Valentine's Day is the perfect time to handmake something sweet for your sweetie. But if one of you has food allergies, that can be a daunting prospect. That's why I've compiled a list of delicious, totally-doable recipes to share. I've divided them up by difficulty, so no matter your skill level or lack of free time, you can craft something wonderful this Valentine's Day.
Significantly Easier Than Pie
1. Chocolate Dipped Strawberries
Wheat-free*, egg-free, nut-free, dairy-free, soy-free, coconut-free, vegan * *
Love your sweetie but suck at cooking? These are a classic and they're so easy to make. Pair with champagne for extra sparkle! If, as my young taste-tester, Chloe, observed, you might be allergic to strawberries, Glutino gluten-free pretzels are a great substitute (they do, however, contain soy lecithin).
*I've classified recipes as wheat-free since none of them should contain gluten, but the ingredients I used may not be officially certified gluten-free. Please check all your ingredients if you have celiac disease.
* * Anything I've marked vegan is free of animal ingredients, but the particular brands I've used may not be officially vegan-certified.
- Strawberries, washed and well dried
- Good Life allergen-free chocolate chips (½ cup per box of berries, more or less)
- Sprinkles, crushed hard candy, or sweetened coconut flakes (optional)
Special Equipment and Supplies
- Double boiler or equivalent
- Parchment paper or wax paper
Melt the chocolate, stirring frequently. If you are Very Fancy, you have a double boiler for this. If you're like many of us, you have a random assortment of cooking utensils you inherited from family members and roommates over the years. Fear not! You can melt the chocolate chips by simmering a little water in a regular saucepan, then placing a heatproof bowl or a smaller pan inside, and melting the chocolate in that. I nested two saucepans and it worked perfectly. The point is just to give the chocolate some distance from the heat source. If you're desperate, you can put it directly on very low heat and stir constantly, or even microwave the chocolate 8 seconds at a time, stirring in the breaks. But be careful; burnt chocolate smells awful, and constant microwave beeping might tarnish the romantic ambiance.
While that's going on, put a piece of parchment paper or wax paper on a plate, and on another plate, pour out some sprinkles. Once the chocolate's melty, hold the strawberries by the stems or leaves and dip them in, then dip them ever so gently in your topping, and place them on the paper. Let them sit in the fridge for 30 minutes. You can keep them refrigerated overnight, but don't push it much past that.
2. Creamy Dairy-free Chocolates. Wheat-free, egg-free, nut-free, dairy-free, soy-free, coconut-free, vegan
Simple to make, easy to dress up. These taste creamy and melt on your tongue, but contain no dairy or coconut. You'll need a double boiler or something like it (see above recipe), and a silicon candy mould. You can find these moulds in many different designs at a craft-supply store; we used a small rose shape. Try getting several designs and picking a different mix-in for each; nestle them on some pretty fabric or tissue paper in a gift box, and ta-da! You've made a chocolate sampler.
- 1/2 cup Good Life allergen-free chocolate chips - 2 tablespoons sustainably-produced palm shortening - 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 pinches salt - 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
- sprinkles, crushed candy, sweetened coconut flakes, or dried fruit (optional)
Special Equipment and Supplies
- Double boiler or equivalent (see Recipe #1)
- Silicon candy mold
Melt the chocolate in your double boiler (or equivalent) while stirring frequently. Stir in the shortening, sugar, salt, and vanilla. If you like, put a little of your add-in into each depression of the mold. Fill the molds with the chocolate mixture and chill in the freezer for 30 minutes. They're easy to get out of the molds—just press your thumb to the back and pop them right out! Wrap each piece in foil and keep it in your refrigerator until you're ready to treat your sweetheart. Makes about 14 candies.
3. Berry popsicles.
Wheat-free, egg-free, nut-free, dairy-free, soy-free, coconut-free, vegan
Switch it up a little! No baking, no cooking, just lush berries and icy sweetness. Add some romance with heart-shaped strawberry slices, old-fashioned wooden popsicle sticks, and ribbons!
