T-minus a week until the most over-manufactured, high-expectation-low-return “holiday” of the year: Valentine’s Day. That’s seven days until florists are ravaged of anything “long stem” and drugstores are depleted of all their heart-shaped candy. Greeting cards will clog up the mail system next week and classrooms everywhere will each host at least one sad, un-chosen kid who didn’t get a Valentine, or enough Valentines, or the Valentine that their little heart was waiting for. Now, before you go calling me a cynic or reaching deep into my psyche for why I hate Valentine’s Day, let me save you the time and effort: I don’t. I also don’t buy in on the red foil wrapped mania and sky-high expectations of what, in my humble opinion, should be a day to actually celebrate Love, not the giving and getting of trivial things and the ostracizing of single people everywhere. Want to knock someone’s socks off this Valentine’s Day? Make them something. Give them something that says, “I thought about you, I spent a little bit of money and a lot of time to make you smile.” You could make them a card, a mix tape or dinner. Or you could make them dessert and really get the party started. The old adage is “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”, and let me tell you: TRUE STORY. However, it goes both ways: make your girl something sloppy and chocolate and watch her clothes fall off. (I’m generalizing, but we all know it’s a little bit true.) In a conversation recently, I heard a man say that cookies were his Love Language, not a bad choice, if you ask me.
We’ve made macarons here before, more than once. This time it’s all about contrast, because opposites attract, right? Delicate rose and heady vanilla join up for an ethereal, romantic combination, while classic chocolate and hazelnut remind us that Love really is sweet. Some of each and you have a perfect pair on your hands. If the thought of making macarons freaks you out, try any of these other desserts, guaranteed to put you in the mood.
Red Velvet Cupcakes Seasonally color appropriate and uber popular; you can’t lose.
Raspberry Coconut Macaroons These are infinitely simpler and quicker than French macarons, plus there’s some romantic science to be had here! Read on!
Chocolate Cake with Raspberries and Brown Sugar Creamcheese Frosting Sorry/not sorry, but this is basically the perfect cake. Oh, and it’s gorgeous and unpretentious, just like your Valentine.
Strawberry Rhubarb Cinnamon Rolls Make these in advance and eat them warm, fresh baked, in bed, on February 15th, you know, the morning after …
Easy Brownies Short on time, but not on affection? Bake up these fudgey winners. Bonus points if you cut them with a heart shaped cookie cutter.
White Chocolate Almond Blondies Do you have a thing for blondes? No? Blondies? If you don’t already, you will after you have these.
Drunken Lemon Lime Marmalade A gift that keeps on giving …
Dreamy Avocado Lime Freezer Pie Raw, vegan, and totally out-of-this-world good. A nice alternative if you’re not feeling like over indulging.
The Perfect Pair: Macarons Two Ways : Vanilla Rose and Chocolate Hazelnut Macarons
The Master Recipe for macarons can be found here.
You will need to make 2 batches of macarons, flavoring one with 1tsp rosewater and tinting it pink (or which ever colour you’d like). The second batch can be flavoured with 1 tsp real hazelnut extract and tinted brown. I use these gel food colors and you only need a bit, they are potent and not very forgiving.
Fill the rose macarons with vanilla butter cream. To make the butter cream, simply combine 1/2 C room temperature butter with 2 C icing sugar and 1 Tbsp vanilla. Mix, beating quickly for several minutes until fully incorporated and fluffy. Transport frosting to a piping bag and pipe small dollops on to the underside of 1/2 your batch of rose macarons. Sandwich with the remaining cookies.
Fill the hazelnut macarons with chocolate hazelnut butter cream. To make it, simply combine 1/2 C room temperature butter with 2 cups, minus 3 Tbsp icing sugar, 3 Tbsp cocoa powder and 1 Tbsp real hazelnut extract. Mix, beating quickly for several minutes until fully incorporated and fluffy. Transport frosting to a piping bag and pipe small dollops on to the underside of 1/2 your batch of your chocolate hazelnut macarons. Sandwich with the remaining cookies. OR just use store-bought chocolate hazelnut spread, like Nutella!