I've been so excited to share this blog post with you, and just a couple of days until Valentine's day seems just about the right time if you're planning to do any making and baking. As you know, I love a theme to play with, and Valentine's is just perfect because there's so much scope to do just about anything as long as it's red, pink or heart shaped! I've probably never put so much time and effort into just the one blog post, but it's been so enjoyable, and I hope you like it!
I had so many different ideas of what I wanted to do for a Valentine's theme that it was impossible to narrow them down, so I decided to make three different treats. Don't worry, they're all pretty easy to throw together, and they're all really tasty, of course!
Inspired by a Starbucks strawberries and cream frappuccino, this creamy strawberry smoothie-frappe was a bit of an experiment, but it turned out surprisingly well! It may not be the healthiest smoothie you'll ever drink - hey neither's a Starbucks - but it's darn tasty and perfect for an indulgent Valentine's treat.
To make two large drinks you will need:
Coconut milk (1 can)
Strawberries (around 300g)
Vanilla ice cream (1 cup)
Start off by freezing a can of coconut milk in some ice cube trays - do this the night before so that they're frozen nice and solid. When you're ready to make your smoothie-frappe, pop the coconut milk ice into a blender with an ice crush function, or just a really heavy duty blender. I use this one - Lakeland power blender - and it's perfect for frozen drinks. Also add your hulled strawberries, a cup of vanilla ice cream and and a glug of strawberry syrup, secure the lid and hit the start button. You might need to add a splash of milk or water to help get the ice moving depending on your blender.
Once everything's nicely blended you should have a deliciously thick, pink drink. Have a taste and feel free to add a little more strawberry syrup depending on how sweet you like things. You can serve your smoothie-frappe however you like, but I thought they'd look cute in these mason jars with a pink straw and a sugar a sprinkle rim. If you want to add sprinkles to your smoothie vessel of choice, you'll need something sticky to get them to stay in place - I used a little smearing of honey and then rolled the edges of the jar into the sprinkles. If you're feeling ultra indulgent, and to give that Starbucks feel, you could also add some squirty cream on the top of your frappe.
Next up, these desserts aren’t all that sure what they are – part cheesecake, part trifle, I’ve decided to call them strawberry parfait desserts. Really I just wanted to create that cool half and half look in a glass using pretty pink and red valentine’s colours!
To make four parfaits you will need:
Strawberry jelly mix (1 sachet)
Strawberries (4 chopped and 2 to decorate)
Strawberry angel delight (1 sachet)
Double cream (600ml)
Pink gel food colouring (optional)
Digestive biscuits (2 biscuits)
Start off by selecting some transparent serving bowls or glasses for your parfaits. Wine glasses would work, but as you need to set the jelly with the glasses tipped to one side, I found it a lot easier with these shorter, flat bottomed glasses. To keep them tilted while the jelly sets, I used a muffin baking tray. I put each glass into one of the pans and used a paper towel underneath the glass to keep it in place .
Chop four of your strawberries and add some to each glass (or raspberries would also be nice) and make up your jelly according to the pack instructions. Once the jelly is still liquid but has cooled, pour into the glasses, over the strawberries and put everything in the fridge to chill.
Meanwhile you can make up your strawberry mousse. You could make a mousse from scratch if you like, but as we're going for quick and easy, I've used Angel Delight, but to make it a bit more special, instead of milk you can whip it up with double cream. Of course that's going to add more calories, so stick to milk if you prefer, but it tastes amazing made with double cream. I added a little bit of pink gel food colouring to the mousse as it lost some of its colour with the volume of cream.
Spoon your strawberry mousse into the space that remains in your glass and smooth out the top. Add some crumbled digestive biscuits and a heart shaped strawberry. If you don't have one that's naturally all that heart shaped, take a large strawberry, slice it in half and use a small cookie cutter to make a perfect heart - or if you're more of an artist that I am, you could just use a knife!
I used the digestive biscuits to tie in a bit of a cheesecake connection, but you could top instead with more strawberries, whipped cream, sprinkles or anything else you can think of.
Lastly, I knew I wanted to make something red velvet, because it’s just so fitting for Valentine’s day, but more so because I just really like red velvet cake! I thought about brownies, and cookies, but I was unsure that they’d be as nice as actual red velvet cake, so I thought I’d just go ahead and make some red velvet cake and see what I could do with it. A pink striped straw and a heart-shaped cookie cutter later and I’d created these ridiculously large red velvet cake pops, and they taste ahhmaaazing.
To make these *giant cake pops you will need:
Red velvet cake
Good quality milk chocolate (200g)
Heart-shaped large cookie cutters
Paper straws or cake pop sticks
*the number of cake pops this recipe will make depends on which red velvet cake recipe you use, the size of your cake pans and the size of your cutters. With the sizes I used, I could make up to ten cake pops (allowing for cookie cutting mistakes!).
First you’ll need to bake yourself some red velvet cake, or you could use ready made cake if you can get it where you live, or use a box cake mix. I used this red velvet cake recipe and two round silicone cake pans. Once the cakes were completely cooled on a wire rack, I very carefully set about cutting out my heart shapes. I used a heart shaped cutter which was about three and a bit inches tall as I wasn’t going for dainty, bite-sized cake pops and wasn’t baking for a crowd, but you could follow the same method with smaller cutters if you like.
I found the best method for cutting out the hearts without running into cracks and crumbles is to cut a slice out of the cake first with a knife, just a little wider than the cookie cutter, before attempting to make the heart shape. Red velvet cake, or this recipe at least, gives a pretty dense, sturdy cake to work with, so my cut out hearts held their shape well and didn’t even go to pieces when I added the straw (cake pop stick substitute). If you bake your red velvet cake in different pans which might give a more spread out, thinner result, you might find it harder to get your heart shapes to hold in one piece, so I’d recommend baking cake that’s at least 1.5 – 2 inches thick.
After all the heart shapes are cut out, add straws or cake pop sticks. I used paper straws, cut to about two thirds of their original size, and pushed them in almost to the top of the heart. Next pop the cakes back onto a wire rack – I added some foil underneath the rack as the next part gets a bit messy.
Melt some chocolate on a medium to low heat in the microwave, checking after every minute or two to make sure you don’t burn the chocolate. You want it to be runny and glossy with no lumps of un-melted chocolate. I used Galaxy milk chocolate, but you could also use dark chocolate if you prefer, or white chocolate would give a contrasting look.
Using the back of a spoon, drizzle melted chocolate all over the hearts in a zig-zag or side to side motion for a haphazard covering. Or, dip one half of each heart into the chocolate to fully cover one side. Before the chocolate has fully cooled, add some sprinkles in valentine’s colours or shapes, and your cake pops are ready to go.
I hope these recipes have given you some inspiration to get your Valentine's bake on - let me know if you give any of them a try!