Happy Sweetest Day

Sweetest Day dates back to 1922 and actually has quite an interesting history. The holiday first started when Birch Kingston wanted to bring cheer to local orphans, elderly and service people in Cleveland, OH. He acknowledged that many of these people may feel forgotten during other holidays, and because he worked for a local candy company, he started giving out special sweets to the community.
Following his initial efforts, local candy makers in Cleveland began to continue the tradition of giving and called it “The sweetest day of the year.” They distributed over 10,000 boxes of candy to over 26 Cleveland area charities in their first year alone. As time went on, Sweetest Day became more romance-focused, and today, many view the holiday as a second Valentine’s Day.
Wouldn’t it be great to bring Sweetest Day back to its roots this year? Check out a few yummy recipes below that would make a sweet gift for anyone deserving a little pick-me-up. Bake some cookies for a local charity, or bring a batch to a loving neighbor down the street.

Chocolate Truffles –
• 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate pieces
• 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
• 2 tablespoons water
• 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
• 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 cup finely crushed chocolate cookie crumbs
• 1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar
• 1/2 cup finely chopped blanched almonds or macadamia nuts
• chocolate jimmies, finely chopped almonds or macadamia, or more cookie crumbs for coating
In top of double boiler over hot water, combine chocolate chips, coffee granules, water, corn syrup, and vanilla. Stirring frequently, heat until chocolate is melted. Beat with electric hand-held mixer or whisk until smooth; remove from heat. Stir in the cookie crumbs, powdered sugar, and nuts. Mix until well blended; let stand for about 10 minutes, until cool enough to handle. Shape mixture into small balls; roll in chocolate jimmies, finely chopped nuts, or cookie crumbs. Place truffles on waxed paper; cover loosely and chill overnight. Store in a tightly covered container.
Makes about 3 to 4 dozen chocolate truffles.

Divinity Fudge –
• 1 cup brown sugar
• 2 egg whites
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 cup chopped walnuts
• 1 cup maple syrup
• 1 tablespoon vinegar
• 1 cup chopped pecans
• 1 teaspoon corn syrup
• 1 teaspoon rose extract
• 1 teaspoon almond extract
• 1 cup maple sugar
• 1/2 cup water
• 1 cup water
Add the brown sugar, corn syrup, maple sugar, vinegar, and cup of water into a saucepan. Heat, while stirring continuously, until the mixture reaches 290°. Remove from heat and add the rose extract. Add the sugar and 1/2 cup of water to a different saucepan. Heat until it reaches 240°. Add the egg whites, almond extract, and the contents of the other saucepan. Stir until the mixture becomes creamy. Add the nuts. Pour mixture into greased pans. Let cool and then cut into squares.

Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies –
• 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 1 egg, unbeaten
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 squares semisweet chocolate, melted
• 1 cup all-purpose flour, stir before measuring
• 1/2 cup finely chopped hazelnuts
Preheat oven to 325°.
Cream butter until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in salt and sugar. Add egg; beat well. Blend in vanilla and chocolate. Mix in flour then chopped hazelnuts, mixing until well-blended. Drop level tablespoonfuls of dough, 2 inches apart, onto greased cookie sheets. Stamp lightly with a flat bottom glass covered with a damp cloth. If desired sprinkle more finely chopped hazelnuts over the top of each cookie. Bake for about 15 minutes, until done.
Makes about 2 to 3 dozen chocolate hazelnut cookies.