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Heart-shaped Food Ideas for Your Valentine

Feb 6, 2013

Nicole Marshall Middleton

Valentine's day ideas

Cooks put a lot of heart in the foods that they make.

So at Valentine's Day, the holiday that encourages over-the-top displays of romance, why not just make foods that are heart shaped?

We set out to find a variety of fun heart-shaped foods, both sweet and savory, that you can make and give to someone you love. Pinterest, the social media site that serves as a virtual pin board, was a useful resource in this endeavor.

Many users had already created "Heart-Shaped Foods" pin boards. You can find the Tulsa World's pinboards at pinterest.com/tulsaworldscene.

A study released last year by RJMetrics found that the all-time most popular pinboard categories are Home (17.2 percent), Arts and Crafts (12.4 percent), Style/Fashion (11.7 percent), and Food (10.5 percent).

But food is the fastest-growing pinboard category. Food is also the most likely category to be repinned, on average generating 50 percent more re-pins than the next most repinned category, Style and Fashion, the analysis found.

In the early days of Pinterest, Style and Fashion represented twice as many pinboards as Food. Recently, Food has gained more ground than any other category and has become more popular than Style and Fashion among new pinboards created.

While searching Pinterest for heart-shaped foods, we found recipes that ranged from adorable -- tiny grape tomatoes sliced and rejoined to look like hearts -- to not so appetizing -- mini heart-shaped meatloaves.

We settled on some savory foods, such as pizza with heart-shaped pepperonis, and some sweet foods, such as marbled chocolate cheesecakes and red velvet sandwich cookies.

Some heart-shaped foods are easy to make, such as store-bought cinnamon rolls that are unrolled at the end, re-rolled, and pinched at the middle to create the point of a heart. Making others turned out to be a labor of love. But isn't that what the holiday is all about? HEART-SHAPED GRAPE TOMATOES

Skewered with toothpicks, these tomatoes make perfect decorations for martini or other cocktails. You can also use them to decorate a cheese tray or as antipasti. It will take some practice, and not all tomatoes were cut out to be hearts.

To make heart-shaped tomatoes:

1. Place grape tomato on cutting board. (I found that oblong tomatoes worked better.) Cut at a diagonal across the short side of the tomato.

2. Separate the two halves of the tomato.

3. Pick up one half of the cut tomato and rotate it 180 degrees (turn it upside down.)

4. Press the two tomato halves together, forming a heart, and skewer with a toothpick.

- adapted from Pinterest.com

HEART-SHAPED PIZZA

1. Using homemade or store-bought dough, stretch the dough into the shape of a heart and place on a cooking stone in oven. Cook according to dough directions.

2. For more heart appeal, trim pepperoni slices to look like hearts. If you have small heart-shaped cutters, it works even better.

The following recipe is easy, but using my cookie cutters to cut the hearts out of the cheesecake was a little messy. And, of course, there was some waste. If the waste bothers you, I suggest getting a couple pretty hearts cut out for your romantic dinner and then cut the rest into squares or bars.

MARBLED CHEESECAKE HEARTS

2 cups finely crushed cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies (about 24 cookies) 3 tablespoons butter, melted 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk 3 large eggs 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 2 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate

1. Heat oven to 300 degrees. Line a 13-by-9-inch baking pan with heavy foil; set aside. Combine cookie crumbs and butter in small bowl; press firmly into bottom of prepared pan.

2. Beat the cream cheese in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. Pour half the batter evenly over crust.

3. Stir melted chocolate into remaining batter; spoon over vanilla batter. Swirl chocolate batter through vanilla batter gently with knife or metal spatula to marbleize.

4. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until set. Cool. Chill at least 1 hour. Use foil to lift out of pan. For hearts, cut with heart-shaped cookie cutter or, with knife, cut around wax paper heart shape.

- adapted from Eagle Brand

RED VELVET SANDWICH COOKIES WITH CREAM CHEESE FILLING

Makes about 24 cookies or 12 cookie sandwiches

1 box red velvet cake mix 1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature 2 eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix ingredients until combined.

2. Using a pastry bag fitted with a wide tip, pipe the dough in a "V" shape about 2 inches long on a non-stick cookie sheet or a cookie sheet with parchment paper. It may take some practice to get the right shape for hearts, so start with a small batch of cookies, spaced a few inches apart because they will spread.

3. Bake for 10-12 minutes and cool.

CREAM CHEESE FILLING

1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened to room temperature 1 pound powdered sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla

1. In a mixer, cream butter, cream cheese and vanilla.

2. Gradually add sugar and mix until smooth.

3. Spread filling thinly on both sides of cooled red velvet cookies.

- adapted from Bakerella.com



Source: (c)2013 Tulsa World (Tulsa, Okla.). Distributed by MCT Information Services.


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