marshmallow hearts

By Mary Heyl

Nothing says “I love you” like the gift of your time! Make or bake a little something special for all the sweeties in your life: your friends and loved ones will love that you thought of them, and you’ll have fun making these easy treats. These DIY projects are fun to do on your own, but you can also include the kids, especially if you’re making treats for the class.

Kelly Ward’s Chocolate Marshmallow Cutouts are rich and fudgy, and you can even freeze the dough ahead of time if you plan to bake on a school night. To get started, in a large bowl, cream 1 ¼ cups of softened butter and 2 cups of sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in 2 large eggs and 2 teaspoons of vanilla.

In another bowl, whisk 2 cups of all-purpose flour, ¾ cup of baking cocoa, 1 teaspoon of baking soda and ½ teaspoon of salt; gradually beat into creamed mixture. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour or until the dough is firm enough to shape.

Next, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Shape level tablespoons of dough into balls and place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes or until cookies are set. Using a 1 ¼ inch heart-shaped cookie cutter, score the center of half of the cookies. Cool completely on pans on wire racks. Using the same cutter, gently cut the scored cookies and remove the center of each. Spread marshmallow cream over the uncut cookies and cover with the cut cookies (makes 2 dozen).

While Valentine’s Day is an especially romantic day for some, for others it’s one of the last holidays of winter—in Western New York, that’s really cause for celebration! Share the love (of spring!) with a Valentine’s seed starter: all you need is a mini mason jar, potting soil, seeds and a few decorative touches.

To get started, free-hand or use a small stencil to paint some designs on the outside of the jar (glass paint, available at craft stores, works best).  Allow to dry completely. Next, cover the bottom of the jar with some small pebbles or even coffee beans, which creates the drainage needed for the seeds when they are watered. Next, add potting soil to the jar, leaving enough room for the seeds and the soil coverage they require (check the package for details about how many seeds to use, how deep to plant and how much soil to cover them).

Add some water to the jar to get the seeds started. Get creative and use ribbon and cardstock to make a personalized card/tag for the jar, including watering instructions for the recipient. If you’re transporting the jar somewhere, be sure to put a lid on it, but tell the recipient to remove it as soon as possible to prevent mold growth.

If you have a few bags of candy and five minutes, then you have time to make these easy DIY Valentine’s poppers. Cut a toilet paper or paper towel tube in half. Fill both halves with candy, confetti, crinkle paper, mini erasers and more. Cut a length of wrapping paper to go around the tube, with about 2 inches of excess paper on each side. Fit the halves back together and tape the edge of the wrapping paper to each half. Tie curling ribbon around each end and trim the uneven paper edges. “Crack” the popper in the middle at the seam to reveal the treats!