The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

On The Table

February 13, 2013

VIDEO: Bakers offer tips for sprucing up your Valentine's Day treats

PITTSBURG, Kan. — The real question for couples on Valentine's Day isn't where to go for a romantic dinner -- it's what to eat afterwards. Specialty cupcakes? Decadent truffles? A plate of chocolate-dipped strawberries? A heart-shaped sugar cookie topped with a personal message written in pencil-thin frosting?

Two Pittsburg bakeries, just blocks apart on Broadway in the heart of the downtown, will be working overtime the next two days to ensure that customers have plenty of choices. They're churning out the aforementioned holiday specialties and will have plenty for sale today and tomorrow during what owners consider one of the busiest 48-hour periods of the year.

Still, the owners were happy to provide tips to the do-it-yourselfer who wants to offer his or her sweetheart a gift not just from the heart, but from the kitchen.

Lori Horton, owner of Celebrations by Lori, at 602 N. Broadway, said one of her biggest Valentine's Day sellers -- chocolate-dipped strawberries -- is simple enough for even a beginner to try. That is, "as long as they have quality ingredients," she said.

"If you want a quality finished product, you have to start with quality ingredients," said Horton, who opened her business in 2000. Quality ingredients means not using almond bark from the grocery store, she said.

"Almond bark is not chocolate," she said. "It's largely paraffin. It has flavoring and filler. Or some people just melt chocolate chips in the microwave. For projects with kids, that's fine. But if you want something to present to someone to represent your feelings, you want it to be quality."

In addition to being a bakery, Horton's shop is unique to the area: It is the only designated baking and candy-making supply business within a two-hour radius.

"If you like Pinterest, you can bring those ideas in and find cute papers to bake cupcakes in; and toppers to personalize them; and heart-shaped cake pans -- really anything and everything to decorate with," she said.

She also offers four levels of decorating classes, from entry-level to intricate design techniques. Tuition is $35 for a four-week class, which is held for two hours one evening a week.


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