Whether you buy or make candy for yourself or your valentine, you won’t be alone. Americans are expected to purchase 58 million pounds of chocolate this week, according to candystore.com, and 47 percent of those buyers will include a box for themselves in their purchase.
The pandemic has hit hard, and overall Valentine’s Day spending is expected to be down this year, especially among those who prefer to celebrate by going out to dinner. Fifty percent seating is allowed in Pennsylvania restaurants and 35 percent in New Jersey, while many people are avoiding restaurants altogether because of the coronavirus. That makes contact-free pickup or delivery even more important to help these businesses survive.
But with or without limited resources, candy is an easy and welcome solution of what to do for Valentine’s Day. With a range of prices, candy has always been considered to be recession proof, and candystore.com predicts it will be pandemic-proof as well. The website is predicting that sales will be up this year by at least 2% as customers continue to buy chocolate for their favorite valentines.
According to the website Pennsylvania and New Jersey share a love of Valentine’s Day-themed M&Ms, which rank as the top seller (M&M even has bags of holiday candy dubbed “cupid’s mix”). Heart-shaped boxes of chocolates rank second, with the recently resurgent Conversation Hearts ranking third.
If you prefer to make your own candy for gifts, fudge is an easy and popular choice. But you also might consider this five-ingredient truffle recipe from womansday.com:
For dark chocolate:
¾ cup heavy cream
¼ teaspoon instant espresso powder
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
For white chocolate:
¼ cup heavy heavy cream
8 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
1½ teaspoons Irish cream liqueur (such as Bailey’s or Kerrygold) or pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
chopped pistachios, chopped peanuts, chopped pecans, confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, unsweetened coconut flakes or nonpareils
1. For the dark chocolate truffles, in a medium saucepan heat the cream until barely simmering. Remove from heat and stir in the espresso. Add the bittersweet and semisweet chocolates and stir until melted and smooth. Stir in the vanilla, butter and salt. Transfer the mixture to a shallow bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours and up to 1 week.
2. Repeat for the white chocolate truffles, using the cream, white chocolate, Irish liqueur or vanilla and salt.
3. Using a small cookie scoop, melon baller or teaspoon, scoop enough chocolate to make ¾-inch balls. Roll between palms until surface is smooth, then chill 10 minutes. Roll the balls in the toppings, shaking off excess.
4. Store the truffles in an airtight container, placing wax paper between each layer; refrigerate up to 3 days. Serve at room temperature.
The only thing that goes better than winter and chocolate is Valentine’s Day and chocolate.