frankly, something to be excited about. Spring break feels like ages away, so Valentine’s Day, conveniently located in the middle of February, tends to assuage the winter blues of even the most cynical students. I personally always look forward to Valentine’s Day (despite having spent the entirety of my life so far single) because it is a day to celebrate love in all of its forms. I think of my friends, both from my hometown and from the colleges I have attended, as well as my family members and pets. I even think of the foods, the places, and the experiences I have come to love. To me, Valentine’s Day closely resembles Thanksgiving, except the food of choice is chocolate and wearing pink and red together momentarily becomes okay.
In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I have compiled a list of quick and easy recipes perfect for a night in with a significant other, great friends, or just you and Netflix (I don’t judge!).
- Chocolate Heart Peanut Butter Cookies
It is a confirmed fact that any candy in the shape of a heart tastes infinitely better than its run of the mill counterpart. In addition to binge-watching fuel, these candies can function perfectly as toppers for a basic cookie (or cupcake) recipe. Simply whip up a recipe of your choice, such as peanut butter cookies, and press a heart-shaped candy like Hershey’s hearts or Nestle Crunch hearts into the center of each cookie when they come out of the oven. For cupcakes, these hearts are adorable placed on top of the frosting. For my absolute favorite (Easy! Gluten free! Dairy free!) peanut butter cookie recipe, check out “Dairy Free Peanut Butter Cookies” from the blog Tastes Lovely. This specific recipe also makes a pretty small batch so it’s great if you’re not having too many guests.
- Chocolate-Covered Strawberries
Chocolate strawberries are such a classic, but so many people forget about them when it comes to Valentine’s parties. Don’t worry about being too “extra” by showing up with a plate of these; not only will no one be able to mock you through mouths full of chocolate and fruit, but you can feel comfortable knowing that they are so quick and easy. Simply microwave semi-sweet chocolate (I suggest a block of chocolate over chips because chips don’t melt as smoothly) in increments of 15 seconds, stirring each time, until completely melted. Then, dip in your strawberries, place them on parchment paper to set and it’s that easy! To make these even more festive, you can drizzle white chocolate (possibly dyed pink or red) on top by cutting a small hole in the corner of a ziploc bag and filling it with melted chocolate like a tiny piping bag (I recently tried this method and it was SO EASY. Check out the photo of the strawberries I made in my own kitchen!). Valentine’s sprinkles are also always a good idea.
- Sweetheart Cinnamon Rolls
This recipe is the definition of simple. All it requires is a ready-made package of cinnamon rolls and a little patience and you can have an adorable–and tasty, of course–heart-shaped breakfast. Simply take out each cinnamon roll and uncoil it, leaving the middle bit still coiled. Then, form a heart shape by coiling the other end to be equal in size. If this sounds confusing, don’t worry! The blog Lady Behind the Curtain provides very specific instructions on this method as well as pictures guiding you every step of the way. Once the cinnamon rolls are all shaped, bake them according to package directions, cover in icing (dyed pink, perhaps?) and serve. I would also suggest throwing some sprinkles on these, because what says “I love you” more than red and pink clumps of sugar?
- Valentine’s Popcorn
I think I can honestly say that this Valentine’s popcorn is one of the most festive things I’ve ever seen. With a combination of sprinkles, drizzled white chocolate, and pink and red M&Ms, this recipe is bound to make anyone believe in love again (or at the very least, want to sneak a handful or two out the door with them after the party). I am one of those people who always had to get both popcorn and Buncha Crunch at the movies growing up so I could get both sweet and salty in every bite. This popcorn channels that same flavor palette, utilizing melted white chocolate (or pink candy melts) to combat the saltiness of the buttery popcorn while also providing great sweetness. Additionally, M&Ms and cute sprinkles make the snack fun to eat and festive. One of the beauties of this concept is that you could throw in any Valentine’s candy you have lying around and the result will always be delicious.
No matter how you’re spending your V-Day (I must admit, I have a hot date with Ernest Hemingway set up by my American Literature professor), these recipes are bound to spice it up. I hope your Valentine’s Day is filled with love for all of the important people, places, and things in your life, and I will see you with my next article!