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Lori Horton
Lori Horton is the owner of Celebrations by Lori in Pittsburg, Ks. With over 15 years experience in the bakery business, Lori opened Celebrations in 2000. She is always out front with the most unique ideas in cake and cookie decorating for all occasions. Celebrations is also on top of the industries' latest trends and products with the area's largest selection of baking and cake decorating supplies. Open Monday - Saturday, Celebrations can be reached at 620-231-5700 or at www.celebrationsbylori.com
Candy, Chocolate & Sweets
2011-02-01 14:24:00
Homemade Valentine’s Day ideas for him
Answer: Unfortunately, Valentine’s Day is quickly becoming the next victim of the over-commercialization of our favorite holidays. It is second only to Christmas for cards exchanged, mostly “Valentines” in classrooms across the nation. The oldest known Valentine was sent in 1415 A.D. by the Duke of Orleans to his French wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London and is still on display in an English museum. However, today, Valentine’s Day is big business. Consumers will spend an average of $75 each on Valentine’s Day gifts this year. Overall, retailers expect to rack up about $650 million in sales of candy, flowers, and other gifts. Of that amount about $45 million will be spent on food (including chocolate and wine). So how did chocolate and Valentine’s Day become so intertwined? From the moment chocolate was discovered, it was considered valuable, divine, and decadent, but wasn’t the sweet rich treat we know now for quite some time. It was a chemist that learned how to make powdered chocolate by removing some of the natural fat, then pulverizing what was left and treating it with alkaline salts to remove the bitterness. Several years later a man named Joseph Fry took Dutch cocoa and added melted cocoa butter, thus inventing the first modern chocolate bar. The first chocolate candies (as we know them today) were invented in the 1860’s by Cadbury, who was also the first to market them in a heart-shaped box for Valentine’s Day that same decade. A little candy maker named Nestle soon followed suit and the rest is history. All that commercialism aside, everyone loves candy for Valentine’s Day and something homemade says you really care. There are some essential ingredients you’ll want to narrow down. Does your sweetheart like nuts, fruits, cream centers, mint flavors, or coconut? If they are a peanut lover, peanut or cashew clusters are very quick and easy to make. Start with a good quality melting chocolate (not almond bark or chocolate chips). A popular chocolate ideal for this would be Candyman’s brand of melting chocolate in milk, dark or white chocolate and it is delicious and easy to work with. After melting the chocolate slowly add nuts until the mixture is mostly nuts with just enough chocolate to coat and “glue” them together. Then drop spoonfuls onto waxed paper or into small paper candy cups for a more finished look. These will set up fairly quickly and are hard to resist taking a sample, so make a few extra! Clusters can also be mixed with your favorite cereal or dried fruits, so experiment with whatever you have in the cabinet. Peanut butter cups are another great option and are easier to make than you think. I’ll include that recipe at the end of this article. If chocolate and fruit is the combination that your sweetie goes wild over, then the classic Valentine treat is chocolate covered strawberries. Always use fresh ripe strawberries that are clean and completely dry and dip them in the chocolate of your choice. White chocolate is a yummy combination with strawberries and looks cute drizzled in red or pink chocolate. Simple hold the dry berry by the stem and dip most of the berry in chocolate. Shake off the excess chocolate and lay the berry on waxed paper to set up. Add sprinkles, drizzle colors or simply let it dry smooth, they will taste great no matter what! One thing to remember about strawberries once they are dipped is they should be eaten within a few hours for the best taste. Cream center candies are also much easier than they look. Start with a basic fondant center (there’s a recipe at the end of this article), and add a few drops of whatever oil-based flavor you prefer. Your local baking supply shop should have many LorAnn brand oils that are ideal for cream center candies, so you can surely find something you’ll love. There are mint varieties, liqueur flavors, fruit flavors of all kinds, coffee, hazelnut and lots more! You’ll form the mixture into small balls and dip in chocolate. There are even molds that you can use to really make professional looking candies. The most important thing is to make what you like. The big box candies always have those last few pieces that have been broken open or had a nibbled corner to see what’s inside. When you make their favorites, that won’t be problem! These recipes are also kid friendly since the chocolate melts at a comfortable 100 degrees and can be melted in the microwave so no burns! Have fun with it and you can’t go wrong! Peanut Butter Cup filling recipe 1cup creamy or crunchy peanut butter 1 cup powdered sugar (sifted) 1 tablespoon butter (melted) Mix together all three ingredients. Form into small balls and refrigerate until slightly firm. Using a dipping fork, dip the balls in melted milk chocolate coating and set on waxed paper to set up. You can also add crushed graham crackers or tiny crisp rice to this mixture if you like a crunchier filling. Basic Fondant Center recipe 1 cup dry fondant 3-4 teaspoons milk or water 1-2 teaspoons flavor enhancer (cherry juice, strong coffee, raspberry filling, etc.) 1-2 drops complimentary oil flavor Paste color of your choice (optional) Simply mix all the ingredients together kneading at the end to get a smooth soft dough texture. If it becomes a bit sticky from the juice, just add a bit more of the dry fondant to smooth it back out. This cream center can be formed into small balls and dipped in chocolate or used to make molded, filled candies.
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