Sweet, sweet valentine

No Bake Chocolate Hearts Cookies (Provided photo — Yvona Fast)

It’s mid-February. Carnival fun has come and gone. So has the Super Bowl. The weather has warmed and spring is approaching, past the mid-point between winter solstice and spring.

It’s time for Valentine’s Day — the day to share love with cards, flowers and chocolates.

Yes, it is a day for romance — but also friendship. We wish happy Valentine’s Day to our friends, relatives, and co-workers. Schoolchildren exchange cards and candy at classroom parties. Many adults share Valentine’s chocolates in their places of employment. We celebrate love for everyone.

Lovers first began exchanging love notes on Valentine’s Day during the Middle Ages. Before that, it was not a day for romance.

It was not until the second half of the 20th century that retailers turned Feb. 14 into a commercial bonanza. Over a billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent every year, making it the second-largest holiday for the greeting card industry after Christmas. It is the number one selling occasion for florists.

With over 35 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate, Valentine’s Day competes with Easter and Halloween for candy sales. 58 million pounds of chocolate is sold the week before Valentine’s Day.

Restaurants offer special menus, serving Valentine-themed drinks and desserts. Not to be outdone, in the 1980s the diamond industry began to promote Valentine’s Day as an occasion for giving fine jewelry. The marketing effort has extended beyond America to Japan and Korea, where women give candy to men they like on Valentine’s Day.

Cards. Love notes. Jewelry. Flowers. Jewelry. Candy. Chocolate.

Yes, chocolate!

Simple Chocolate Bark

A fancy, easy-to-create confection, chocolate bark is a flat, thin sheet of chocolate. The one you often find in the stores is made with white chocolate and slivered blanched almonds. But you can use any chocolate (dark, milk or white) or marble dark and white chocolate. Nuts, dried fruits, even pieces of cookies, chips or pretzels can be added, so the variety of what you can come up with is endless. For best results, it is important to use high-quality chocolate in chips or squares.

General directions:

Line a large cookie sheet or tray that has edges with parchment or wax paper.

Melt the chocolate either in a glass bowl in the microwave or in the top of a double boiler over steaming or simmering water.

Chocolate needs to melt gradually, over low and indirect heat, while being continually stirred. If the heat is too high, the cocoa butter will separate. If too low, it won’t melt. When fully melted, it should be slightly thicker than maple syrup. Moisture can make the chocolate grainy, so make sure all the utensils are at room temperature, clean and dry.

Add the desired ingredients (like nuts or craisins), pour the mixture onto the prepared cookie sheet, spread into a thin, even layer and allow to harden in a cool place. Break into pieces. Eat or wrap and store in covered containers in a cool, dry place.

No Bake Chocolate Hearts Cookies


3/4 – 1 cup sugar

1/4 cup milk

4 Tablespoons butter

3 Tablespoons cocoa powder

1 1/2 cup oats

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Pinch salt (omit if using salted butter)


Place sugar, milk, butter and cocoa in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in oats, peanut butter, vanilla and salt.

Remove teaspoonfuls of the hot dough, and shape into hearts (best to wear gloves). Place on parchment paper and allow to cool 30 minutes.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

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Author of the award-winning cookbook “Garden Gourmet: Fresh & Fabulous Meals from your Garden, CSA or Farmers Market,” Yvona Fast lives in Lake Clear and has two passions: Writing and cooking. She can be found at www.yvonafast.com and reached at yvonawrite@yahoo.com or on X, formerly known as Twitter: @yvonawrites.


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