The best way to say I love you on Valentine’s Day is with caramel. The second-best way? Dessert of course. Even better than that? A caramel dessert (we’re all about combining the best of the best!).
To really up the wow factor this year and end your Valentine’s evening on a high note, consider crafting a heart-shaped caramelized concoction. We’ve collected a roster of sweet treats (from the best bloggers and chefs out there) that will warm the heart of your mom, friends, partner, kids...whoever needs something sweet on February 14.
Of note, we show you how to modify each recipe (if needed) using our caramel but have also included links to the original recipe and the fabulous chefs who created them. In lieu of making sauce in the recipes that call for it, you can choose to melt McCrea’s Candies caramel with half-and-half in the microwave until desired texture is achieved. Scale accordingly. The recipe for this is below and works with any of McCrea’s Candies caramel flavors:
Put half and half and caramel in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 10 second intervals, whisking in between, until smooth sauce is created. If sauce is too thin, add more caramels. If too thick, add more half and half in ½ tsp intervals.
Hearts will be sure to skip a beat when you whip up these fun heart-shaped and caramel-frosted cookies from Nikki Wells.
Shortbread Cookies Cookie
- 1 pound butter (4 sticks), softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- Salted caramel sauce (see below)
- Your favorite chocolate
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/4 cup light corn syrup
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon vinegar or lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Beat the sugar and butter together, then add salt, vanilla, and flour, and mix until combined.
- Roll out the shortbread cookie dough, and use a heart shaped cookie cutter to create the basic cookie shape. Dock the dough (put tiny holes in it) with a fork or a toothpick.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the cookies begin to turn golden on the edges. Let cool completely before adding the caramel and chocolate.
- Meanwhile, cook the caramel to 240 degrees
- Pour caramel mixture in a half-sheet pan (something with a lip, just in case of runoff) lined with a silpat. This is critical if you want to get nicely shaped, appropriately thin caramel hearts to top your cookie
- Let the caramel cool completely on the silpat pan liner. Once cooled and firm, use a slightly smaller cookie cutter than the one you used for the shortbread heart to cut out heart shapes in the caramel. Lift the caramel hearts carefully with a spatula and place them in the center of the shortbread heart. No need to add any adhesive; the caramel will meld nicely to the cookie in a few minutes.
- Melt about 1/2 cup of high-quality chocolate carefully in the microwave or over a double boiler. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the cookies and sprinkle with coarse sea salt.
These luscious brownies by Breanna's Recipe Box and based on a recipe from Smitten Kitchen will have friends and family thanking you from the bottom of their hearts when you serve them up at the end of your Valentine’s Day meal.
- 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
- 1 stick butter
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Heaped 1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
- Favorite McCrea’s Candies caramel
- Heat oven to 350F degrees. Line an 8x8-inch square baking pan with parchment, extending it up two sides, or foil. Spray the parchment with a nonstick cooking spray.
- In a medium heatproof bowl over gently simmering water, melt chocolate and butter together. Remove from heat when a few small pieces of chocolate remain and stir until chocolate is fully melted and smooth. Whisk in sugar and then eggs, one at a time. Next add the vanilla and salt. Stir in flour with a wooden spoon or spatula.
- Gently fold all but a small amount of caramel pieces into batter. Scrape batter into prepared baking pan and spread until even. Scatter remaining caramel pieces on top of the brownies.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool completely and cut into hearts.
- Drizzle caramel sauce over the brownies and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt
Give your loved ones their heart’s desire with these rich chocolate hearts from Better Homes & Gardens.
- 8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 3 slightly beaten egg yolks
- 8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 1/3 cup milk
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons coffee or orange liqueur
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Unsweetened cocoa powder (optional)
- Caramel Sauce
- Candied Orange Peel (optional)
- Whipped cream (optional)
- Chill a medium mixing bowl and the beaters of an electric mixer.
- Place chocolate in a heavy medium saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly until partially melted; immediately remove from heat and stir until smooth. Cool slightly.
- In a chilled mixing bowl beat whipping cream with the chilled beaters on medium speed until stiff peaks form. Cover; chill until needed (up to 1 hour).
- In a heavy small saucepan stir together egg yolks, milk, and sugar. Bring to a gentle boil over low heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and pour mixture into a medium mixing bowl; add liqueur and cinnamon. Stir to combine. Add the melted chocolate, 2 tablespoons at a time, to the hot mixture, beating with an electric mixer on low speed until combined (mixture will be thick). Add 1/2 cup of the whipped cream and continue beating on low speed until smooth. Gently fold in the remaining whipped cream.
- Line 6 individual heart-shaped pans (about 3 inches in diameter) or 6-ounce custard cups with plastic wrap, allowing edges to hang over sides. Spoon chocolate mixture evenly into pans. Cover with heavy foil; freeze until firm (about 4 hours) or for up to 1 month.
- Before serving, remove pans or cups from freezer. Invert onto a baking sheet. Remove plastic wrap. Smooth tops of desserts with a knife that has been dipped in hot water. Let desserts stand for 15 minutes at room temperature.
