Valentine's Day can be a tricky holiday. Do you play it safe with roses and a heart-shaped box of candy? Go all out with a big romantic dinner? Or maybe nothing says love to you like homemade.
Here are ideas to fire your romantic imagination, with an emphasis on local. They're sure to bring a smile to your sweetie's face.
■ Try your hand at making something special like sweetie pies, a heart-shaped pastries filled with jam. A good jam to use would be Mrs. Toad's Jam, available online at Threetoadsfarm.com or at Mulberry & Lime in Lexington and Court Street Gifts in Winchester.
Simply make a pie dough — or use a store-brought pre-made variety — cut out heart-shapes with your heart-shaped cookie cutter and plop a dollop of jam in the center of one of the hearts. Attach another piece of crust on top, seal it with fork tines and bake — according to temperature on your recipe or crust packaging — for 8-10 minutes. Icing and sprinkles are optional
For more wow, Three Toads will also have blooming white lilies. Order a bouquet for $27 plus a $5 delivery fee. (859) 771-2085.
■ Looking for an alternative to Valentine's Day chocolates? Try Modjeskas, made by Bauer's Candies of Lawrenceburg. The original hand-made marshmallow covered in caramel also comes in a version with dark chocolate. You can order from Bauerscandy.com or pick it up at Bauer's Candy's at 1103 Dylan Drive in Lawrenceburg. In Lexington, they are available at Old Kentucky Chocolates, which also has bourbon balls, truffles and other kinds of decadent delights. And while we're talking chocolate candy, check out Rebecca Ruth, Ruth Hunt and Sharp's Candies for more great local candy options.
■ Does your sweetie have a sweet tooth but you don't feel like cooking? Local bakeries have lots to choose from. Martine's Pastries, 1039 Industry Road, has a menu of sweet specials available for pickup at the shop through Valentine's Day or order by phone, (859) 231-9110. And the shop will be open until 5 p.m. Valentine's Day, in case of emergencies. Bakery Blessings & Bookstore @ the Bar also has a cake for you. It's heart-shaped, either chocolate with strawberry filling or strawberry with chocolate filling and you can choose the message. It's $20.50. Call (859) 554-6054 to order. Donut Days has a whole slew of heart-shaped and iced delights, including petit fours, cookies, cakes and, of course, doughnuts. Call (859) 277-9414 on Southland Drive or (859) 269-8223 on Euclid Avenue.
In Danville, Burke's Bakery at 121 West Main Street can add the name of your sweetie to a petit four for you. Call (859) 236-5661. And BabyCakes Cupcakes, 1616 Liberty Road, will have red velvet cupcakes with white chocolate icing and sprinkles for $2 or $22 for a dozen. Call (859) 317-9619.
■ Maybe your love runs more to the savory side? Nothing says love like bacon. Except maybe locally sourced bacon. Good Foods Co-op has Stonecross Farm smoked bacon. You can make it even more romantic by fashioning hearts out of two strips, then baking. But why bother, when Good Foods will have the bacon at their chocolate event on Friday? That's right, bacon dipped in chocolate. You can sample, then pick up a box in their "grab and go" section, cooked in house and dipped in chocolate, for $3. Good Foods will have chocolate a dozen ways, all free for sampling, from 5 to 7 p.m., so if bacon doesn't suit, something else might. Or order a bacon bouquet from Wild Thyme Cooking, (859) 523-2665.
■ Another alternative to the box of candy: A bottle of Country Boy Black Gold Porter, Mexican Chocolate version. The brewery on Chair Avenue is celebrating its third anniversary this weekend with three limited edition releases, an Orange Rum Truffle on Friday; Mexican Chocolate on Saturday; and Espresso on Sunday. Two-bottle limit, beginning at noon each day for one day only.