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Heart to heart: homemade goodies and heart-shaped treasures are the special ingredients in this Valentine's basket.

I share some treasured memories with a dear friend when we get together in February and make the most wonderful fanciful baskets filled with small delightful treats to celebrate Valentine's Day. These special baskets show appreciation and love for teachers, grandmothers, daughters, or friends and go well beyond a box of candy and flowers.

Each individually wrapped treat peeks from within a cellophane tent nestled safely on a bed of confetti. Of course, things that are pink or in the shape of a heart are perfect gifts. You will have so much fun discovering the many small heart-shaped happies available, such as paperweights, picture frames, sunglasses, playing cards, cookie cutters, soaps, notepads, and jewelry boxes. Place each gift in a small cellophane bag with confetti and ribbons, and place it inside the basket.

Don't forget a few packages of homemade cookies and candies. Here are a few recipes for some easy and delicious treats that you must include. Now ask a friend over, and enjoy baking cookies, making candy and creating these special valentines for those you love and appreciate.

LOVE KNOTS (shown above)
60 pecan halves, toasted
1 13-ounce) bag Rolo caramels in
 milk chocolate (about 60 pieces)
1 (15-ounce) bag tiny twist pretzels

Toast pecans in a single layer on
a cookie sheet in a 350-degree oven
for 10-15 minutes or until lightly
browned and fragrant. Set aside.

Heat oven to 300 degrees. Unwrap
Rolo candies, and place each candy
on top of a tiny twist pretzel on a
foil-tined baking sheet. Heat in oven
for about 3 minutes or until Rolos
begin to melt. Remove from oven,
and immediately press a toasted
pecan on top of each Rolo. Remove
to waxed paper. Store in a sealed tin.
Yield: about 60 love knots.


Clara Higginbotham

Pearl

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EASY CANDY STRAWBERRIES (shown at right)
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened
 condensed milk
1 cup almonds, ground
1 pound shredded coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon red food coloring
2 (3-ounce) packages strawberry gelatin
1 tube green icing or fresh mint leaves

Combine condensed milk, almonds,
coconut, vanilla, food coloring, and 1
package gelatin in a bowl, and mix well.
Chill for 2-3 hours or overnight. Shape
into small strawberry shapes, and roll in
remaining box of gelatin. Make stems
and leaves from green icing, or use fresh
mint leaves. Layer strawberries between
waxed paper, and store in an airtight
container. Yield: about 36 pieces.


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HEART SUGAR COOKIES (shown above)
2 cups all-propose flow
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon evaporated milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt,
and set aside. Cream butter and sugar. Add egg, milk, and vanilla.
Add flour mixture. Roll out to about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick, and cut
into hearts. Bake for about 15 minutes. Do not overbake. Top with Glaze.
Yield: 16-24 cookies.

GLAZE:

2 cups confectioner's sugar
1/4 stick margarine
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
A few drops red food coloring

Mix together all ingredients. Brush over cookies.


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ALMOND THUMBPRINT COOKIES (shown at bottom left)
1 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon almond flavoring
3/4 cup almonds, very finely chopped (use
 food processor)
Strawberry jelly or jam

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cream butter
and sugar. Add flour and salt, and mix well.
Stir in almond flavoring. Shape into small
balls, roll in almonds, and press in the center
with thumb. Spoon a small amount of jelly
or jam in the indention. Bake for 12-15 minutes
or until slightly browned. Yield: about 3
dozen small cookies.


[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

EASY TURTLES (shown far left)
72 pecan halves
24 caramels, unwrapped
6 ounces almond bark
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. On a
greased baking sheet, arrange pecan halves
in groups of three (end to end), flat sides
down. Place a caramel on top of each cluster
of pecans. Place hr oven until caramels
soften, about 5-8 minutes. Remove from
oven, and flatten each caramel with a
buttered spoon. Cool slightly.

Place almond bark and chocolate chips
in a microwave-safe dish; heat on low at
2-minute intervals until chocolate is melted.
Dip turtles in chocolate to coat; cool on
waxed paper. Store in a tightly covered
container in a cool place. Yield: 24 turtles.


[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

EASY CARAMELS (shown below)
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened
 condensed milk
1 cup light corn syrup
2 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 cup butter
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla
3/4 cup pecans, finely chopped

Combine condensed milk, corn syrup,
brown sugar, butter, and salt in a 2-quart
microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high
for 4 minutes or until butter is melted. Stir
until mixture is well-blended. Microwave
on high for 14 minutes or until mixture
reaches 245 degrees (firm-ball stage) on a
candy thermometer. Add vanilla and
pecans, and mix well. Let stand for 10
minutes. Pour into a greased 9 x 13-inch
pan. Refrigerate until cooled.

Remove candy slab to a cutting board;
cut into 1-inch squares. Wrap each piece
individually in waxed paper, twisting the
ends, or in plastic wrap, folding ends
under. Store in a tightly covered container
in a cool place. Yield: about 117 pieces.


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COPYRIGHT 2006 Downhome Publications, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2006, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:Roper, Patty
Publication:Mississippi Magazine
Date:Jan 1, 2006
Words:910
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