Three Sweet Recipes for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and we’re counting down the hours until we can indulge in some festive sweets to ring in the holiday. The standard conversation hearts, boxes of chocolates, and ever-trendy red velvet cupcakes are all delicious options, but wouldn’t it be a treat to mix things up?

Today, Leigh Growney of The Short Giraffe Mini Confections and Catering is here to share three delectable desserts (with a twist!) that are sure to make your celebration special. With unexpected ingredients such as guava, almond extract, and maraschino cherries, that box of brownie mix won’t be missed. Whether you’re heading to a friend’s cocktail party or dining at home with your love, these mini confections promise to make it a memorable evening.

Guava Heart Pies

(Makes two dozen mini pies)

2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Cup Cake Flour
1 1/2 Teaspoons Vanilla Sugar (may substitute regular sugar)
1 Teaspoon Fine Sea Salt
1 Large Egg
1/3 Cup plus 2 Tablespoons Ice Water
1 Teaspoon White Vinegar
1/2 Cup Cold Vegetable Shortening, cubed
1 Stick Cold Unsalted Butter, cubed
Guava Paste (popular brand is Goya, can be found in most grocery stores)
1/4 Cup Sugar (for sprinkling)
1 Egg White (for brushing)

Whisk together both flours, sugar, and salt in a bowl.

Beat the egg with 1/3 cup of the water and vinegar in a separate bowl.

Add the shortening and butter to the dry mixture, and using a pastry cutter, fork, or food processor (easiest!) cut it into the butter until it resembles small peas. Add the egg mixture, mixing with your hands until the dough comes together in a ball. You can add a little more ice water if the dough seems too dry.

Divide the dough into two equal balls on a floured surface. Wrap them in plastic wrap, and flatten them into disks. Chill in the fridge for one hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Take out your dough, and roll it out on a floured surface to about 1/4” thick circles. Cut out shapes with any 3” cutter of your choice (I used hearts). You will need a top and a bottom for each pie.

Slice up your guava paste into 1” cubes, and place two cubes onto the bottom piece of each mini pie.

Wet a pastry brush slightly with water, and just lightly wet the outer edges of the bottom piece of your pie. Cover the bottom piece with a top piece, and lightly press the edges all the way around to seal.

Cut three small slits into the top of each mini pie, brush egg white on top with a pastry brush and liberally sprinkle with sugar. (I added a smaller heart-shaped piece of dough on top of each pie for decoration.)

Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Valentine Sugar Cookies with Almond Glaze

Almond Glaze Ingredients:
1 Cup Powdered Sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons Light Corn Syrup
2 Tablespoons Water
1/2 Teaspoon Almond Extract (or any extract of your choice)
Pink or Red Gel Food Coloring (I prefer Americolor)

Almond Glaze Directions:
In a bowl, whisk the powdered sugar with the corn syrup, almond extract, and one tablespoon of water until they just start to combine.

Slowly add in the remaining tablespoon of water, one drop at a time until it reaches the consistency that you need. For simply dipping your cookies into the glaze, it should be a little runny. For putting the glaze into a piping bag to pipe the edges (a cleaner look) or spreading with a spatula, leave it a little thicker.

Add in your food coloring of choice, one SMALL drop at a time until reaching your desired color.

Cover with plastic wrap and set aside while you make your cookies.

Cookie Ingredients:
Your favorite Sugar Cookie mix that can be cut out into fun shapes
Various heart-shaped cookie cutters

Cookie Directions:
Make sugar cookies according to packaged directions, and let them cool completely before frosting.

White Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream

(makes 24 mini or 12 regular cupcakes)

Cupcake Ingredients:
1/2 Cup Whole Milk
1/2 Cup Maraschino Cherry Juice (from the jar of cherries)
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 Cup Chopped Maraschino Cherries
1/2 Cup plus 2 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
3/4 Cup plus 2 Tablespoons Cake Flour
1 Cup Vanilla Sugar (may substitute regular sugar)
1 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
One Stick Unsalted Butter, softened
2 Large Eggs, room temperature

Cupcake Directions:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line your cupcake pan with liners.

In a bowl mix the milk, cherry juice, and vanilla together.

Chop up your cherries to a light, chunky form.

Combine the flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a mixer on low speed until just combined.

With the mixer on low, add the butter a few pieces at a time, mixing until it resembles a very grainy sand, with some chunks of butter in it.

With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, until just incorporated. Turn the speed to low, and gradually add in the milk and vanilla mixture, then mix for another minute.

Mix in the chopped cherries with a spatula to combine, and then portion out accordingly, filling cupcake cups 2/3 way full. Bake for 12 minutes, and cool completely before frosting.

Buttercream Ingredients:
2 Sticks Unsalted Butter, softened
1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Bean Paste (available in most specialty kitchen stores)
3 Cups Powdered Sugar, sifted
2 Tablespoons Heavy Cream
4oz Good White Chocolate, melted and cooled slightly

Buttercream Directions:
In the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment (or using a hand mixer), beat the butter, salt, and vanilla paste until creamy.

Slowly add in one cup of the powdered sugar, then add one tablespoon of heavy cream. Beat until combined.

Add in the remaining two cups of powdered sugar and the last tablespoon of cream, beating until light and fluffy.

Incorporate the melted chocolate with a spatula until just combined.