Welcome to Chocolate Candy Mall's monthly chocolate candy newsletter, Charmingly Chocolate. This month you'll find homemade valentine gifts to help you spoil your loved ones without breaking your budget, as well as good gifts for valentines when you do want to splurge.

February 2, 2009 - Issue #21 - Homemade Valentine Gift Ideas

It's that time of year again, Valentine's Day! I know it's commercial and a money making holiday for merchants, but I do love Valentine's Day. :)

It's a great excuse to think of clever little ways to let the ones you love know how special they are to you. You don't have to go out and spend a lot of money on Valentine's Day traditions. You can create your own Valentine's Day traditions!

Now's as good a time as any to tell you about my Valentine Ideas Contest! That's right, there are delicious prizes and everything.

homemade valentine gifts contest All you have to do to enter is share your favorite Valentine recipes, craft ideas, or gift ideas. It's that simple. My panel of judges will help choose the top four entries to receive the chocolate candy gift baskets and gift cards that were donated by our sponsors.

Your entry has to be in by Valentine's Day, so don't put it off or you'll forget completely! It's going to be a lot of fun, so don't miss out!

Enter Now!

Homemade Valentine Gifts - Ideas to get you started

I found a couple of cute and clever recipe ideas for Valentine's Day that I thought you'd really enjoy. One of my favorite places to look for creative ideas is Family Fun.

I order the Family Fun magazine each year for my sister and niece because it's always so full of great ideas they can use with their children. I have to admit, I love them as much as the kids do!

"I Choo-Choose You" Cupcakes Recipe

homemade valentine gifts cupcakesNeed something to send to school with the kids? How about a treat for your Sunday School class? This clever idea can be used for all ages and occasions.

Items Needed:
  • Cupcakes made from your favorite recipe or boxed mix.
  • Frosting - white is shown in the photo, but you can really use whatever you prefer.
  • Little Tootsie Rolls - the short fat kind; one for each cupcake
  • Toothpicks
  • Red Licorice - Twizzlers will do
  • Mini Reese's cups (or generic brand)
  • Red Hot candies or something similar for the wheels
  • Tube of gel icing to draw the train tracks
  • White paper, marker, scissors for making the puff of steam "message"

  1. Frost your cooled cupcakes.

  2. To build the engine, it is actually easier to work on a piece of waxed paper on the counter and then add the finished train to the cupcake once the main part is built.

    Start with one of the Tootsie rolls, unwrapped. It has little indentations in it sectioning it off into thirds. Just cut off the back third and press it on top of one end of the remaining piece to form the main part of the engine body.

  3. Cut a 1/2 inch piece of red licorice (Twizzler) and secure it with a toothpick into the front of the engine like a smokestack. Place the train on the cupcake.

  4. Cut a mini Reese cup in half and use one half, upside down to form the front of the engine like a cowcatcher.

  5. Place the red hots or other candies along each side to form the wheels.

  6. Pipe the train tracks on the cupcake in front of and behind the candy train. If you prefer, you can use skinny string licorice rather than gel icing to form the tracks.

  7. Draw and cut out wisps of steam from the paper and write the message, "I Choo-choose you!" on each one and tape it to the toothpick like it is coming out of the smokestack.
Isn't that too cute? I bet your kids would love them to pass out to their friends or even enjoy them as a special treat from you to them. They may want to get in on the act by helping to build the trains themselves.

Conversation Heart Fudge Recipe

homemade valentine gifts fudgeFudge is always a great idea. Not many people can resist. These little bite-sized pieces would be great to take to the office, club, school, or present on a platter to your family or guests on Valentine's Day.

This Valentine fudge recipe is in layers. Here's how to make them...

Dark chocolate layer:
  • 1 1/4 cups milk, dark, or semisweet chocolate chips or pieces
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • Dash of salt
White chocolate layer:
  • 1 1/4 cups white chocolate chips or pieces
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • Dash of salt
Other ingredients and materials:
  • Aluminum foil
  • 64 conversation heart candies
  • 64 mini muffin cups - red foil bonbon cups are perfect
  • cellophane wrap, clear or red would be good for Valentines Day. You'll need to cut it into 64 rectangles about 5x6 inches.
  • Pipe cleaners cut in one inch pieces for securing the ends of the wrapped fudge pieces. Sparkly pipe cleaners in red, pink, or silver would be pretty, but you can improvise if needed.

  1. Start by lining an 8x8 pan with the foil.

  2. Melt the darker chocolate, condensed milk, and salt together in a microwave safe bowl until smooth. Only heat the mixture for 30 seconds at a time, stirring each time, so you don't overheat the chocolate.

  3. Pour the melted chocolate in the foil lined pan and spread it out as evenly as possible with a spatula. Allow to set.

  4. Repeat with the white chocolate layer, but only heat for 20 seconds at a time. White chocolate melts faster and also burns faster.

  5. Before the top layer sets completely, score the top with a knife to form 1-inch squares and put a conversation heart in the middle of each one, pressing gently to be sure it sticks.

  6. Chill to set the fudge and then remove the slab from the pan. Use a large kitchen knife to cut through the pieces where you scored it earlier. Remove foil.

  7. Place each fudge square in a mini cup and wrap in one of the cellophane rectangles. Twist the ends like a piece of wrapped candy and secure with the pipe cleaner pieces.

These candies actually look really nice and even a touch classy with the cellophane wrapper. Who wouldn't enjoy receiving these Valentine fudge pieces as a homemade valentine gift? And really, they are so small, no one has to feel guilty for indulging in one or two, now do they?

Good Gifts For Valentine's Day

If you aren't the "creative type" or don't have the time or desire to make your own homemade valentine gifts, never fear. There are plenty of really great places to buy something that your loved ones will really enjoy.

Whether you want chocolate, or something else entirely to spoil someone you love, here are a few of my favorite ideas...

  • Just Because Baskets - A gift basket is always appreciated when it is full of goodies.
  • Valentine's Day Mint Meltaway Swirl Heart Box - From Fannie May Candies. They also have chocolate covered strawberries and other mouthwatering delights. (Save 15% on orders of $39 or more by using coupon code 10336).
  • zChocolat.com - If you want to blow someone's socks off!
  • Smart Gift Solutions - Particularly for those in the UK; lovely ideas, affordable prices, and low shipping costs. What's not to like?
  • deLaFlowers - Sometimes flowers are a must! You can save 15% off your flower purchase if you use coupon code: 15SAVINGS
  • Things Remembered - When you want something personalized and very memorable.

Surely you can find something appropriate from that list! I know I'd love something from any or all of those places. Maybe I'm easy to please, but I think most people are. It's knowing that you are thought of and loved that really counts.

That's it for this month!

Don't forget to enter the contest!!! I'm really looking forward to reading your ideas and seeing what you've created.

If you have a friend who you think may enjoy "Charmingly Chocolate," do me a favor and forward this issue to them. If someone DID pass this on to you and you like what you see, please subscribe to future issues by visiting Charmingly Chocolate and signing up. Thanks!

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I hope you enjoyed this issue of Charmingly Chocolate. If you have any feedback or comments you'd like to share with me, just reply to this zine and let me know. I'd love to hear from you.

Happy Valentine's Day!
- Angie :)

P.S. If you haven't done so yet, you may want to get your taxes filed before time gets away from you. It's easy to E-File and get a refund quickly. That will be one less thing on your mind and it seems a lot of people are needing the extra cash.

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