Barnyard Valentines

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by Candace Brower
Photography by Cedric Smith

So I’m sitting around the studio playing with a jar of farm animals and this happened. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Let’s have some fun!!
What you need:
Biting Wit
Card Stock (I used white)
Fun colored paper (I used gingham parchment paper)
Glue Stick
Printer
Glitter Tape
Scissors
Toy Barnyard Animals
Barnyard Valentines from Libbie Summers (photography by Cedric Smith)
What to do:
•Think of witty puns involving barnyard animals and print on card stock leaving plenty of room in the middle to accommodate the toy animal.
Some examples include:  “another valentine’s day and you still boar me.”, “wool you be my valentine?”, “i’ve got no beef with you, let’s be valentines.”, “some bunny loves you, too bad it’s not me. happy valentine’s day anyway.”, “you’re kind of a cool chick. let’s be valentines.”
•Cut a second piece of card stock just bigger than the first and glue on cute piece of colored paper (I used gingham parchment and yellow construction paper).
•Glue the printed valentine onto the center of the larger colored piece of paper.
•Cut a piece of glitter tape (or any tape) and tape the coordinating barnyard animal to the middle of the card.
•Use colored markers to adorn with hearts or sign your name or do whatever makes you feel better about yourself.
•Give away to those you love and love your sense of humor.
Barnyard Valentine's from Libbie Summers (photography by Cedric Smith)

Hot and Heavy Baby Cakes

By Libbie Summers from my book Sweet and Vicious-baking with attitude, Rizzoli
Photography by Chia Chong 
Model: Anna Heritage

There’s something about a girl holding a cinnamon candy small cake topped with a hand cut paper heart that screams Valentine’s Day.
Hot and Heavy Baby Cakes from Libbie Summers' Sweet and Vicious-baking with attitude (Photography by Chia Chong)

Hot and Heavy Baby Cakes with Kiss Me Frosting
yields 4 triple-layer baby cakes/serves 12

Ingredients:
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons S&V House Blend Almond Extract or regular almond extract
2 3⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1⁄3 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3⁄4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
5 large eggs (4 separated, 1 whole)
1 1⁄2 cups crushed Red Hots cinnamon candies, plus more left whole for garnish
1 to 2 Atomic Fire Balls candy, crushed (I use a zip-top bag and a hammer)
Kiss Me Frosting (recipe to follow)

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a heavy-duty 13-by-18-inch rimmed baking sheet (a half sheet pan) with parchment paper and set aside.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and almond extract. Set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt on low speed. Add the butter and mix just until a fine crumb forms. If a paste forms instead, that’s okay. With the mixer on medium speed, add 4 egg whites one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the whole egg and beat well. Scrape down the bowl as needed. Add the buttermilk mixture in thirds, beating well after each addition until the batter is fluffy. Scrape down the bowl as needed. Fold in the Red Hots. Pour the batter onto the baking sheet, evenly spread the batter with a spatula, and bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Rotate the baking sheet once halfway through the baking process.

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the Atomic Fire Balls in 1⁄4 cup water. If you like a spicier syrup, add more crushed !reballs. Remove from the heat and let the syrup cool completely.

Let the cake cool completely in the baking sheet. Using a chopstick or skewer, poke holes in the top of the cake. Lightly brush it with the syrup and let the syrup soak into the cake. Use a 3 1⁄2-inch ring mold to cut 12 cake rounds (each cake will be three layers thick).* Frost the cake using a heaping 1⁄4 cup frosting between each layer. Frost the sides and top and pipe a small tree on top…just waiting for a cardboard star!

Kiss Me Frosting
(cinnamon buttercream)
yields about 3 1⁄2 cups

I get weak in the knees when I think about how powerful this frosting is. I have found nothing—nothing—that it doesn’t taste good on. Biscuits, baby cakes, bacon, and my husband’s sweet lips.

Ingredients:
1 cup (2 sticks ) butter, at room temperature 4 1⁄2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
2 tablespoons evaporated milk
1⁄8 teaspoon red food coloring
1 (6-ounce) box Red Hots cinnamon candies, pulsed in a food processor to crush

Directions:
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until fluffy. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the confectioners’ sugar. Increase the speed to medium and add the salt, vanilla paste, and evaporated milk. Beat for 2 minutes. If the frosting is too thin at this point you can add more of the confectioners’ sugar and mix for 30 seconds, or just until combined. If the frosting is too thick, add a bit more evaporated milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, and mix for 30 seconds, or just until combined. Add the food coloring and mix until fully incorporated. Remove the bowl and use a spatula to fold in the crushed cinnamon candies. Refrigerate the frosting for 10 minutes before using. Frosting can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for up to one week.
*this recipe also bakes up great as cupcakes