- If desired, for a cocoa design, cut several 1/4-inch-wide strips of paper, making each strip slightly longer than one of the heart-shaped or round desserts. Place the strips atop one of the desserts in a lattice design. Sift cocoa atop. Carefully remove strips. Repeat with the remaining desserts.
- To serve, spoon Caramel Sauce atop 6 dessert plates, if desired. With a spatula, transfer the desserts to the dessert plates, placing them atop sauce. Dollop with whipped cream and top with Candied Orange Peel (see step 9), if desired.
- If using Candied Orange Peel: with a vegetable peeler or small knife, cut strips of peel from orange, leaving the white pith behind. Use the rest of the orange for another purpose. Cut the strips of orange peel into thin julienne strips (about 1/8-inch wide). Place peel in a small pan of boiling water for 2 minutes; drain. Remove peel. In same pan combine water and sugar. Bring to boiling, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat. Add peel. Simmer, uncovered, for 12 to 15 minutes or until the peel is transparent; drain. With a fork, transfer peel to a sheet of buttered foil; cool thoroughly. Use immediately or transfer to a tightly covered storage container and store in a cool, dry place for up to 1 week.
Love is definitely in your future if you make this tart filled with salted caramel, lavender infused ganache and topped with toasted marshmallow. The recipe, from PopSugar contributor and TODAY Tastemaker Brandi Milloy, will have loved ones eating their hearts out.
- 1 pie crust
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon fleur de sel
- 2/3 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon culinary lavender (or use lavender tea bag)
- 10 ounces dark chocolate
- 4 egg whites
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- The night before, add culinary lavender or tea bag to milk and let infuse overnight.
- Preheat oven to 450ºF.
- Unroll pie crust and press into a heart-shaped tart pan, removing any excess overhang of pie crust with the edge of the pan. Puncture the dough with the prongs of a fork and then bake for 12 to 14 minutes, or until the dough is cooked through. Remove from the oven and let cool.
- To make the caramel: In a medium sauce pot over medium heat, cook sugar, stirring occasionally until completely melted and the color begins to turn amber. Remove from heat and mix in butter. The sugar will start to bubble up but keep mixing until the butter is completely incorporated, and the mixture is smooth. Then add in the heavy cream and salt and keep mixing until combined. Return the mixture to the heat for short bursts to thicken the caramel until it coats the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and set aside.
- To make lavender chocolate ganache: Strain lavender infused milk through a strainer or cheesecloth. Heat milk in a microwave safe glass for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the milk starts to simmer. Remove the milk and pour over chocolate. Let sit for a minute for the milk to melt the chocolate and then stir to combine.
- Once the caramel has cooled to the touch, pour into pie crust in an even layer, about halfway up the crust. Place in the refrigerator to set. Then cover with chocolate ganache and spread evenly over the top of the tart. Return the tart to the refrigerator and chill for 1 hour or overnight.
- To make marshmallow frosting:In a mixing stand or using an electric mixer, whisk together egg whites, cream of tartar, and sugar until stiff peaks form and the meringue is glossy and smooth. Remove tart from refrigerator and dollop meringue mixture on top of the tart, making sure to pull as many peaks as you can. Use torch to brown the entire meringue (or pop it under a broiler for a couple minutes) and serve.
Show your Valentine all kinds of love with a recipe that comes straight from the heart like these totally irresistible Churros. Developed by Supergolden Bakes, they’re perfect when served with a caramel sauce for dipping or drizzling.
- 1 cup water
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup plain all purpose flour, sifted
- 2 tbsp butter (can replace with vegetable oil)
- 2 quarts sunflower oil or vegetable, canola etc
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1-2tsp ground cinnamon
- Caramel sauce made from McCrea’s Candies caramel for dipping or drizzling
- Mix the sugar and cinnamon on a large plate and set aside. Line tray with baking paper.
- Heat the water, sugar, salt, vanilla and butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to the boil then turn heat off and immediately add all the flour.
- Stir the flour vigorously with a wooden spoon until the dough forms a ball. Set it aside for a few minutes to cool down a little but pipe while stir warm and pliable.
- Fit a large piping bag with a large closed star tip. Spoon the dough into the bag and carefully pipe the hearts on the baking paper. If you mess up put the dough back in the bag and try again! Note: You can draw hearts on the baking paper as a template. Flip the paper over when you are piping the hearts
- Heat the oil in a large, deep pot (Note: If you have a fryer, use it - it makes the process a little easier.). If you have a candy thermometer clip it on. The oil is ready when it reaches 375F. (To check if the oil is ready without the use of the thermometer drop a small cube of bread in it. It should brown within a minute.)
- Lower the hearts into the oil using a wooden spoon (they keep their shape remarkably well). Do not fry more than 2 at a time as the oil temperature will drop. Use chopstick to flip and fry until golden - about 2-3 minutes on each side.
- Drain on kitchen towels then roll in the cinnamon sugar.