DIY Valentine’s Gifts: For All Kinds of Love

Homemade gifts go beyond romantic love to show your favorite people that you care 


Valentine’s Day is the day of love, and it can also be a day to treat the special people in your life. Couples and singles alike can celebrate the day by exchanging thoughtful, homemade gifts with family, friends, and neighbors.

“Valentine’s Day does not just have to be about romance,” said Beth Nielsen, Chief Culinary Officer of Nielsen-Massey Vanillas, Inc. “Nielsen-Massey’s high-quality vanillas and flavors, such as our Chocolate Extract and Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract, make a flavorful addition to homemade gifts and are a great way to say ‘I love you’ to a parent, sibling, or best friend.”

If you are looking for an alternative to traditional boxed chocolates this year, homemade gifts using Nielsen-Massey Chocolate Extract are a heart-felt way to show someone that you care – even if you are not in a relationship. To give your gifts that extra-special touch, consider some unique packaging ideas:

• Package homemade biscotti, cookies, or brownies in vintage tins or jars. A beautiful container is an additional gift that the recipient can keep long after the cookies are gone.
• Instead of using traditional wrapping paper or gift bags, wrap boxes in craft paper and decorate with pens and markers. Wrap jars and bottles in fabric, burlap, or a pretty kitchen towel and secure it with colorful striped baker’s twine.
• Include a hand-written note or card with the recipe for your gift – it is the gift that keeps on giving!

For a thoughtful gift perfect for a best friend, family member, or even neighbor, consider making the recipe below for Biscotti del Boulangere pour Nielsen-Massey. Using Nielsen-Massey Chocolate Extract with chocolate chips creates crisp, dense biscotti full of chocolate flavor. Ideal for packaging and sharing, these biscotti are the perfect way to pamper your valentine this year.

Biscotti del Boulangere pour Nielsen-Massey

4 oz. unsalted butter
1/2 cup corn oil
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract
1/2 teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Lemon Extract
1 teaspoon Nielsen-Massy Orange Extract
1 teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Almond Extract
2 teaspoons Nielsen-Massey
Chocolate Extract

3 eggs
1/4 cup orange juice
4 cups, or more flour (to make a really thick but soft dough—not too stiff)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips (semi sweet or mixed white and dark chocolate)
1 cup chopped walnuts or macadamia nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a 9 inch by 9 inch baking pan with parchment paper. Spray the entire pan/paper with nonstick cooking spray. Place the pan on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.

In a mixing bowl, blend the butter, oil and sugar. Add the extracts and then blend in the eggs well. Add the juice and most of the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir well and add more flour only to make a very thick, typical biscotti batter. Fold in the chocolate chips and the walnuts.

Pat the batter into the pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes and then 325 degrees F for 20-45 minutes more until totally set and just beginning to color on top.

Chill for 30 minutes or let cool an hour. Then unmold and on a cutting board, with a very sharp, long knife, cut into 9 strips about .75 inch wide and lay on baking sheet again. Bake again to crisp, 20-30 minutes, turning once, at 325 degrees F . Alternatively, cut into 9 strips and then into 4 squares/blocks from that each.

You can also cut the strips thinner and bake, and then cut, once baked again, cut into small cookies. Makes 9 sticks of biscotti, 2-3 dozen chunks or dozens of small cookies (if you cut small cookies from thinner lengths). Freezes well.

A Marcy Goldman Original Recipe for Nielsen-Massey.