Thursday, February 10, 2011

Lovin' allergen-free sweets for Valentine's Day

My kids have caught Valentine's Day fever. I much prefer it to the other kind of fever that has been lurking in my house for the past two weeks. Both kids have been in various stages of fighting the flu, fever, ear infection, sore throat and the accompanying misery. They are not out of the woods yet, so jumping into Valentine's Day seemed like a great way to perk them (and me) up.

They have been reading books with warm and fuzzy themes, playing concentration with heart-shaped cards, creating heart paintings and making crafts featuring what my 2-year-old calls "love hearts". Today, we started making desserts to celebrate.

Yes, I know there are still four days until the holiday. But I couldn't resist the huge strawberries at Whole Foods, knowing they were perfect to cover in melted chocolate. Pamela loved helping me dip the juicy strawberries in melted Enjoy Life semi-sweet chocolate chips, especially as she took a bite out of the sweet fruit. Those simple chocolate-covered strawberries delighted my husband and son, as well. We are all looking forward to the sweets we will whip up next.

There are so many yummy options for our allergen-free Valentine's Day desserts. Even starting four days early, we won't be able to make everything that catches our eyes. That wasn't the case when I tried to sweeten Joseph's first Valentine's Day after his diagnosis with life-threatening allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, milk, egg and soy. He was thrilled with the heart-shaped pancakes I made him when he was 1. But thankfully, during the past seven years I have greatly expanded my allergen-free baking repertoire and skills to match his much higher expectations. The recent explosion of allergen-free recipes and cookbooks has provided a plethora of delicious options and has made my job much easier.

Valentine's Day is a chance to make some desserts that have become part of our tradition, such as heart-shaped sugar cookies with frosting and homemade sugar sprinkles. Both kids also requested two must-have desserts that are favorites in our family. Pamela will be thrilled when she sinks her teeth into the fudge we make from the Divvies Bakery Cookbook "Oh Fudge" recipe. (I substitute Earth Balance dairy-free, soy-free Natural Buttery Spread for the margarine; Vance's DariFree milk alternative for the creamer; and Enjoy Life semi-sweet chocolate chips). Joseph can't wait to eat a big slice of red velvet cake thanks to Cybele Pascal's wonderful recipe for Red Velvet Cake with Velvet Frosting. This scrumptious cake, which we all enjoyed with orange-colored frosting for Halloween, will have fluffy pink frosting for this holiday.

We also look forward to trying new recipes. This year, I'm excited to make biscotti for my husband. It is a treat he has always enjoyed and I haven't yet tried my hand at an allergen-free version. So I was thrilled to see Mary Capone's recipe for Gluten-free Orange-Cherry Dipped Biscotti in the latest issue of Living Without magazine.

I still make heart-shaped chocolate chip pancakes, but I've tweaked them so they taste better now. I hope as my family enjoys the Valentine's Day treats that the only fever remaining in our house is for the holiday celebrating love.  

1 comment:

  1. The Allergy-Free Cook Bakes Cakes& Cookies is the companion book to The Allergy-Free Cook Bakes Bread that we have been awaiting.....for all those with gluten and other allergies, you don't have to deny these baked pleasures anymore! A digital sampler is available for review and hopefully you will recommend buying the book to your readers. Let me know if you need a hard copy. Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you. Mary Ellen, 931-964-3571 and