Have you ever woken up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night, worried that you gave your sweetheart the wrong dessert? I know, I know, it happens to the best of us. Is she/he wondering about your commitment to the relationship after you gave her some measly shortbread cookies? Or what if they're expecting you to pop the question after you gave some super fancy chocolate truffles?
Dessert. It's a complicated and weighty thing.
But never fear, Monica and I are here to help. We'll guide you through the subtleties and sub-texts of Valentine's Day dessert.
We gave the following desserts two different rankings:
- Romance Score: On a scale of 1 to 10, we oh-so-scientifically ranked desserts by how romantic they were
- Romance to Labor Value: We then divided desserts' romance level by the amount of effort it took to make them, assigning them a score from 0.0 to 1.0, with 0 being low romance-high effort and 1 being high romance-low effort
So enjoy, good luck baking/gifting, and if it all goes horribly wrong, well, I'm sure we'll be happy to try our hand at relationship counseling too.
-Caroline & Monica
10. Abbracci Cookies
Romance Score: 1/10
Romance-to-Labor Value: 0.20
These abbracci cookies are cute and delicious, don't get us wrong, but they're more of a curl-up-by-yourself-with-a-book-and-a-cup-of-tea kind of dessert. Plus, shaping the shortbread rounds takes a while, requiring you to put more effort in than the romance you get out of them. Translating to "hug," in Italian, these may be the cookie equivalent of friend-zoning.
9. Lavender Sablé Cookies
Romance Score: 2.5/10
Romance-to-Labor Value: 0.35
Another shortbread cookie, these guys are somewhat more romantic because they have a fancy French name. Plus, these are fairly easy slice-and-bake cookies, and you can dress them up or down with chocolate decorations. And if your Valentine doesn't seem sufficiently impressed, just declare "sablés!" as you present them and I'm sure they'll be blown away by your French. Practice in front of the mirror a couple of times, just to make sure you really nail down that accent.
8. Petit Fours
Romance Score: 4.5/10
Romance-to-Labor Value: 0.08
These petit fours are pink and decorated, significantly upping the romance. They're quite time-consuming--definitely a labor of love, and it shows. A little plate piled high with these cakes would be a very cute gift. However, they might be a teensy bit too pink, a bit too reminiscent of a princess tea party.
7. Nutella Hand Pies
Romance Score: 5/10
Romance-to-Labor Value: 0.45
We admit that these hand pies give a bit of a mixed message. The heart shape and chocolate filling is of course suggestive, but pies fall squarely in the category of comfort food or picnic food. If you make these, be careful not to cause too much confusion over your intentions...you wouldn't want to be accused of trifling with someone's affections now, would you?
6. Raspberry Meringue Cheesecake
Romance Score: 6.5/10
Romance-to-Labor Value: 0.30
This cheesecake is elegant (raspberry pastry cream, hello!), yet also kind of fun with the cloud of marshmallow meringue. Romantic without being too suggestive, this is a good dessert for the commitment-shy.
5. Linzer Heart Cookies
Romance Score: 8/10
Romance-to-Labor Value: 0.40
The third shortbread recipe in our line up, these are by far the classiest and most romantic. Dressed up as heart-shaped jam sandwich cookies and placed in a nice box, they would make quite an impressive gift. They're also a good option if your Valentine doesn't like chocolate. And if you don't know whether they do or not, well, this might be a good safety measure since Valentine's Day seems like an awkward time to do have the I-don't-like-chocolate-but-thanks-for-the-big-box-of-truffles-anyways conversation.
4. Dark Chocolate Truffles
Romance Score: 8/10
Romance-to-Labor Value: 0.85
For those of you who are more confident in your sweetheart's likes and dislikes, consider some chocolate truffles. There's just something about homemade chocolate candies that make people ooh and ah. Plus these chocolates require very little work, perfect for those of you looking for a low-effort, high-reward Valentine's Day.
3. Red Velvet Cupcakes
Romance Score: 8.5/10
Romance-to-Labor Value: 0.70
An old-y but goody, these little bright red cakes scream "Valentine's Day" like nothing else. While most of the desserts on our list are small finger foods, these cupcakes can be shared, which can lead to all sorts of cozy romantic situations. It's a Lady and Tramp moment just waiting to happen.
2. Chocolate-Covered Strawberries
Romance Score: 9.5/10
Romance-to-Labor Value: 1.0
These strawberries are elegant, classy, and require almost no effort. They're no bake and you really don't need any sort of cooking skills beyond melting chocolate. Throw them into a fancy box, and your Valentine will be so very impressed. They'll think that you labored over them all day, and who's to correct them? Though we really don't condone such deception in a relationship, we'll make an exception here.
1. Rose Macarons
Romance Score: 10/10
Romance-to-Labor Value: 0.5
These macarons are, in our humble opinion, the epitome of romantic desserts. The combination of fancy French dessert + pink + roses strikes every romantic cord you can think of. We're talking diamond-ring-on-your-knees-in-front-of-the-Eiffel-Tower kind of romantic. Just make sure you're not raising anyone's expectations higher than you ought; macarons take commitment, you know.
Still want more Valentine's Day ideas? Here are some more desserts covering all degrees of romance.