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I never liked Valentine's Day until a few years ago when I figured out how to personalize and creatively package baked goodies that I purchased rather than baked. Having never learned how to cook, baking was not an option for me. I don't even own baking tools and don't want to think about clearing all the art supplies out of my currently unused oven.
That's when I discovered how easy it was to exercise my creative muscle by personalizing my store-bought treats.
My first real find was fortune cookies. Turns out you can buy them by the dozen very inexpensively and it is simple to customize them by simply removing the fortunes with a pair of tweezers. I wrote new, personalized fortunes on strips of red paper and slid them back into the cookies.
Can you call them homemade if you melt baking chocolate in the microwave and dip each cookie by hand? I packaged my customized cookies in a Chinese take-out box and felt like I had my cake (or cookie) and had eaten it, too.
My second discovery was even easier. I bought a heart-shaped chocolate cake and embellished it with food picks made by sandwiching toothpicks between matching pairs of heart stickers and XXOO die cuts.
But the icing on the cake was decorating the cake plate. I applied screaming red lipstick to my finger and used it to create fingerprint hearts on the perimeter of the plate. I repeated this process with the lipstick on my lips, before kissing all around the border of the plate, and that worked, too.
Considering no two people have the same finger print, you can't get much more personal than a fingerprinted heart border, and when it's time to clean up, the lipstick washes off with soap and water.
So if you have special friendships that you want to celebrate this Valentine's Day, try embellishing a store-bought cake and presenting it on a fingerprinted plate. And if your friends don't like cake, let them eat cookies.