Chocolate and strawberries may be synonymous with Valentine’s Day, and perfect fare for a date, but what to do if that “date” also includes your kids? We’ve taken this romantic culinary duo, put a kid-friendly spin on it, and prepared a Valentine's Day lunch menu that has something for everyone in your family. And since much of this menu is easy enough to be prepared by your kids, maybe you’ll find yourself with some alone time with your Valentine after all.

The Menu:

  • Shortbread Hearts Dipped in Chocolate
  • Nutella Tea Sandwiches
  • Strawberry Milk
  • Fruit Kabobs with a Strawberry Yogurt Dipping Sauce
  • Shortbread Hearts Dipped in Chocolate

Shortbread Hearts Dipped in Chocolate

Two tips for making these cookies: the butter has to be soft to cream well with the other ingredients and you want to chill the dough twice (once after mixing, and once after cutting out the shapes).

  • 1 3/4 cups butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 extra large egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 cups flour, plus extra flour for dusting your work surface.
  • 8 to 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla extract just until creamy in texture.
  3. Beat in the egg until well combined. Add the flour and mix on low speed, until the dough is well mixed but be sure not to over mix it.
  4. Shape the dough into 2-3 disks, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for at least one hour.
  5. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and use a rolling pin to roll out dough. Use a 3 or 4-inch heart shaped cookie cuter to make your shapes.
  6. Place on baking sheet and return the refrigerator to chill for 20 minutes.
  7. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the cookies. Check the cookies half way through the baking time, and rotate your pans (from top to bottom and from back to front). Let cool on a wire rack.
  8. While the cookies are baking, set up a bain marie on the stovetop (take a medium saucepan, add about two inches of water, and snuggly place a large glass bowl over it. The water should not touch the bottom of the bowl, and should reach a gentle simmer. If you find it is too hot to touch the rim of the bowl, lower the heat.) Add the chopped chocolate and allow to melt, stirring occasionally. Once melted, remove from heat.
  9. Take a cooled cookie and dip one half of the heart into the chocolate. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper until the chocolate has cooled. Note: since this is not tempered chocolate these cookies should be eaten the same day they are dipped in chocolate.

Nutella Tea Sandwiches

Nutella is a European chocolate and hazelnut spread that can now be readily found at many American supermarkets. To make tea sandwiches, just spread onto white or wheat bread, either alone or with sliced strawberries or sliced bananas. Cut the crusts off and slice the sandwich into two triangles. If you can’t find Nutella, here is a version you can make at home:

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

  • 1 cup hazelnuts
  • 8 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the hazelnuts on a baking sheet, and toast in the oven, shaking the pan occasionally, until the shells have browned, about 15 minutes. Place the hazelnuts on a clean white kitchen towel. Fold the towel over, and rub the shells off of the hazelnuts. Place the toasted hazelnuts in a food processor, and chop until the hazelnuts release their oil, about three to five minutes. (The hazelnut mixture will start to ball together a bit and look very shiny.)
  2. Place the chopped chocolate in a large glass mixing bowl. Heat the cream to a near boil, and then pour over the chocolate. Allow to stand for several minutes, and then stir until the chocolate has completely melted.
  3. Pour the chocolate into the food processor and pulse until combined with the hazelnut. Refrigerate until the spread has thickened. You can keep the spread in the refrigerator for several days.

Strawberry Milk

So easy to make, yet it tastes almost as rich and creamy as a milkshake!

  • 1 cup strawberries, (thawed organic frozen berries work well)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1-2 tablespoons sugar.
  • Place strawberries, milk and one tablespoon sugar in a blender and puree until smooth. Taste and add more sugar if desired. Makes two cups.

Fruit Kabobs with a Strawberry Yogurt Dipping Sauce

You can skewer all the fruit to make kabobs for this dish, or place the fruit and skewers out and pretend this is a “faux fondue.”

  • 1 cup whole milk plain or vanilla yogurt
  • ½ cup frozen strawberries, thawed (do not discard juice)
  • Fruit kabobs make by piercing chunks of banana, strawberry, grapes and pineapple with wooden skewers.

In a blender or food processor, puree the strawberries into a pulp. Place the yogurt in a large bowl. Using a metal strainer and a rubber spatula over this bowl, push the pureed strawberries through the mesh. Stir together the strawberry liquid and yogurt and use as a dipping sauce with the fruit kabobs.

Depending on the age of your children, many steps of these recipes can be done without your direct supervision, making it possible for you to have a little alone time with your Valentine while allowing your children the satisfaction of setting the party up themselves. Here’s a breakdown of what your kids could finish by themselves:

  • For the shortbread cookies, have the bowl of melted chocolate and the parchment lined baking sheet ready on a table, so that the kids can dip the cookies themselves.
  • Older kids can finish off the yogurt sauce (straining the strawberries into the yogurt) and making the kabobs.
  • For the sandwiches, you can prepare them together, but leave the sandwiches with the crusts on. Give the children the heart shaped cookie cuter, which they can use to make heart shaped finger sandwiches.
  • The kids can also decorate the table alone and “surprise” you with the tea party.

You may find that Valentine’s is a great day to be with the kids after all.