Food for thought

(Feb. 8, 2019) My Sweet Valentine is a unique Valentine’s Day centerpiece that is embellished with cupcakes, chocolate- covered strawberries and fresh flowers.

The versatility of this recipe is it can be arranged according to personal preference and purpose intended. For example, the recipe can be adjusted to include red roses and chocolate-covered strawberries for your significant other.

The centerpiece can also be used as a display for your Valentine’s Day desserts. In addition, the straightforwardness of the box cake mix and canned icing allows kids to join in on the fun.

The art of entertaining is to create an atmosphere of merriment and to show your guests how easy it is to host celebratory occasions.

My Sweet Valentine is easy to make and at the same time makes a stunning presentation. Enjoy!

My Sweet Valentine

Ingredients

3 to 5 large strawberries

1 (16-ounce) microwavable tray of chocolate CandiQuik candy coating

1 (15.25-ounce) favorite cake box mix

Valentine’s Day cupcake liners

1 (16-ounce) canned icing

3 (3.9-inch by 11.9-inch) Styrofoam blocks

1 (6-inch) terracotta clay pot

red-aluminum flower pot wrapping paper

1 (7-inch by 7-inch) sheet of tin foil

1 (15.25-ounce) box of chocolate sandwich cookies with chocolate creme filling

ice pick

assorted flowers

bamboo skewers

hot glue gun

Valentine’s Day decorative ornaments

several pinches of edible 14-karat gold dust (optional)

For The Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries:

1. Heat CandiQuik candy coating according to instructions on package. Hold the greenery on the top of the strawberry and carefully dip the strawberry in the chocolate. Hold the dipped strawberry over the microwavable tray and allow the chocolate to drip in the tray.

2. After 1 minute, carefully insert the sharp tip of a bamboo skewer into the base of the strawberry to form a hole. Then, remove the skewer and place the dull end into the hole that was just formed. Place the skewered strawberry, sharp tip down, into a section of Styrofoam to complete the drying process. Repeat this procedure for the remaining strawberries and refrigerate.

* There will be left over chocolate CandiQuik. Place it in a Ziploc bag and store in a cool place for future use.

For The Bamboo Skewers That Will Support The Cupcakes:

3. Using a hot glue gun, allow wax to drip onto the bamboo skewer approximately 3 inches from the blunt end. Keep turning the skewer so the wax builds up on the same spot. You will be making a “ledge” for the cupcake to rest on. Otherwise, the cupcake will slide down the skewer.

4. When the wax starts to dry, about 1 minute, place the skewer (sharp tip down) into a section of Styrofoam. Allow wax to completely dry (20 minutes) before placing cupcakes on the skewers. Repeat the process for the amount of cupcakes you intend to use.

For The Cupcakes:

5. Bake cupcakes in cupcake liners according to instructions on the package. Allow cupcakes to cool completely before icing.

6. Using a piping bag and decorative tip, pipe icing onto cupcakes. Use different tips for a more festive look.

7. Carefully pick up a cupcake, leaving the cupcake liner intact, and insert the sharp tip of the skewer into the base of the cupcake. Then, remove the skewer and place the dull end into the hole that was just formed. Place the skewered cupcake, sharp tip down, into a section of Styrofoam; your cupcake is ready for assembly.

* You will have leftover cupcakes. I am sure they will not go to waste.

For The Assembly Of My Sweet Valentine:

8. Cover terracotta pot with red-aluminum flower pot wrapping paper.

9. Using a sharp knife, cut the Styrofoam and fill the terracotta pot. Try to keep the pieces as large as possible; fill in any gaps with smaller pieces. Leave a 1-inch space from the top of the pot.

10. Place tin foil (centered) over the top of the pot and fold the sides down. This will leave an indentation of the pot’s perimeter on the foil. Turn the outer edges of the foil inwards creating a circular disk. Place the tin foil disk over the Styrofoam, this will keep the Styrofoam from touching anything edible.

11. Remove the filling from the cookies. Using a rolling pin, crush the cookies into a powder. The cookie powder represents dirt. Place cookie dirt on top of the tin foil disk. Allow an ¼-inch of space between the top of the pot and the cookie dirt. (For a 6-inch pot you will need approximately 2/3 of the cookies).

12. Starting at one end of the pot, arrange flowers, cupcakes and chocolate-dipped strawberries, working your way to the other side. Once completed, add a few Valentine’s Day decorative ornaments and a sprinkling of edible 14-karat gold dust.

* I appeared on Delmarva Life Feb. 7 and did a cooking segment which featured “My Sweet Valentine.” You can go on the internet to watch this past episode of Delmarva Life to get a more detailed demonstration.

Secret Ingredient – Love. “The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost.”

– Gilbert K. Chesterton

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