Valentine’s Day. The day when, more than at any other time of the year, people declare feelings of romantic interest, love, and adoration for one another. This is most-often done with a card. Approximately 150 million Valentine’s Day cards will be exchanged in the US, this year; 2.6 billion worldwide (according to the Greeting Card Association).
The oldest known Valentine’s Day card, if you will, is still in existence. It’s a poem from Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife; written while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1415, and preserved in the British Library in London.
Often a confectionary gift is presented as an affirmation of romantic or enduring love, as well. Sweets for one’s sweetheart. Confectionary-gift-giving appears to have roots in Victorian England, when Richard Cadbury, the second son of British cocoa trader and chocolate manufacturer John Cadbury and his wife, Candia, joined his father and uncle, Benjamin, in the family business. Chocolate was all the rage among the British aristocracy and Cadbury Brothers; chosen as cocoa manufacturer to Queen Victoria in 1853, had been introducing new lines of ‘eating’ chocolate at a time when most chocolate and cocoa were produced for drinking. Richard recognized a valuable marketing opportunity for the new chocolates and started selling them in attractively decorated boxes, which he personally designed.
Contemporary Valentine’s-Day-gift confections also include hard-candies; among them the ever-popular conversation hearts, as well as cakes, cupcakes, cookies, fudge, and much more.
Unfortunately, one of the most overlooked options for Valentine’s Day gift giving; one that is sweet, delicious, healthier than processed-white-sugar-based candies, and that supports local agriculture; is melt-in-your-mouth Valentine’s Day maple confections. If you’re looking for the perfect Valentine’s Day confection-gift for your sweetheart, many area maple syrup producers have maple cream and (heart-shaped) candies available for purchase right now. Some also offer block and granulated maple sugar, maple-coated nuts (peanuts, cashews, pecans, walnuts), maple jelly, maple cotton candy, maple lollipops and hard candy, and much more. All make fantastic gifts.
Keep in mind, too, that maple syrup is the perfect addition to a homemade Valentine’s Day breakfast in bed. Consider, for example, double-thick Texas French toast dipped in your favorite egg mix, grilled or griddled to a hot, crisp finish, stuffed with cream cheese (optional) and fresh fruit, and topped with pure maple syrup. Yummy!
To find a maple-confections-maker near you, visit the New York State Maple Producers Association website and click on ‘Find a Maple Farm’. You can enter your zip code where it says ‘near’, click on the magnifying glass, and then scroll down to find a producer list. Click on the farm(s) of your choice. Then click on ‘offers the following products’.
On February 15th from 6 to 8 pm, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Franklin County will be holding a workshop on how to make basic, high-quality value-added maple confections. The workshop will be held in the Franklin County Courthouse Kitchen. Click here for more information and to register for the workshop.
Photo: Parker Family Maple Syrup and Confections.