Valentine’s Day is just a few days away. This is traditionally the day for sweethearts to express their love for each other. Some, however, see it as just another Hallmark holiday for which millions of cards are purchased.

If you’re among those who’d demonstrate you care about someone – and you want to do it with a homemade touch this year, I have just the recipe for you.

For as long as I can remember, my stepmother, Paula Lunn, has been making all kinds of chocolates in her kitchen. Her chocolate peanut clusters and chocolate covered strawberries are delicious. I even have a memory of her making me chocolates in the shape of letters so my sister and I could make chocolate “words.”

No matter what she makes, presentation is a priority.

She wraps her tasty gifts in attractive packaging, often with a bow. When I attempt to recreate her tasty concoctions in my kitchen, I find myself wishing she lived closer so she could help me wrap them. She always makes each gift look special. When I do it, it never looks as nice.

True to her creative nature, more than 20 years ago, my stepmom spotted a chocolate pizza in a catalog and said to herself, “I can make that!” So without ordering a sample, she set about testing until she came up with one that satisfied her taste buds.

Whenever she gave a chocolate pizza as a gift presented in a real pizza box wrapped with a pretty red bow, people would, no doubt, wonder: Why did Paula bring me a pizza? Then they’d open the box to find a perfect 12-inch chocolate pie topped with peanuts, raisins, craisins, almonds and white chocolate (to represent the cheese).

Just recently, my son just called my stepmom (“Mimi”) last night with a special request. “Mimi, when you come to visit us at the end of February, can you bring me a chocolate pizza?”

Knowing Mimi, she’ll not only bring the yummy pizza but other treats as well. What I want to know is if after my 4-year-old eats all of this chocolate, may I leave him with her for several hours?

Chocolate pizza recipe

Ingredients:

1 pound chocolate wafers (Paula uses Merckens brand wafers, a high quality chocolate. The higher the quality, the better the taste). You want wafers designed for melting and molding. You can find these at most craft stores or on the Internet.

¼ cup Craisins (dried cranberries)

¼ cup raisins

1 cup peanuts

½ cup almonds

¼ pound or less of white chocolate wafers for melting and drizzling on top of pizza to look like cheese

For presentation as a gift

14-inch pizza box. (Boxes can be bought online in large quantities or from an Italian restaurant supplier.)

2 large doilies

Red bow

Method:

In a double boiler, melt 1 pound of chocolate. If you don’t have a double boiler, some brands of melt and mold chocolates give you directions for melting at ½ power in your microwave. If you use a double boiler, make sure to wipe any water condensation off the pot before you pour the chocolate. If water gets into the chocolate, this can cause the milk chocolate to discolor and cool with white streaks. Pour the melted chocolate into a 12-inch aluminum pizza pan. Sprinkle the toppings – craisins, raisins, peanuts and almonds – over the melted chocolate. You don’t want to bury the toppings into the chocolate because it looks more “realistic” and pretty if the toppings are just scattered on top. Depending on the grade of chocolate used, you may get white streaks if you let the chocolate cool on the counter. The higher grade chocolates can be cooled at room temperature. Just to be on the safe side, I always cool my chocolate in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.

When the chocolate is cool, melt the white chocolate and place it in a plastic, zipped bag. Snip a corner of the bag with scissors so you can squeeze the chocolate out of the bag as if you are decorating a cake. Pipe the white chocolate over the finished pizza. Return to refrigerator to cool the white chocolate.

Before giving the pizza, place two doilies in the box. Close the box and tie with a red bow. If you are unable to find a pizza box, wrap the pizza in cellophane and secure with a big red bow.


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