Ice Cream/Frozen Desserts

26 Valentine’s Day Desserts You Can Make Right Now

January 17, 2020

I’m less of a Valentine’s Day gal and more of a Galentine’s Day gal. But I appreciate both holidays for the same reason—a perfect excuse to make that dessert recipe I’ve been eyeing up for months. Chocolate is classic, but anything sweet is, well, a sweet gesture for that special someone, a significant other or oldest friend or yourself or all of the above.

This year, Valentine’s Day is on a Friday (and Galentine’s on Thursday), so the trick will be finding a dessert you can make beforehand without feeling frenzied—if anything is a total buzzkill, it’s stress. This year, let’s not do that. Let’s plan ahead. Forethought is sexy!

The good news is: Plenty of desserts can be prepared from start to finish, then frozen, and this doesn’t diminish their quality. Think of it like recipe hibernation. A weekend project now, a pat on the back (or a little smooch?!) in a couple weeks. Happy Valentine’s Day to you.


Ice Cream

I need not tell you that ice cream, ahem, freezes well. But I will say this: Remember to pull it out 15 or so minutes before you want to eat. This way, you can enjoy a creamy, melty scoop, not an icy block.

1. Lemon, Blackberry, And Poppy Seed Ice Cream

Take one look at this, and you know it's festive. It can easily be made with frozen and thawed blackberries to enjoy even in the dead of winter.

2. Malted Vanilla Ice Cream With Chocolate-Covered Pretzels

A grown-up version of Ben & Jerry's Chubby Hubby. It's got a bit of salt, a satisfying crunch, and deep, caramelly malt flavor.

3. Thai Iced Tea Ice Cream

Your favorite caffeinated, condense milk-laden drink, package up in a cold, creamy scoop (or two!).

4. Preserved Lemon Ice Cream

Preserved lemons have a salty, unctuous flavor as-is; packing it into ice cream with a generous pour of fruity olive oil increases this savory and not-too-sweet vibe, in a wonderful way.

5. Honeycomb Ice Cream

How about a little honey ice cream for your honey? There's a riotous burst of flavors and textures in every bite, with crunchy honeycomb candy rippled throughout a creamy honey-flavored custard base.


Cakes

Well-wrapped cakes are so happy to hang out in the freezer. If you’re making a frosted cake, you can freeze the layers, then thaw—at room temperature, not in the fridge—and build while still very cold. (This actually makes frosting easier—fewer crumbs.) But this holiday doesn’t need all that fuss. These everyday showstoppers ask less of you: just a shower of powdered sugar or scoop of ice cream and they’re ready for date night.

6. Maialino's Olive Oil Cake

Here's a gorgeously moist, delicately sweetened cake, and one of our most Genius recipes of all time for a reason: It rocks. When you're ready to serve, op with roasted strawberries, compote, whipped cream, or all of the above.

7. Louisa's Cake

This unbeatable cake is simple as can be, with butter, sugar, flour, airy ricotta, and a tangle of grated apple (though you could easily use pear, if you like that better). One community member raves that it's "Quite possibly the best recipe on the internet."

8. Chocolate Bundt Cake

Meet your new-favorite bundt: It's fudgy-as-heck and intensely chocolatey, thanks to cocoa power and full cup of brewed coffee (which amps up the chocolate flavor, don't you know!).

9. One-Bowl Vanilla Cake

Simple and entirely customizable, you'll want to memorize this foolproof recipe. Try adding aromatic seeds, like fennel or sesame, spices, like saffron or cardamom, or citrus zest.

10. Flourless Pecan Cake

What do you get when you cross a pecan sandy and Angel food cake? This stunner. Top it with your favorite buttercream or eat it just as it is.


