A Homemade Box of Chocolates

Kick the standard Valentine's box of chocolates up a few notches by skipping the sweets shop in favor of your own kitchen. Homemade chocolates are surprisingly easy to make, and you can tailor the selection to your sweetheart's tastes, whether homey Chocolate and Peanut Butter Nougat Squares, spiced Cardamom-Infused Milk Chocolate Truffles, or retro-classic Chocolate-Covered Cherry Cordials. Wrapped in fancy tissue or simply served on a beautiful dessert plate, it's a romantic treat far more elegant than anything you could buy in the store. If you choose to go all out and make 3 or 4 recipes in full, you'll have enough to mix-and-match several assorted edible valentines for all your friends and loved ones-with many leftover for sampling, of course!
Chocolate and Peanut Butter Nougat Squares
The silky-smooth chocolate coating and flaky sea salt garnish may look sophisticated, but the flavor doesn't lie: these salty-sweet squares are a grown up version of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

Get the recipe for Chocolate and Peanut Butter Nougat Squares »


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RECIPE: Spiced Milk Chocolate Truffles
In this simple recipe, milk chocolate truffles are coated in spice-laced cocoa powder for a hint of the exotic. We recommend cardamom, but you could also try substituting chili powder, cinnamon, or very finely chopped nuts.

INGREDIENTS
½ cup heavy cream
2 tbsp. light corn syrup
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
12 oz. milk chocolate, chopped
1 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
2 tbsp. ground cardamom

INSTRUCTIONS 1. Combine cream, corn syrup, and butter in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until mixture just begins to boil, then remove from heat. Add chocolate and stir with a rubber spatula until smooth. Pour mixture into a 9" x 13" baking dish and cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour. Remove chocolate mixture from refrigerator and transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle. Beat on medium speed until smooth, about 30 seconds; turn off mixer and let sit for 5 minutes. Using a teaspoon-size measuring spoon, portion mixture and roll by hand into rough balls; place balls on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and refrigerate truffles until chilled.

2. Whisk together cocoa powder and cardamom in a medium bowl. Working in batches, toss chilled truffles in cocoa mixture until evenly coated. Shake off excess cocoa powder and return each truffle to baking sheet. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


Vanilla Cream Fudge
Not every Valentine's Day sweet needs to have chocolate as the centerpiece! These melt-in-your-mouth fudge squares are a cinch to make, and provide a nice flavor contrast on your tray of assorted homemade treats.

Get the recipe for Vanilla Cream Fudge »

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Classic Chocolate Truffles
These truffles look beautiful rolled in dried coconut. Adding espresso powder and vanilla to the chocolate mixture in these truffles makes the chocolate flavor more complex and intense.

Get the recipe for Classic Chocolate Truffles »

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Chocolate-Covered Cherry Cordials
What box of chocolates could be complete without a chocolate covered cherry? These cherry cordials are a welcome twist on the classic. Once you've made the cordials, it will take about ten days for the filling to liquefy, so plan ahead accordingly.

Get the recipe for Chocolate-Covered Cherry Cordials »

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RECIPE: Hazelnut and Apricot Rochers
Almost any kind of nut, seed, or dried fruit can be used for these easy-to-make chocolate coated clusters.

MAKES 24 CANDIES

INGREDIENTS
1 cup roughly chopped hazelnuts
1 tbsp. Frangelico or other hazelnut liqueur
1 tbsp. sugar
½ cup finely chopped dried apricots
4 oz. semisweet chocolate
1 tsp. vegetable shortening

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Heat oven to 350°. Combine hazelnuts and liqueur in a medium bowl and let sit for 10 minutes. Add sugar and toss to coat; spread nuts in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake, stirring occasionally, until toasted, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool; add apricots and set aside.

2. Combine chocolate and shortening in a heat-proof bowl and set over a pot of simmering water. Heat, stirring often, until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Remove bowl from pot and let chocolate mixture cool until an instant-read thermometer reads to 89°. Working in four batches, combine 1/4 of the reserved nut mixture and 1/4 of the melted chocolate in a small bowl until nut mixture is coated with chocolate; there should be only enough chocolate to keep the mixture together. Using a tablespoon-size measuring spoon, spoon mixture into mounds on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet; repeat with remaining nut mixture and chocolate. (If chocolate mixture drops below 86°, heat it again, stirring constantly, until it returns to 89°, and then continue mixing with nut mixture.) Let rochers cool and set before serving.

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