- About 1 ½ cups of lemonade (depends on the size of your popsicle molds)
- About 4 strawberries
- About 16 raspberries
- About 16 blueberries
Special Equipment and Supplies
Popsicle molds - Wooden popsicle sticks - Fabric ribbon
Wash and dry all your berries and cut the tops off the strawberries. Using a small, sharp knife, slice the strawberries into 3 or 4 slices from top to bottom, and then cut each slice into a true heart shape. Slide them upside-down into the molds and press onto the sides. If they're a little wet, they'll stick. Drop a few berries in each mold and gently nestle the wooden popsicle stick in the middle. Fill almost to the top with lemonade and freeze overnight. Before you serve them, tie ribbons onto the handles. They'll look gorgeous.
4. Raspberry Hot Cocoa with Coconut Whipped Cream. Wheat-free, egg-free, nut-free, dairy-free, soy-free, vegan
If popsicles aren't really appropriate for February where you live, try this belly-warming boozy hot cocoa. It's rich and creamy and totally free of dairy. The kiss of raspberry makes it delightfully different. The whipped cream recipe has been adapted from Karen Gaudette Brewer's recipe at AllRecipes
Hot Cocoa Ingredients
- 2 1/2 cups plain or vanilla coconut milk substitute (Silk makes a good one, for example) - 4 tablespoons chocolate syrup (generic Kroger brand tastes better than Hershey's!) - 1/8 teaspoon salt - 4 1/2 tablespoons raspberry liqueur (2 1/4 oz)
Coconut Whipped Cream Ingredients - 1/2 can of coconut cream or full-fat coconut milk - 1/2 teaspoon imitation almond extract - 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, to taste
Hot Cocoa Directions In a saucepan, bring the milk substitute to a gentle simmer and whisk in the chocolate syrup, salt, and liqueur. You can also use a handheld latte frother, if you have one. I highly suggest you have one. They are SO COOL. Reduce the heat to low to keep the cocoa warm without cooking out all the alcohol. Note: If you skip the whipped cream, stir a tablespoon of coconut cream directly into your hot cocoa so it will still taste creamy.
Whipped Cream Directions
The day before you make this, place the unopened can of coconut cream or milk in the refrigerator. And hour beforehand, put your mixing bowl and beaters in there, too.
While your hot cocoa is warming on the stove, get out that frosty can of coconut cream without shaking or tipping it. The cream will have risen to the top. Scoop half of it into the chilled mixing bowl, and reserve the rest for some other use. I usually just drink the coconut water at the bottom! With an electric hand mixer on high, whip that cream into shape for 7 or 8 minutes. Coconut cream will not stand quite as tall as traditional whipped cream, but that's okay. Add the granulated sugar and imitation almond extract and mix one more minute. Once it's a towering pile of fluff, fill your mugs with hot cocoa and place JUST ONE spoonful of whipped cream on top. I love to pile on my whipped cream, but this variety is so rich that it's easy to overdo. If you have any left over, cover the bowl in cling wrap and place gently in the refrigerator. It will keep for a day or two.
5. Chocolate Snickerdoodle Trailmix. Wheat-free, egg-free, nut-free, dairy-free, coconut-free, vegan
If you're planning on watching a movie at home, or you're confident in your ability to smuggle food into the movie theatre, this is the recipe for you.
Note: This doesn't make a huge yield; I streamlined the recipe to fit the size and number of pans you likely have in your kitchen. Feel free to double it! You'll just have to use a large lidded pan and have two baking sheets or casserole dishes at the ready. Ingredients
- 2 tablespoons plain white popcorn kernels (about 3 ½ cups popped)
- ½ cup grapeseed oil, plus a couple tablespoons - Salt, to taste - ¼ cup Good Life chocolate chips - 2 tablespoons granulated sugar - 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup gluten-free mini pretzels (I recommend Glutino) - ¼ cup dried cherries
Special Equipment and Supplies
- Double boiler or equivalent
Put a lidded, medium-sized saucepan on medium heat and swirl a couple of tablespoons of oil around in it to coat the bottom. Place a single popcorn kernel in the pan and cover it. When you hear the kernel pop, sprinkle the 2 tablespoons of kernels evenly across the bottom of the pan to form a single layer, and re-cover. Give it a shake every few seconds until the popcorn stops popping. Remove from heat immediately.
