I spent Valentine’s Day sick in bed with a stomach bug. And I didn’t even have the benefit of overdoing it on chocolate first. That’s okay. The holiday, as I understand it, was first established to honor early Christian martyrs. So you could say I martyred myself in the name of chocolate lovers everywhere — so that they may benefit from the sweets I was forced to give up.
All is well though. I have recovered, and those 24 hours in bed allowed me some time to reflect on this day of love. When we were young, my sisters and I received beautiful flower corsages from my father each year on Valentine’s Day. I remember having to pin that corsage to my dress and walking around school all day praying that I would not get punctured. I was more than a little relieved when in the years to follow Dad made the switch to the wrist corsage.
As teenagers and even into adulthood, we continued to receive Valentine’s Day gifts from our father. It was clear he put considerable thought into selecting what he hoped would truly represent his love for his girls. I remember in particular heart-shaped jewelry boxes; stuffed animals; perfumed talcum powder; girly knickknacks for our rooms; and of course the requisite giant red foil heart with all manner of chocolates inside. Dad’s was a tough act to follow, and like many other aspects of my life, Valentine’s Day was never quite the same after he passed away.
When I married and had children, I decided it was time to start a Valentine’s Day tradition of our own. Ours was heart-shaped pancakes for breakfast. That one had staying power. In fact, this year was the first that I did not whip out those old cookie cutters. The girls are away at college, and my 16-year-old son barely makes it out the door in time for school each morning.
Still, I have a hard time letting go. All of those old gifts from Dad (minus the flower corsages) are stashed away in a crate I refer to–for obvious reasons–as my “treasure box.” So I’d like to think of the pancake tradition as having been retired for the time being. Perhaps we will see it again in the years to come, should we be lucky enough to be blessed with a new generation of sweethearts.
Strawberry-Soaked Oreo Truffles:
Illness be damned, I could not let the holiday pass without creating something sweet in its honor. These faux truffles were the perfect choice. Easy (three ingredients, if you count the glaze), quick, and fun to make. My friend and former colleague, Cami, first introduced me to these too-good-to-be-true nuggets of deliciousness at a holiday potluck lunch several years ago. I thank her for that (I think). I have seen other versions call for white chocolate glaze; I chose strawberry as a nod to the requisite Valentine’s treat: chocolate covered strawberries. Enjoy!
1 package Oreo sandwich cookies
1 8 oz. package regular cream cheese (softened)
1-1/2 c. strawberry jam or preserves
1 c. water
Place entire package of cookies in a large zip-loc bag. With a meat tenderizer or a rolling-pin, smash the cookies in the bag until they are finely crushed. In a large bowl, mix the cookie crumbs with the softened cream cheese until well blended (you can do this in a food processor, but I do it by hand). Roll truffles into 1-inch balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Place in refrigerator for about 30 minutes to allow truffles to set up.
In the meantime, prepare the glaze by combining strawberry jam with water in a small saucepan. Heat on medium until mixture reaches a low boil. Continue to cook for approximately 10-15 minutes until glaze turns syrupy. Allow to cool. Using a pastry brush or spoon, drizzle glaze over truffles.