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Treat your favorite sweeties

By Staff
The love of a child is the most precious love in the world. For that reason, even though I do like a little romance from time to time, I’m focusing on recipes that are kid friendly and just in time for Valentine’s Day.
I’ve prepared romantic meals and sinfully rich desserts for this February holiday for many years. This year, I hope to take the time to show as much love as possible to my son by spending a little time in the kitchen cooking and creating together.
The recipes here this week are ones that are fun, easy, tasty and are perfect for little helping hands. Some of the recipes are also great ones to share after preparation.
This first recipe is a little long and it may sound complicated, but it’s worth every minute of effort. When you ask for the child or children in your life to help, it’s time well spent.
Candy Heart Necklaces
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk
3 drops red food coloring
2 1/4 ounces colored candy sprinkles
60 long red vine licorice
Cream 1 cup butter or margarine and 3/4 cup white sugar together. Blend in egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and grated lemon peel. Sift together 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour and baking powder. Add to creamed mixture and blend well. Cover and refrigerate dough for approximately 2 hours.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Use a floured heart shaped 1 to 2 inch cookie cutter and cut dough into heart shapes. Place the cutout hearts on greased cookie sheets. Using the drinking straw, make a hole at the top center of each heart before baking. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes until very lightly browned. Cool the cookies on a wire rack.
To Make Butter Frosting: Mix 3 cups confectioners’ sugar and 1/3 cup butter together. Stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons milk. Beat until smooth making sure frosting is of spreading consistency. Stir in food coloring to create a pink or red colored frosting, if desired.
After cookies have cooled, frost and decorate them with nonpareils, sprinkles, or colored sugar. Use a toothpick to dislodge the hole, if necessary. Let the frosting dry.
To make a necklace, tie the ends off of two pieces of red colored licorice with a knot. Thread it through the hole at the top center of the cookie. Tie the other ends off with another knot to create a “chain.” Makes approximately 30 heart necklaces.
For a recipe that isn’t quite as complicated, this next one is sure to please everyone no matter what age. Seriously, you just can’t go wrong with anything chocolate. This cookie dough does require refrigerating overnight so plan accordingly. This would be a good one to make the dough ahead and have lots of helping hands for rolling.
Chocolate Truffle Cookies
4 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
6 tablespoons butter
3 eggs
1 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
In the microwave or in a metal bowl over a pan of simmering water, melt unsweetened chocolate, 1 cup of the chocolate chips and butter stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. In a large bowl, whip eggs and sugar until thick and pale, about two minutes. Stir in the vanilla and the chocolate mixture until well mixed. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; gradually stir into the chocolate mixture. Fold in remaining 1 cup chocolate chips.
Cover dough and chill for at least an hour or overnight. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll chilled dough into 1-inch balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheets 2 inches apart. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes about 36 cookies.
I hope your Valentine’s Day is a sweet one spent with those you love. Don’t let the holiday pass without taking the time to tell someone how you feel. A special candy necklace or even a handmade cookie may be just the right thing to show you care.
Happy Valentine’s Day and happy cooking!