Put the popcorn into a large bowl and toss with the grapeseed oil, then salt to taste. Add the pretzels. Add the sugar and cinnamon and toss until it's evenly coated. Mix in the dried cherries, then spread the trailmix out evenly over the bottom of a casserole pan or baking sheet.
Using a double boiler or equivalent (see Recipe #1), melt the chocolate. Using a spoon or fork, drizzle the melted chocolate over the trailmix. Place the mixture in the fridge for 30 minutes so the chocolate can harden. Eat up!
**6. Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies. ** Egg-free, nut-free, dairy-free, coconut-free, vegan
You can't go wrong with these. People without food allergies always tell me how much they love them, not knowing they're any different from the ones they usually eat. The cookies have a wonderfully nutty flavour, without the nuts. I attribute it to the whole-grain spelt flour. Spelt is a form of wheat that's been less tampered-with with over centuries of agriculture. It's probably healthier, but I don't really know. I'm just here for the cookies. I adapted the recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, 15th Edition.
- ½ cup Blue Bonnet Lactose-Free margarine, softened (that's a whole stick)
- ½ cup shortening (I used sustainably-produced palm)
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- pinch of cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons ground flax seed
- 6 tablespoons water
- 1 ½ teaspoons real vanilla extract
- 2 ¾ cups spelt flour
- 2/3 bag Good Life allergen-free chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375˚F. In a large mixing bowl, beat margarine and shortening with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the brown sugar, granulated sugar, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, a little at a time, and beat until well blended and a little fluffy. Use a rubber spatula to keep the dough down.
Put flax seed meal and water in a small, round-bottomed bowl, stir, and microwave about 55 seconds. Whisk the mix is gelatinous and sticks together as one mass. Use the rubber spatula to scrape it into the main mixing bowl.
Beat in the flax seed mixture and the vanilla, and add the flour a little at a time, beating in as much as possible on the mixer’s lowest setting. Stir the rest in with a fork. Add the chocolate chips and stir them in. Drop 1 1/2” lumps of dough onto a lightly greased cookie sheet two inches apart. I like to do this by scooping a heaping spoonful on one flatware tablespoon and scraping it onto the pan with a second spoon. Bake for 9 or 10 minutes until edges are light golden brown, then remove from oven and cool on the cookie sheet for 2 or 3 minutes. Move to a wire rack and let cool completely, then store in an airtight container.
7. Conversation Heart Sugar Cookies. Wheat-free, egg-free, nut-free, dairy-free, soy-free, coconut-free, vegan
Remember those cute li'l conversation hearts from your childhood? They tasted like chalk. Would you really feed those to someone you love? Try this twist on sugar cookies instead. I've adapted this from Martha Stewart's recipe. They are simply gorgeous, but not quick to make. There's a lot of passive prep time, so please begin a day or two before you need them. For the royal icing, I've adapted Alton Brown's recipe. I've chosen to use Ener-G's Egg Replacer, a potato-and-tapioca powder, in place of egg whites or meringue powder. Marian over at Sweetopia has a really handy list of other choices.
Sugar Cookie Ingredients
- Gluten-free sugar-cookie mix - Palm shortening; use the cookie mix's measurement for butter or oil - Vanilla extract; follow cookie mix recipe - 1/8 teaspoon lemon extract - Water - Ener-G Egg Substitute
Royal Icing Ingredients
- 4 cups powdered sugar - 1 teaspoon vanilla extract - 2 tablespoons Ener-G Egg Replacer powder - 3 tablespoons warm water
- gel-paste food colouring (I was only able to find gel icing in my local stores. It worked beautifully to colour the royal icing without making it runny, but did not work for stamping. I simply pressed the stamps into the cookies to create indentations.)
