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I used to think a box of chocolates was a must on Valentines Day. Several years ago now, I discover that wasn’t the case. At the time, I had gifted my current sweetheart, of about three months, a gourmet box of truffles and a teddy bear with a heart. She chuckled and wondered if I could “possibly be more cliché?” Obviously, it wasn’t the reaction I was hoping for. Since then, I’ve been on the lookout for alternatives to the cliché chocolates.

This year I’ve come across two that I’ve rather liked. The first are from Dufflet, which you can read about here.  The others are the treats from Sweet Sally’s. Sweet Sally’s is a New York bakery that makes a variety of desserts with first-class ingredients and a little childhood nostalgia. They range from the more traditional heart-shaped brownie to the much more uncommon, Big Apple Crackle, which combines matzoh with chocolate and caramel. Each treat has its own little story of creation that range from tales of pure happenstance to acquiring secret recipes. In other words, these treats have soul. They’re not mass produced in astronomic quantities. There’s a unique character in each of them. So, avoid my unfortunate circumstance. Don’t get pinned with the dreaded cliché label. Read my description for each of the sweets below and decide which variety your sweetheart would enjoy.

 

Big Apple Crackle

The Big Apple Crackle came about as a creative Passover dessert several years ago. It’s certainly not typical, so, for some, it might take a bit of getting used to. There are rich chocolate, buttery caramel, and a few nutty flavors to enjoy, while the matzoh adds a one-of-a-kind crispy yet chewy element to the texture. Try these if you want something a bit unusual.

Heart-shaped Brownie

This may be traditional, but it’s a true delight. It’s chewy, rich, and buttery. There’s a hint of crunch to the outside layer, but the inside is gooey and full of great chocolate flavor. A real winner here.

Rugula

These have a chewy, flaky texture. Filled with currants and not too sweet, they’re pleasant, but not quite as delicious as the brownie.

Cranberry-Pecan Mandel Bread

It took years for founder Sally Minier to get her grandmother to show her how to make this treat, and once you try it, you’ll be glad she did. Bright flavors of cranberry and cinnamon lead the way. The crunchy crust and chewy inside are in perfect balance. Simply a first-class sweet.

Hamantashen

Traditionally baked for the Jewish holiday of Purim, these treats have a light crunchy, crumbly crust and a sweet fruit packed center. They are not overly sweet and strike a nice balance between the buttery outside shell and a chewy inside.

By Michael Perkins