Insanely Cheap, Incredibly Sweet: 4 Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

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Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/theamarand/

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/theamarand/

For some, Valentine’s Day is one word: stressful. Though the day is supposed to be about love, it easily escalates with the pressure to perform, buy the write gifts, cook the right dinner, and say the right things — but it doesn’t have to be that way. Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to break your budget, and you don’t necessarily have to buy the most expensive things. Many times, loved ones just want to know that you care, and that’s where these inexpensive, yet charming gifts come in. They show your thoughtful side while not robbing the bank.

There are a number of routes you can go when buying Valentine’s Day gifts while trying to stay out of the dog house, and today we’re highlighting a couple different ways you can go this February 14. You can bake, you can craft, you can buy, or you can plan. Each of our ideas keep your tight budget in mind, and they are also sure to earn you the seal of approval once the clock strikes 12 and Valentine’s Day is finally over.

For the Bakers: Peanut Butter Whole Wheat Blondie Hearts

One of the easiest way to win over someone’s heart is winning over their stomach. Yes, you heard that right. Making a baked good for someone is an inexpensive, yet thoughtful way to show someone you care, as you can easily say that your dessert was baked with love and really mean it. Of course, there’s also pressure to impress in the kitchen, but whether you take on a complex dessert or go with a simple no-bake cake, your valentine is likely to be pleased — especially if your present involves chocolate. Here’s a recipe for Peanut Butter Whole Wheat Blondie Hearts via Sally’s Baking Addiction that will melt just about anyone’s heart, especially your loved one’s.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup (185g) creamy peanut butter*
1/3 cup (80 milliliters) melted coconut oil
1/2 cup (90 grams) loosely-packed light brown sugar (or dark brown sugar)
1/4 cup (60 milliliters) milk*
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup (126 grams) whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup (42 grams) peanuts
1/3 cup (60 grams) dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips

Optional chocolate drizzle:

1/4 cup (45 grams) dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon creamy peanut butter

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line an 8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper, making sure there is enough overhang on the sides to easily remove the blondies. Set aside. In a large bowl, mix together peanut butter, oil, and brown sugar until smooth. Whisk in the milk and vanilla. Add the flour, salt, and baking powder. Mix until combined. Use your arm muscles — the batter will be very thick. Transfer batter to baking pan and press it into place using the back of a spatula. Sprinkle the top with peanuts and dark chocolate chips, pressing them gently into the batter.

Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, until the edges are just barely browning. The top will look very soft. Remove from oven and cool completely before slicing into squares or hearts. The first batch I made two years ago, I cut into the blondies too early and they all crumbled. Be sure to cool for at least 3 hours or overnight (preferred) before cutting.

For the optional drizzle: Melt chocolate chips and peanut butter together. Drizzle over cut blondies. Blondies stay fresh in an airtight container for up to one week at room temperature.

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