Special Equipment and Supplies
- Parchment paper - Pastry bag with 1/8 inch round tip, or equivalent (see icing directions) - Small rubber alphabet stamps
Sugar Cookie Directions
Read the directions for your gluten-free cookie mix. Substitute palm shortening for butter and Ener-G egg replacer for egg, following Ener-G's directions for its preparation. Instead of just mixing everything together at once, cream the shortening, egg replacer, and vanilla first, using an electric hand mixer on high for 30 seconds until the mixture's good and fluffy. Then add in the dry mix, a little at a time. When you're done, press it together with your fingers. If it sticks together and you can pick it up in one mass, great. If it's too dry and it crumbles, add rice or oat milk a teaspoon at a time until it's just moist enough.
Wrap the dough in plastic cling wrap. Leave it in the fridge for at least two hours. If you're like me, your next step will be to knock the hand mixer into an open drawer with your elbow. The mixer will land upside-down on its power button and will turn on, spraying you, your hair, and your kitchen with dough bits. Don't be like me.
Preheat your oven to 325˚F. While it warms up, set your chilled dough out on the counter for 8-10 minutes. Lay out sheets of parchment paper on your baking sheets, or lightly oil them. DO NOT substitute wax paper. It will catch on fire and your cookies will taste like ash and bitter tears.
Now, I know you are probably expecting to roll out the dough and use cookie cutters. Don't do that. You may as well try to roll out Elmer's Glue. Instead, flour your hands and begin shaping 2-4 inch hearts about a 1/3 inch thick, placing them 2 inches apart; the dough will fill up two baking sheets. You can shape them directly on the pan if that helps. I used the side of a butter knife to clean up the edges and make an extra deep dent in the tops, since cookies spread out as they bake. I had only one ugly cookie, which, according to the Baker's Code, I was obligated to eat on the spot. Bake the two sheets of cookies for half the cooking time in the cookie-mix directions, then move the one on the top oven shelf to the bottom, and vice versa. Rotate each sheet so the cookies formerly at the back of the oven are now at the front. Bake for the second half of the time, until the edges are golden brown. Let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack and let them cool completely. Now's a good time to start on that icing!
Royal Icing Directions
Whisk the egg replacer powder into the warm water until it's as frothy as you can get it. It's going to be thick and lumpy, and that's okay. Using a hand mixer on low speed, mix in the vanilla and then add the powdered sugar in a little at a time. Once it's mixed, turn the mixer speed to high and whip it, whip it good, for 7-9 minutes. Use a rubber spatula to scrape escaping icing back to the bottom of the bowl. Once you can dip the corner of your spatula into the icing and pull up a little peak that mostly retains its shape but droops at the top, you're ready to add colours.
At this point your icing will have developed a beautiful pearly sheen, and it's only going to get prettier. Divide it up into a few small bowls and use your gel-paste colours to colour each bowlful. Add a drop at a time and stir thoroughly. Once you're done with that, put each colour into a pastry bag with a 1/8 inch round tip. If you don't have one, then use zippered sandwich bags instead. If you roll down the open bag, it's easier to get the frosting in. Then gently press out the air, seal the bag, and cut the very tip off one of the bottom corners. Squeeze the frosting down there so you can easily control the flow with your hand, and begin frosting the (cooled) sugar cookies. Start with the outline, then fill in the centre. Now let your cookies dry completely, uncovered, overnight.
Once they're dry, squeeze some gel colour onto a folded paper towel, then dab a tiny amount onto small rubber alphabet stamps. Press onto your cookies. Since I was unable to find gel-paste colours, I just pressed the stamps into the cookies to make indentations, which looked great anyway. I said things like, “YOU & ME,” “QT,” “LOVE,” “BE MINE?,” and “BFF.”