Cookies

You can freeze cookies two ways. One: formed. So scoop your oatmeal-raisin, roll and cut out your sugar cookies, etc. Then freeze on a sheet tray and collect into a plastic bag. Two: baked. Complete the recipe from start to finish, let cool completely, then freeze in a plastic bag. My rule: If the cookies are great warm (hi, chocolate chips), I’ll freeze them formed and bake to order (no scented candle can beat the smell of just-baked cookies). But if they would have to cool anyway before eating (hey, shortbread), I’ll freeze them baked.

11. Secret Cookies

Buttery, crumbly, and just a touch salty, these cookies were typically gifts from co-founder Merrill Stubbs to her teachers growing up. We'd like someone to give them to us, too.

12. Linzer Cookies

What cookie could be more perfect for the occasion? If you want to make these in advance, simply freeze the pre-baked heart shapes, then defrost and fill with jam when you're ready to serve.

13. Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

You can't beat a classic—especially not a classic from the Cookie Queen. Rolled oats and a little less sugar makes these extra-chewy and extra-chocolatey.

14. My Ginger Cookies

For sugar, spice, and a little kick from crystallized ginger, look no further.

15. Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies smack you in the face with their flavor, in a good way: Slightly bitter, shockingly dark black cocoa powder combines with creamy, salty peanut butter to create the perfect backdrop for chocolate chips.

16. Oatmeal Cookies

Recipe author Mr_Vittles calls these "simply the best oatmeal cookies I have ever eaten." Believe Mr_Vittles.


Bars

Three ways to freeze bars: One, uncut, in their natural state (do this only if you’re planning to eat the whole pan post-thaw). Two, cookie-style—cut into squares (itty-bitty ones are all the better to feed each other with), frozen on a plate, then transferred to a plastic bag. Three, cut into squares and wrapped individually.

17. Coconut Dream Bars

Chock-full of shredded coconut, walnuts, and brown sugar, these dream bars have strong macaroon vibes with the added bonus of a buttery, crispy shortbread crust.

18. Sugar Cookie Bars

Puffy, tender sugar cookies get supersized here, resulting in a blondie-like texture and greater ease (no rolling or shaping here).

19. Malted Chocolate Chunk Cookie Bars

These nutty, malty, and extra-chocolatey bars would welcome—no, beg for!—a sprinkle of flaky salt on top.

20. Magic Espresso Brownies

So good, they're magic. This recipe makes a lot of brownie bites, so you can spare a few for your sweetie.

21. Cook's Illustrated Blondies

These vanilla-rich blondies were born to be eaten straight from the fridge or freezer—so here's your permission to.


Chocolates

Nothing says Valentine’s/Galentine’s Day like dressed-up chocolate. If you want to go all out, make a few varieties and freeze in a petite, pretty box. No hints—only tasting and guessing—for that you-never-know-what-you’re-gonna-get effect.

22. Nama Chocolate

This is a great recipe to make someone think you're a chocolatier when you're not. Good-quality chocolate is key for these truffles.

23. Hazelnut Brittle With Chocolate

Like your favorite chocolate-hazelnut spread, but crunchier and punchier.

24. Scottish Toffee

Rich, buttery, nutty, and so-simple, this toffee is ready to be made in big batches and given to everyone you love (especially yourself).

25. White Chocolate Bark with Candied Ginger & Pistachios

Bark with a bit of a bark! The candied ginger, roasted pistachios, and citrus zest take mild white chocolate to the next level.

26. Salted Maple Honeycomb Candy

This candy is a "miracle of science" and a darn-good snack, to boot. A sprinkle of flaky salt never hurt anyone—try that on for size here.

Do you have any romantic dessert traditions? Share your tips and tricks in the comments below!

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Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

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Sita R. February 3, 2020
Emma you Rock!!! I look forward to everything you write. Don't always agree but you make me think, which is sometimes difficult at my age
 
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Emma L. February 3, 2020
Thanks for the kind words, Sita :)
 
Soccer P. January 18, 2020
All of these desserts look so good!! My class will be thrilled to have these at the Valentine's Day party!!!