There is no more natural pair than chocolate and Valentine’s Day. With only 10 ingredients and no oven, impress your sweetheart with these three chocolate desserts: Dark Chocolate Buckeyes, Sweet and Salty Pretzels, and Cross My Heart Krispies. These treats are easy and fun, and perfect for getting the kids involved, too. The recipes are naturals for making big batches. These could be welcome gifts for friends or family, as we will largely celebrate the holiday at home this year due to the pandemic.
Ingredients TO MAKE ALL RECIPES
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
1 cup unsalted butter
6 cups confectioner’s sugar
6 cups Cocoa Krispies
1 bag marshmallows (10 ounces, or about 40)
Dark chocolate chips (full bag, 10 – 12 ounces)
White chocolate chips (half bag, 6 ounces)
Bar of paraffin (Gulf Wax)
Pretzels (Rold Gold Tiny Twists Original)
Red food coloring
Tools You’ll Need
• Mixing bowl
• Dutch oven
• Microwave and/or double boiler
• Parchment paper
• Heart-shaped pan (optional)
• Sheet pans
• Piping bags
• No. 5 round piping tip or plastic sandwich bag
• Individual bags and ties if giving as gifts
• Storage containers
Dark Chocolate Buckeyes
These surprisingly decadent candies are adapted from my grandmother’s recipe. In my house, they are a Christmas staple, but I’ve sexed them up with dark chocolate for a delicious Valentine’s Day delicacy. They are named after their resemblance to buckeyes, a tree nut that looks like a deer’s eye. That side of the family lives in Ohio, the Buckeye state, and I was born there. So, these sweets hold a special place in my heart.
Mix peanut butter and butter in a large bowl until well mixed. Add the confectioner’s sugar and mix with your hands until no more sugar is visible. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Roll into 1-inch balls and place on the sheet pan; cool inside the fridge until ready to dip.
Cross My Heart Krispies
While the balls are chilling, line a heart-shaped cake pan with parchment paper, making sure to leave edging that will allow you to pull out the mold later.
Place a Dutch oven over medium heat, melt a tablespoon of butter, and pour in marshmallows. Stir until completely melted.
Pour in Cocoa Krispies and stir until marshmallows are evenly distributed throughout the mixture. Dump into the heart-shaped pan and use greased or buttered hands to shape the mixture into the mold and level the top. Set aside.
In a double boiler, melt ⅓ of a bar of paraffin with the bag of dark chocolate chips. If you are using candy melts, you do not need the wax. If using bar chocolate or regular chips, the wax thins out the chocolate for easy coating and gives the candy an extra shine.
If you don’t have a double boiler (most of us don’t), you can boil water in a Dutch oven and then use a saucepan on top of the water. Alternatively, you can microwave the chocolate 20 – 30 seconds at a time until melted. If using the microwave, cut the wax into small pieces so it will melt evenly. It’s a tad harder to melt than the chocolate.
Once the chocolate is free of lumps and silky, insert a toothpick and dip each peanut butter ball into the chocolate, leaving a small area free of chocolate around the toothpick. Allow the extra chocolate to drip off and place back onto the parchment-lined sheet pan. Repeat until every piece is coated. Place back into the refrigerator.
Sweet & Salty Pretzels
Next, line another sheet pan with parchment paper.
Drop three pretzels at a time into the chocolate, coat well, shake off excess chocolate, and place one pretzel at a time onto the sheet pan. Make as many as you’d like but be sure to reserve a couple of tablespoons of the chocolate for drizzling. Place into the fridge to set.
Fit a piping bag with a No. 5 round tip. If you have neither, you can cut a small hole on the edge of a sandwich bag and it will produce the same effect. Add the remaining melted chocolate and drizzle over the pretzels in a sweeping motion.
Flip the mold onto a flat surface and carefully remove parchment paper. Drizzle chocolate from side to side across the heart. Clean double boiler and piping tools. Melt half a bag of the white chocolate chips in the double boiler. Put half the chocolate into the piping bag. Drizzle white chocolate over the pretzels. Drizzle white chocolate in a diagonal direction across the surface of the heart.
Add red food coloring to the remaining chocolate, to your preference of how pink or red you wish it to be. Drizzle the pink chocolate over the pretzels. Across the top of the heart, drizzle the chocolate in a diagonal pattern, in the opposite direction from the white chocolate. Let it set.
Enjoy the full spread of sweet and salty treats, whether for the whole family, or just the two of you.
If you plan to give them as gifts, package them individually in clear treat bags, which you can get at any local grocery or craft store. Don’t put the buckeyes and pretzels together in the same bag because the pretzels are fragile. Individually wrap the Krispies in clear plastic wrap before putting them in bags, to keep them from drying out. Another option is purchasing tins (or plastic containers) and separating the candies with parchment paper or cardboard inserts. Most stores have printed treat bags and containers for every holiday, so you’re sure to find heart-shaped or pink and red treat bags.
Written and Photography by Tracy Patrick
Originally published in Neighbors magazine | 2021