8. Spicy Chocolate Sandwich Cookies. Egg-free, nut-free, dairy-free, coconut-free, vegan
Cheery little jailbird Martha Stewart wrote this recipe, too, and I've adapted it for your convenience. The cookies are bittersweet, in exquisite contrast to the sweet, fluffy whipped cream. Like many other scrumptious things (good barbecue, for example) they are quite messy to eat but totally worth it.
Chocolate Cookie Ingredients
- 1 ½ teaspoons Ener-G egg replacer - 2 tablespoons warm water
- 1 cup spelt flour
- 1/2 cup oat flour
- 1 ½ sticks Blue Bonnet Lactose-Free margarine, softened - 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper (yes, really!) - 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon instant coffee powder
Chocolate Whipped Cream Ingredients
- 1 can coconut cream or full-fat coconut milk, chilled overnight
- 2 ½ tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 ½ tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Special Equipment and Supplies
- Pastry bag or zippered sandwich bag with a small corner cut off
Chocolate Cookie Directions
Combine the oat flour, spelt flour, cinnamon, pepper, and coffee powder in one bowl and set aside. In a mixing bowl, use an electric hand mixer to beat the margarine and sugar for about 3 minutes until fluffy. In a small bowl, whisk egg replacer and warm water together until frothy, and pour in with the margarine-sugar mixture. A little at a time, add in the flour mixture with the hand mixer on low.
Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate it at least an hour, preferably overnight. When you're ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350˚F and either grease a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper. Remember—you cannot substitute wax paper for parchment paper, unless you are hoping for a visit from some sexy firefighters for Valentine's Day. Your dough is going to be stickier than traditional dough, so you won't be able to use a cookie cutter. Instead, dust your hands with flour and mold hearts about 1/3 inch thick and 2 ½ inches across. Place them 1 ½ inches apart.
Bake them for about 10 minutes, until the centres are springy when touched gently. Let them cool on the baking sheet 1 minute, then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely before you frost them.
Chocolate Whipped Cream Directions
Once your can of coconut cream has been chilling for at least 17 hours, place your mixing bowl and the beaters to your electric hand mixer in the fridge, too, for about an hour. Once they're frosty, carefully remove the coconut cream and open it. The coconut water will have sunk to the bottom, and you can scoop the rich, buttery part off the top and into your mixing bowl. Add in the cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and sugar, and beat on with your mixer on high for 7 or 8 minutes. Coconut whipped cream doesn't get quite as stiff as dairy whipped cream, but it will work perfectly for your sandwich cookies nonetheless. Once soft, slightly-drooping peaks form, you're ready to pipe the filling into the cookies.
Spoon the whipped cream into a pastry bag or zipper bag with the corner cut off, and pipe frosting onto your bottom cookies. Gently press the top cookies into place. If you wait a couple of hours before serving the sandwich cookies, the moisture from the whipped cream will make the cookies delightfully soft and chewy.
9. Jam Thumbprints. Egg-free, nut-free, dairy-free, coconut-free, vegan
Jam thumbprints are like the laid-back cousin of fruit tarts. The flavour is similar, but the preparation is much, much easier, especially if you cannot use real eggs. And they're so cute! Cookie Ingredients
- 2/3 cup Blue Bonnet Lactose-Free margarine, softened
- 2/3 1 ½ cups spelt flour - ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons ground flax seeds - 3 ½ tablespoons water
- 1/3 to ½ cup raspberry jam
In a mixing bowl, beat the softened margarine for 30 seconds. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, and flax seeds. Beat in part of the dry mixture, then the water, then the rest of the dry mixture, and finally, the vanilla extract. If the dough seems too dry, add in water carefully, a teaspoon at a time. Cover your dough and refrigerate it for an hour so it's easier to handle. In the meantime, grease a cookie sheet or two and preheat your oven to 375˚F.
