D o s e  o f  D o l c e

Sweet Valentines

Some of our favorite sweet and simple recipes that everyone is sure to love this Valentine's Day.

A heartfelt Valentine doesn't have to be complicated or time consuming to be thoughtful. In fact, we think it should be something that you enjoy doing for those you love and care about - or even better, something you can do with them.


Here are our top choices for simple, heartwarming treats that will ensure everyone feels loved this February.



Heartwarming Hot Cocoa

Who says hot chocolate is only a December beverage? We think it's an all-winter beverage. It's quick, simple, and a crowd-pleaser. Plus, it's flexible for dietary preferences and allergies, so you can easily alter it depending on the person. Versatility is key, but so is our secret ingredient.


What You'll Need:


Milk (or non-dairy beverage of your choice, such as Almond, Soy, Hemp, Rice, etc.)

Cocoa or cacao powder

Vanilla extract

Light brown sugar (or Coconut sugar if you prefer something a little less sweet)

Mini marshmallows (Dandies are an all-natural, dairy-free alternative easily found at most supermarkets - without breaking the bank)

Dark chocolate (or semi-sweet) chocolate chips (or dairy-free alternative)

Whipped cream (optional)


Directions:


1. For super-simple and quick hot cocoa, pour desired amount of milk into a microwave-safe mug. Microwave milk for 2 minutes, or until steaming (not boiling).


ALT: If stove-top warming is preferred, pour desired amount of milk into a small saucepan. Warm on medium heat until steaming, but be careful not to boil.


2. Carefully remove mug from microwave (if stove-top, carefully pour milk into a mug). Add 1 tbsp of cocoa powder. Stir well to combine (often, using a small whisk is the most effective way to break up cocoa and distribute). Add 1/2 tbsp of light brown sugar (or coconut sugar), 2-3 drops of vanilla extract, and a small amount of chocolate chips. Stir again to combine.


3. Once mixed, add desired amount of marshmallows. (If opting for whipped cream, add on top or under marshmallows. We won't judge you for adding both.) If desired, sprinkle cocoa powder on top for decoration.


If you're gifting, add this mix to a small bag or mason jar:


1 tbsp cocoa powder

1/2 tbsp light brown sugar

Small handful of dark chocolate chips


(In a small bag, include marshmallows separated from mix.)


That's it! A super simple, not-too-sweet recipe that is easily gifted and widely loved.



Smitten Shortbread

Shortbread doesn't have to be boring. There are so many ways you can offer shortbread treats: little jam-filled thumbprints with tea, some thoughtfully iced hearts shared over coffee...the list is practically endless. Here's one of the easiest, dairy and nut-free shortbread recipes we've tried (and loved).


What You'll Need:


1 container of vegetable spread (we recommend Earth Balance)

Vanilla paste

1/2 cup caster sugar

2 1/2 cups sifted flour (gluten-free flour substitutions, if preferred)


Directions:


1. Cream about 1 cup of spread, 1 tsp of vanilla paste, and 1/2 cup caster sugar. Fold 2 1/2 cups of flour into creamed mixture until combined. Wrap in cling film or cover in bowl and chill for 30 minutes.


2. Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large baking tray with parchment paper or a non-stick baking liner. Once dough is chilled and firmed, roll dough out to 1/2 cm thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut dough into desired shape using a cookie cutter (or use a glass to cut perfectly round cookies). [NOTE: If making jammy dodgers/thumbprints, use a smaller cookie cutter to remove the center of every-other cookie. This cookie will top your jam-covered cookie base.] Carefully transfer cookies to baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar, if desired. Bake for 12-15 minutes until cookie edges are golden brown. Be sure to turn cookies half-way through in order to ensure an even bake.


3. Let cool for 10-20 minutes before decorating. Fill with a bright raspberry jam, decorate with icing, or simply dust with sifted powdered sugar, and enjoy!




Two-Step Chocolate Truffles

Two steps, four ingredients, endless delight. Who doesn't love the gift of simple happiness?


What You'll Need:


1 1/4 cup of very finely chopped chocolate (we recommend using 72% cacao or higher)

7 tbsp coconut milk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup cacao powder


Directions:


1. Add finely chopped chocolate to a medium-sized mixing bowl. In a separate mixing bowl, add coconut milk and microwave about 25 seconds until very warm (not boiling). (ALT: Heat coconut milk in a saucepan on the stove-top until very warm, just about simmering, but not boiling.) Once warm/hot, immediately pour coconut milk over chocolate and cover to trap heat. Leave 5 minutes before stirring gently to combine well. Be careful not to overwork mixture. Add vanilla and incorporate fully.


2. Chill mixture 2-3 hours uncovered. Mixture should be nearly solid before working with it. Use a knife to test the center: if chocolate sticks, let it sit a bit longer, but if the knife is mostly clean, it's ready to work. Use a tablespoon to scoop out small balls of mixture, using hands to quickly and gently roll mixture into a ball. Roll ball into cocoa or cacao powder to coat, if desired, shaking off excess before placing balls onto parchment-lined dish or baking sheet. (Yields about 16 truffles depending on the size of your scoops.)


Enjoy, gift, or set overnight to firm. Remember: these need to be refrigerated for storage, but can be set out for about 15 minutes before serving to maximize the chocolate's smooth and creamy texture. Top with chocolate crumbles, fruit pieces, or sprinkles for decoration.

Do you have any go-to sweet treats to share? Comment and let us know your favorites!

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