Serve up a plate of true romance by employing our quick methods to make your food sing with the spirit of Valentine’s Day...
According to our site’s statistics, when it comes to Valentine’s Day, you’re all about serving steak, chocolate, seafood and cocktails. But, if you haven’t time to put on a lavish feast, everyday food can be transformed into a romantic gesture by clever shaping, sprinkling or garnishing. Read our tips for making food romantic, the easy way...
1. Cutters and tins
If you have time to plan ahead, inexpensive kit can help make life a lot easier come 14th February. A set of different heart-shaped metal cutters can not only be used for stamping designs into biscuit dough or cooked sponge, but they can be used to shape pancakes. Plastic cutters may be a little thriftier, but we wouldn’t recommend placing them in a hot pan.
Set of seven Wilton metal heart cutters, £6.69 from Cake Craft Shop
Stamp-like plunger cutters are ideal for making decorative icing hearts for cake toppings.
Set of three heart-shaped plunger cutters, £9.14, from Cake Craft Shop
A spring form, heart-shaped baking tin can be used for cakes or pies, or if you prefer to pop your bake out of a soft mould, pick up a silicone version.
Roses are the floral mascot for team romance, and if you pick up the right kind they’re completely edible too. Dried petals and buds can be used in savoury dishes or to infuse drinks as well as for decorating cakes. Ready-crystalised petals have a sugar coating and work best with desserts. If you want an extra touch of floral flavour
Rose petals, £2.50, rose buds, £2.95, crystalised rose petals, £5.95, all from Sous Chef
Meadowsweet Flowers stock a stunning range of sugared whole flowers if you’re not a rose fan – pick from pansies, geraniums, lavender and much more beyond.
If you’re up for a spot of DIY, you can crystalise your own flower petals – standard English rose petals are edible as long as they’ve not been sprayed with chemicals or pesticides. To be safe, either use those from your own garden or those produced by an organic grower. Brush the petals with egg white and dust with caster sugar - watch our video guide to help you achieve the perfect frosty finish.
3. Sugar loving
Head to the baking aisle of most supermarkets and you should find a good range of cake decorating goodies. Coloured sugar in pink or red is ideal for creating patterns on iced sponges. Try icing a cake with buttercream, then making out a heart using a skewer. Then, pour your sugar into a piping bag and use the skewered outline as a guide. Our video shows you how.
Pink shimmering sugar, 75g, £1.25 from Waitrose
4. Use your spares
If you’re making a Valentine’s pie or tart, cut away any surplus pasty dangling from the edges of the dish, arrange them into a ball then roll out and cut hearts or letters using a cutter or small, sharp kitchen knife. This method works well with shortcrust and puff pastry, and by adding a sprinkling of sesame or poppy seeds the hearts really stand out.
5. Go freeform
Turn regular old biscuits into heart-shaped beauties with two clever techniques. Firstly, roll the raw dough into balls then squish two together and pinch the base into a point. Then, flatten the conjoined balls with your palm to create a rough heart shape. To complete the look, use your thumbs to press a heart-shaped dent into the biscuit. Fill it with jam then bake until the biscuits are golden.
6. Perfect pizza
7. The big dip
Turn a sofa snack into something special by using a heart cutter or clever knife skills to shape baked potato skins into hearts before baking until crisp. To really turn up the heat, serve them with a spicy dip – try homemade harissa blended with cream cheese or yogurt.
8. Get it pom’
Jewel-like, shimmery, pink-red pomegranate seeds are romantic by their very nature. Use them as a quick – and healthy – garnish for cheesecakes or savoury dishes. We like the idea of a pomegranate heart atop this layered houmous dip or instant flatbread pizzas.
9. See red
Chocolate and Valentine’s Day are practically inseparable, but if you want to go one further create a red velvet cake by using beetroot juice and red colouring to give a deep crimson shade to chocolate sponge. Decorate it with white buttercream frosting to really set the colour off, then raspberries or heart sweets can be used as a garnish. Red food colouring can be used in small doses in pancake batter, biscuits and drinks too.
10. Display piping prowess
Our kitchen assistant, Chelsie, recommends piping macaroon mixture into hearts before baking. Alternatively, throw a romantic spin on these Spanish churros doughnuts by piping them into a heart shape onto baking paper then deep-frying until crisp. You could add a touch of chilli to the chocolate dipping sauce, too.
Will you be creating a Valentine’s Day feast this year? And do you know of any clever tips for making your food extra-romantic? If you're a traditionalist, we have lots of Valentine's Day recipe inspiration, too.