When it's chilled, it will still be quite sticky, so dust your hands with flour. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls. Place them an inch apart on the cookie sheet. Dip your thumb in flour, then press it into the centre of each to create a little well for the jam. Continue dipping your thumb in flour before making each thumbprint. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the bottoms are light brown, then cool on a wire rack. If the centers have risen during baking, use the back of a spoon to press them back down. The rounded backs of measuring spoons work particularly well for this. Once they've cooled, and right before you plan to eat them, fill the centres with raspberry jam. They look like little ruby gems; placing each cookie in a frilly cupcake cup and nestling several of them together in a tin is sure to wow your sweetheart!
10. Apricot Honeynut Cupcakes. Wheat-free, egg-free, nut-free, dairy-free, soy-free, coconut-free, vegan
You caught me. I lied. There aren't any nuts in these cupcakes. They just taste like almonds. Together with the bright, sweet-tart apricot centres and delicate honey frosting, they create a luscious mingling of flavours you won't soon forget. Mary Fran Wiley authored the recipe, which I've made simpler and dairy-free.
- Gluten-free, dairy-free vanilla cake mix
- milk substitute such as oat milk (substitute for the water called for by the mix)
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- oil (in the amount specified by the mix)
- ¼ teaspoon imitation almond extract - Use Ener-G egg substitute in place of the eggs
- About 1 cup apricot preserves
- 18 tablespoons palm shortening
- ½ cup plus 1 ½ tablepoons honey - 1 tablespoon honey to add in later
- 4 eggs' worth of Ener-G egg replacer (2 tablespoons powder, 8 tablespoons warm water) - vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- gel food coloring (optional) - sprinkles (optional)
Special Equipment and Supplies
- pastry bag with a large round tip and your favourite frosting tip (or zippered sandwich bag with a small corner cut off) - candy thermometer or meat thermometer
Preheat your oven to 350˚F. Line your cupcake pan with the papers of your choice. In a small bowl, combine your milk substitute with the apple cider vinegar, whisk, and let sit for a few minutes. The added acidity will help the cupcakes be extra fluffy. Prepare the cake mix according to the instructions, adding the imitation almond extract with the wet ingredients. Now, when I mixed up the batter, it was much too dry to pour. I added in more milk substitute, a tablespoon at a time, until the batter was pourable.
Fill your cupcake liners ½ to 2/3 full of batter. Do not overfill, or they will swell into lumpy cake monsters in your oven. Bake them according to the cupcake bake time on the mix packaging; when they're springy and you can insert a toothpick into the centres and pull it out clean, they're ready. Wait until they have cooled completely to frost them. If you leave them out for a long time unfrosted, cover each cupcake with plastic wrap to keep it moist.
Just before frosting the cupcakes, use a paring knife to cut 3/4-inch holes into the centre of each. Leave about ½ an inch of cupcake at the bottom so your filling doesn't leak all over the place. Use a small spoon or a pastry bag to fill them up with apricot preserves.
Whisk together the egg replacer powder and warm water. In a small saucepan, combine the egg replacer mixture with the 1 cup plus 1 ½ tablespoons of honey. Heat it over medium heat, whisking slowly but constantly, until your thermometer reads 140˚F. Remove it from heat and pour it into a large mixing bowl. Whip it with your electric hand mixer on high until it's cooled to room temperature. You can feel the temperature of the outside of the bowl if you don't want to get sticky.
Once it's room temperature, slow the mixer down and add in the shortening one tablespoon at a time. Then add in the salt, extra honey, and gel colour. When it's smooth, check to see if it's too runny to frost with. If so, leave it in the fridge for 20 minutes, then load it into your pastry bag and get to frosting! Add sprinkles if you feel like it. I would recommend storing any cupcakes you don't devour immediately in the refrigerator so the frosting doesn't melt. I actually preferred them cold. Enjoy! If you and your honey enjoyed these recipes, let me know! Please ask any questions you have, or share your ingenious improvements!
Tammy Bendetti writes and paints on Colorado's Western Slope, where she lives with her husband and two little girls. In her spare time she enjoys dancing badly and drinking dangerous amounts of coffee.