home cooking recipes                                            home cooking recipes

Sharing cookies and cupcakes with those special people can be simple to do. Stocking the pantry with ready-made mixes and Cupid's mix of chocolate candies will allow you to create tokens of love in no time at all. Or, bake ahead and freeze to decorate at a moment's notice.

Gather your family and friends around the kitchen table, decorate heart cookies or cupcakes together and watch loving memories in the making.

Package these romantic gifts with Valentine's Day plates, transparent wrap and pretty ribbons, and share sweetness with neighbors, co-workers and those in need of a little extra kindness. For more recipes, decorating, gift and family fun ideas go to www.brightideas.com.


Valentine Cupcakes

1 (18-ounce) box cake mix
1 (10 or 12-ounce) bag Milky Way or Snickers Pop'ables
Red food coloring
2 (12-ounce) cans whipped vanilla frosting
3/4 cup heart-shaped sprinkles
1 (14-ounce) bag M&M'S Milk Chocolate Candies for Valentine's Day

Line muffin tins with paper cupcake liners. Prepare cake mix according to package directions. Chop Pop'ables and fold into batter before spooning into muffin cups. Bake according to package directions. Let cupcakes cool to room temperature. Using red food coloring, tint one can vanilla frosting pink. Spread 12 cupcakes with pink frosting and 12 with remaining white frosting. Roll edges of frosted cupcakes in heart-shaped sprinkles. Arrange colored candies into various designs on top of each cupcake. Makes 24 cupcakes.

Sweetheart Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Various heart-shaped cookie cutters
1 (11-ounce) bag Dove Milk or Dark Chocolate Hearts
Red, pink and white M&M'S Chocolate Candies for Valentine's Day

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add salt, egg and vanilla, and continue to beat until well blended. Gradually blend in flour until fully incorporated. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour. Preheat oven to 375 F. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface or between two sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap to about 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into heart shapes or use heart-shaped cookie cutters. Place on parchment-covered baking sheet. Bake until golden brown (8 to 10 minutes). Cool. To melt chocolate hearts, microwave approximately 3 to 4 minutes on medium power, stirring every 20 to 30 seconds, being very careful not to burn. Dip cookies (an edge or up to one-half) in melted chocolate. Alternatively, try painting chocolate on cookies using baker's spatula or table knife, then decorate with colored candies. Makes 2 dozen heart-shaped cookies.

Tiny Love Cakes

1 (16-ounce) frozen pound cake, thawed
1 2 to 2 1/4-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter
1 (16-ounce) can prepared vanilla frosting
Red food coloring
1 (14-ounce) bag M&M'S Milk Chocolate Candies for Valentine's Day
1 tube chocolate decorative frosting, with plain tip

Line cookie sheet with waxed paper and top with wire cooling rack; set aside. Cut pound cake lengthwise into 9 slices, each about 1 inch thick. Using heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out 2 heart shapes per cake slice. (Save trimmings for another use, such as trifles, rum balls or snacking.) Place heart-shaped cake pieces on top of wire cooling rack. Spoon 1/4 cup of vanilla frosting into resealable plastic bag and set aside. Using red food coloring, tint remaining frosting light pink, and spoon it into glass measuring cup. Heat pink frosting in microwave 5 to 10 seconds, or until pourable. Do not overheat. Pour pink frosting over heart-shaped cake pieces, to cover both tops and sides, reusing drippings and reheating if necessary. Refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes. Using scissors, snip small corner from resealable plastic bag filled with white frosting, and use it to pipe designs on tops and sides of heart-shaped cake pieces. Attach candies in different designs, then pipe messages on tops with decorative chocolate frosting. Makes 18 cakes.

Heart and Soul Cookies

1 (18-ounce) roll refrigerated sugar cookie dough
2/3 cup flour
Printable templates or 2 3/4 and 1 1/2-inch heart cookie cutters
Red food coloring
Red or pink sugar crystals
1 (13-ounce) bag Milky Way Minis for Valentine's Day
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 (11-ounce) bag Dove Milk or Dark Chocolate Hearts

Preheat oven to 350 F. Knead cookie dough with flour until smooth. Roll out 2/3 of dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Using large heart template or cookie cutter, cut out 18 heart shapes, each 2 3/4 inches. Transfer to cookie sheets and bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven, transfer to wire rack and let cool completely. Tint remaining cookie dough with red food coloring. Roll out red cookie dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Using smaller heart template, cut out 18 heart shapes, each 1 1/2 inches. Sprinkle tops of smaller hearts with sugar crystals, and bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven, transfer to wire rack and let cool completely. In microwave-safe bowl, melt 2 cups candy bar minis and heavy cream about 1 1/2 minutes or until smooth, stirring every few seconds. Spread top of each larger heart cookie with chocolate mixture. Center smaller heart cookie on top of chocolate mixture. Spread back of chocolate hearts with melted chocolate mixture and place in center of cookie. Makes 18 cookies.


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