Many revelers want to make something special for their loved ones come February 14, but not everyone has the time. Between preparing memorable meals, wrapping special presents, and writing cards, the day can feel more like a chore than a romantic holiday, and that’s why it’s OK to take some shortcuts. Valentine’s Day is all about love, chocolate, and sweet treats, but the latter doesn’t have to be complicated. Your valentine will still love you if you make his or her favorite cake from scratch or from a box, and better yet, he or she doesn’t even have to know. Here are 6 dessert recipes from around the web that enlist a shortcut to help you save time on baking. Some of these recipes call for cake mixes, some call for frosting tubs, and some call for pre-made cookies, but they all still yield impressive products, and ones that will have never have your loved one suspecting you had some help in the kitchen.
1. Red Velvet Cheesecake Cookies
First up are Red Velvet Cheesecake Cookies from Two Peas and Their Pod. These cookies are pretty to look at, tasty to eat, and surprisingly easy to make. You don’t even have to have red food dye on hand because the recipe calls for one box of red velvet cake mix, and it’s all smooth sailing from there. These cakey cookies will have a rich cheesecake base and a white chocolate drizzle, giving them a look and taste that screams sophistication.
- 1 box red velvet cake mix
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup canola oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 oounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
White Chocolate Drizzle
- 1½ cups white chocolate chips, melted
Directions: To make cookies, in a large bowl combine cake mix and flour. Whisk until clumps disappear. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together cake mix, flour, eggs, oil, and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap. The dough will be oily. Refrigerate for at least two hours.
To make the cheesecake filling, using a mixer, combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth. Using a teaspoon, scoop out cheesecake filling and place on a plate. Continue scooping out cheesecake filling into teaspoon balls until you have 10. Place plate in the freezer and freeze for at least two hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. To assemble the cookies, take about ¼ cup of red velvet cookie dough and flatten in your hands. Place a teaspoon of cheesecake filling in the center and wrap the cookie dough around the filling. Gently roll into a ball and place on prepared baking sheet. Scoop onto lightly greased or parchment lined baking sheets. Only bake 3 cookies at a time. The cookies are large and will spread. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until the cookies begin to crackle. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Remove from baking sheet to a wire cooling rack and cool completely.
Melt the white chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl or over a double-boiler. Drizzle the white chocolate over the cooled cookies. Let the cookies set until the chocolate hardens.
2. Strawberry Brownies
The next dessert on our list also has a seasonally appropriate look, and this recipe is for Strawberry Brownies from Mix and Match Mama. Don’t knock the strawberry cake flavor before you try it, because it’s surprsingly delicious, and you can’t go wrong with an ingredients list that only calls for three necessities. Grab your cake mix, eggs, and vegetable oil, and preheat the oven. These brownies will be ready in no time, and will keep your stress levels low this Valentine’s Day.
- 1 box strawberry cake mix
- 2 eggs
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil
Directions: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9-by-13 baking dish. Set aside. Combine all three ingredients in a mixing bowl with a spoon. Spread batter across the bottom of your prepared pan and bake about 14 minutes.
While the brownies are baking, prepare your glaze. Combine one cup of powdered sugar with a splash of milk. Add more milk if the glaze is too thick and more sugar if it’s too thin. Pour glaze down over the tops of your warm brownies.
3. Red Velvet Cake Batter Brownies with Cream Cheese Frosting
Sticking with the brownie theme and taking it back to red velvet, we come to these Red Velvet Cake Batter Brownies from Girl Meets Life. Red velvet cake tastes even better in brownie form, and that’s especially the case when it’s topped with a thick cream cheese frosting. Cake mix never yielded a more delectable product, or tastier stress-free dessert. Instead of slaving in a hot kitchen this Valentine’s Day, try Gracie’s shortcut and spend more time enjoying your sweets with your sweetheart.
- 1 box red velvet cake mix
- ¼ cup canola oil
- 1 egg, beaten
- ¼ cup milk
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- ¼ cup butter, softened
- 1 plus ¾ cup powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Put cake mix in a large bowl and mix in the oil and egg. Then add the milk slowly just until the batter is combined. Place batter in a greased 8-by-8 pan or 8-inch cake pan and bake for 22-25 minutes.
While the brownies are is in the oven, get started on the frosting. Beat the cream cheese and butter until fully combined. Add vanilla and sugar, and continue beating until creamy. Let brownies cool for at least 30 minutes.
4. Strawberry 2-Ingredient Fudge
Up in the No. 4 spot: 2-Ingredient Fudge from Cookies and Cups. It doesn’t get much easier than this. Just grab a can of strawberry frosting, a bag of white chocolate chips, and get ready to have some strawberry fudge on your hands in 30 minutes. Fudge doesn’t have to be a complicated dessert — just follow this simple shortcut and you’re good to go.
- 1 can strawberry frosting
- 1 12-ounce bag of white chocolate chips
Directions: Prepare a 9-by-9 pan by spray lightly with cooking spray. Over a double boiler, or in the microwave, melt your white chocolate chips. When chips are melted, remove from heat and stir in your strawberry frosting, evenly. Spread in your prepared pan and place in fridge to set for 30 minutes. Cut into squares to serve.
5. Valentine’s Oreo Truffles
This next recipe highlighted on She Knows, developed by Melissa Dunlap, enlists not two, but three ingredients in a recipe that yields perfectly rich oreo truffles that can be decorated however you wish. Oreos are good on their own, but when crushed in a food processor and combined with cream cheese, they really shine. Dipping them in almond bark also doesn’t hurt. Check out this recipe for Valentine’s Oreo Truffles and see for yourself how sweet these simple truffles really can be.
- 1 package oreo cookies
- 1 (8-ounce) package of cream cheese, softened
- 1 package almond bark
Directions: Crush Oreos in a Ziploc bag and set aside. Beat cream cheese in food processor until slightly fluffy. Add half of crushed Oreos and mix into cream cheese. Add remaining Oreos and blend into a thick, smooth paste. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
Roll into 1-inch balls and refrigerate for 15 minutes more. Melt almond bark, cut into small pieces and melt over boiling water in a glass Pyrex bowl. Dip truffles into almond bark and place on waxed paper-lined cookie sheet to dry. Decorate with pink-tinted white almond bark.
6. Cream Cheese Brownies
Lastly, Cream Cheese Brownies from Food.com. Make yourself feel better about using a brownie mix by amping up your dessert with a cream cheese swirl. This recipe highlighted on Food.com shows you how. Brownie mixes never fail, and extra cream cheese never hurts, so stress less this V-Day and put these brownies on the menu, understanding that whatever happens, at least your dessert won’t disappoint.
- 1 package fudge brownie mix
- ¼ cup water
- ⅓ cup oil
- 2 eggs
- 1 package cream cheese
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 1 egg
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare the brownie mix according to package directions. Pour into a greased 13×9-inch baking pan. Beat cream cheese with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add sugar and mix. Add vanilla and egg; mix until well-blended. Place cheese mixture in dolups over the whole pan, leaving some brownie showing in between. Cut or swirl through batter several times with a knife or fork for a marbled effect. It can be tricky to get a good marble effect so be careful not to over work it. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Cool; cut into squares.