When I was a kid, one of my favorite holidays was Valentine’s Day. I used to spend hours working on Valentine’s cards for my classmates at school, paying extra attention to those meant for my closest friends. And while Valentine’s Day has become something more of a romantic holiday with age, I still like to keep true to the spirit of my childhood. That’s why, this year, I’m preparing to indulge my friends and family with something extra fun: heart-shaped brownies.
Heart-shaped brownies are great for Valentine’s Day gifts. You can use a boxed mix if you’re short on time, but I prefer to make my own, especially since ‘cakey’ brownies tend to hold their shape a little better. This triple-chocolate fudge brownie recipe from Epicurious is not only delicious, but it’s also perfect for this project:
Triple-Chocolate Fudge Brownies
Makes 24 Brownies
• 6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
• 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
• 3/4 cup unsalted butter
• 1 1/2 cups sugar
• 2 teaspoons vanilla
• 4 large eggs
• 1 tsp. salt
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Allow a few inches of the parchment to hang over the sides so that you can use the ends as handles later on.
Prepare a double broiler, and turn the stove on high until the water begins to bubble. Reduce heat to medium-low. Melt the bittersweet chocolate, unsweetened chocolate, and butter in the top of the double broiler, and stir until the mixture is smooth and uniform. Remove from heat and cool until lukewarm.
Stir in the vanilla and sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure they are well incorporated after each addition. Stir in the flour and salt until the mixture has just combined, and stir in the chocolate chips.
Pour the brownie batter into the parchment-lined baking pan, and spread evenly. Place pan in the oven on the middle rack, and bake for 25-30 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out with crumbs sticking to it. Remove from oven, and cool completely.
To make heart-shaped brownies, remove the entire brownie from the baking pan by gently lifting the overhanging edges of parchment paper. Place on a cutting board or any other flat surface, and, using a heart-shaped cookie cutter, press the cut-outs. Gently remove them from the cookie cutter onto a separate plate.
Once your brownies are cut, decorate them as you please. I kept mine plain this year because the recipe I used was so rich, but you could always dust them lightly with powdered sugar, dip them in chocolate, or decorate them with frosting (make sure your frosting or chocolate is completely dry before packaging).
Wrap your brownies in small cellophane bags or plastic wrap, and secure with your favorite heart-shaped label from MOL – I chose Luxe heart-shaped labels in deep red. For my main packaging, I decided to use gift boxes because they’re so fun to decorate and customize. I glued paper doilies and scrap paper to the top with my personalized Rococo labels, and tied on some craft thread in Valentine’s Day colors. If you have small heart-shaped cookie cutters, these heart clasp boxes would be another great packaging option.