Combining sweet and spicy is a fantastic flavor profile. The sweet calms the heat, and the strong flavors enhance each other with each bite. If you’re looking for a last minute Valentine’s Gift, skip the drugstore and make something sweet and spicy for your sweetheart.
I found this heart shape mini pie press for $6 at Target, and, since Walter’s favorite dessert is pie, I thought it would be a perfect Valentine treat. I chose strawberries because of their color and shape, but raspberries or cherries are great substitutes. Since this is a quick gift idea, I used store bough pie crust, but you can always make your own instead. And, if you’re single, overfill these bad boys and you’ll have a bleeding heart..
Strawberry Bleeding Heart Pies
4 c. strawberries
3/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. water
3 tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg, beaten
1 refrigerated pie crust
For the filling: Bring all ingredients to a boil in a small sauce pan, stirring constantly and slightly crush the berries with a spoon. After 2 minutes, remove from heat, pour into bowl and cool.
Assembly: Roll out pie dough and cut two pieces using the bottom of the press as a pattern. Using your fingers, press dough into the mold and top with 2 tablespoons of filling (within 1/2 in. of edges). Brush dough edges with egg wash and lay second piece of dough on top. Close press to crimp edges and seal pie. Trim excess dough if necessary. Brush top of pie with egg wash and pierce with a fork. Repeat above steps for each pie. Bake 18-20 minutes at 400° or until golden.
Walter may like pies, but his true culinary love is spice. Hot wings, habaneros and Sriracha and Tabasco top his list for favorite foods an his drink of choice is a bloody mary (like his father, I’m told). Given his affinity for heat, I decided to make 3 different hot sauces to spice up our Valentine’s Day.
Again, given that this is a last minute gift idea, the easiest sauce to make is infused vinegar (middle jar, below). If your sweetheart prefers vodka to vinegar, you can use the same steps to make a spicy spirit, perfect for bloody mary’s! The ratio of vinegar or vodka to the peppers is dependent entirely on taste, so use your judgement on how hot your partner will want to get.
Chile Infused Vinegar (or Vodka)
Dried or fresh chiles
Vinegar (White, Rice Wine, Red Wine, etc.)
Place chiles into the jar. Fill jar with vinegar until chiles are submerged. Seal, and allow the flavors to blend for at least one week (the longer it sits, the spicier it will become). Feel free to add some spicy/cheesy notes to the jars like I did below, and voila! Your Valentine’s Day gift is complete. Use the vinegar on salads, pasta, as a dipping sauce for bread, or anytime you want to sweat.