Aw, a heart-shaped thing. Get the recipe for coeur a la creme » [Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Oh, Valentine's Day. As a chocolatier, I can certainly wear the cynical hat. I have nothing against the holiday, per se. It's just all the gifts people get each other tend to be saccharine, tacky, and/or cliché—and tend to cost an unnecessary amount of money.

Accordingly, here's a list of five non-lame things you can whip up at home. They're quick, easy, and only as cutesy as you want to make them.

1. Coeur à la crème: This one from Saveur is a little more on the involved side of the list, but all you really need is cheesecloth, a sieve and a hand mixer. It's not cloyingly sweet, has nothing to do with chocolate (for those who aren't fans—I know you're out there!), and it's beautiful. Get the recipe on Saveur »


All for me. [Flickr: CH®iS]

2. Buckeyes: Super simple, made with stuff you probably already have lying around, requires no special equipment, and will take you, maybe, an hour. If you're into the heart thing, you can just nab a heart-shaped container and put them in there. Trust me, they'll go over way better than Russell Stover. Get the recipe »


[Flickr: vmiramontes]

3. Red Velvet cake. If you're into chocolate but want a bit more "wow" factor, Smitten Kitchen has a fantastic recipe (not all red velvet cakes are created equal). Bake it as cupcakes instead (15-20 minutes at 350°F) to make things even easier. Plus, who doesn't love sprinkles? Get the recipe »


Mmm...wobbly. [Photograph: Robyn Lee]

4. Panna cotta. This one from pastry chef and blogger David Lebovitz is easy to make (his recipes are always a winning proposition) and so very delicious. I highly recommend hunting down a real-life vanilla bean for this. The flavor is really unmatchable, and the tiny little vanilla seeds add texture that you can't get from anything else. If vanilla is a little too, well, vanilla for you, try a flavored panna cotta recipe (there are a lot out there). Get the recipe »


Eat your heart out, Nabisco! [Photograph: Robyn Lee]

5. Homemade Oreos. Seriously. You've never had a sandwich cookie like this. You can get your hands on some black cocoa to get it extra Oreo-y, but any Dutch process cocoa is fine. Make the dough and roll it out now; freeze it until you need it, then just cut and bake. You can flavor the filling with anything you want (I like a little mint oil). Get the recipe »


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