Apart from the obvious association with all things love and Cupid, Valentine's Day is synonymous with chocolate. Although traditional uses of cacao among the Mayans included gifting it for marriage ceremonies, the present-day incarnation of heart-shaped chocolates can be traced to Richard Cadbury (yes, that Cadbury) in the 1800s. But while chocolatey indulgence does it for some people, there are plenty whose preferences lie elsewhere.
If you've got a chocolate-averse Valentine or simply want to experiment with novel flavors on a classically choco-centric day, you're in luck. We've collected our favorite chocolate-free Valentine's Day desserts to assist you with your choice. From decadent caramel confections to fruity tarts, frozen treats, and creamy delights, you're sure to find just the right recipe to satisfy everyone's desires. Prepare them in a two-person serving, or enjoy the leftovers to keep the loving feeling in the air for longer. Read on for our favorite alternatives to chocolate for a deliciously sweet ending to your Valentine's Day dinner.
Read more: 25 Best Ice Cream Brands Ranked
No-Churn Vanilla Dulce De Leche Homemade Ice Cream
For a frozen delicacy to tantalize your Valentine's taste buds, homemade ice cream is the way to go. Aside from being seriously impressive, vanilla cream marbled with a dulce de leche swirl is about as decadent as it gets. Similar to caramel, make dulce de leche by cooking down sweetened condensed milk. Or, buy it premade and spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your loved one.
No-Churn Pomegranate Ice Cream
You'll only need a bit of foresight and an electric mixer to whip up this dazzling fruit-based ice cream, which is sweetened with condensed milk and flavored with pomegranate juice. This tasty dish offers an excellent backdrop for romantic garnishes ─ add some edible flowers and pomegranate arils to bring some Valentine's Day aesthetics to the mix. Pick up some sugar cones to serve it the fun way, or scoop the creamy goodness into bowls.
Recipe: No-Churn Pomegranate Ice Cream
No-Bake Strawberry Cheesecake
Whether you live somewhere hot or don't have enough space in your oven to accommodate a cake, this no-bake cheesecake is the solution. The aesthetics are on point thanks to the bubblegum-pink hue courtesy of oodles of strawberries and strawberry jam. Make a standard graham cracker crust, then blend strawberries, cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Combine the fruity mixture with strawberry jam and whipped topping, then pour the contents over the crust. Freeze the cheesecake to ensure it sets fully and serve it with whipped cream and strawberries.
Recipe: No-Bake Strawberry Cheesecake
Classic Crème Brûlée
If you can't swing a flight to Paris with your sweetheart, a classic French dessert is the next best runner-up. Aromatized with fresh vanilla bean, this iconic treat is all about simple high-quality ingredients. Use the best eggs and cream you can find (it'll be cheaper than the overseas flight!) and make sure you have a blowtorch handy. After all, a crème brûlée is nothing without its crackly top.
Recipe: Classic Crème Brûlée
Classic Zabaglione With Figs And Amaretti
This Italian-inspired recipe is an excellent way to infuse your Valentine's Day with extra romance. Zabaglione is a light and creamy custard fortified with Marsala wine and a hint of nutmeg. Serve it with tiny amaretti biscuits for a nutty almond taste, along with sliced fresh figs to add a succulent touch. Serve the zabaglione warm, or prep it ahead of time and chill it so you can spend every last minute with your dear.
4-Ingredient Peanut Butter Ice Cream
You'll have to get a day's headstart on this nutty dessert, but if your Valentine is a peanut butter lover, this is a must. All you need are four basic ingredients (milk, sugar, egg yolks, peanut butter) and an ice cream maker to create this recipe. Serve the scoops solo or enhance them with a drizzle of caramel sauce. Alternatively, go all out on this special day and use your peanut butter ice cream as the foundation for a sundae or banana split, topped with caramel sauce, chopped nuts, and whipped cream.
Easy Tres Leches Cake
This Latin American classic incorporates three types of milk (whole, evaporated, and condensed) to produce an airy cake with a perfectly moist consistency. The cake batter is fairly standard, but the unique twist comes from pricking the surface once it's baked and pouring a milk and cream mixture over the top. As the liquid oozes in, the delicate cake soaks it all up. Top it with whipped cream and add sliced strawberries for a bright red garnish.
Recipe: Easy Tres Leches Cake
Vanilla Cream Puffs
These vanilla cream puffs taste simultaneously indulgent and delicate ─ the perfect combination for a Valentine's Day feast. If you're looking for a dessert worthy of a pastry chef (minus the tricky technique), this one hits the spot with its doughy shell and creamy filling. It's made with baking staples like flour, butter, sugar, eggs, and cream. Vanilla bean adds an infusion of flavor that makes these puffs extra delectable and worthy of a date with that special someone.
Recipe: Vanilla Cream Puffs
Vanilla Chai Spice Pudding With Maple Pecans
A chai-flavored confection is the way to go for the Valentine who always orders chai lattes. This fragrant vanilla chai spice pudding is brimming with creaminess in every spoonful. Toasted maple-glazed pecans contrast with their crunchy quality and candied nutty profile that pairs wonderfully with the base. To emphasize the special occasion, add a dollop of whipped cream. Serve it warm or premade and chilled for a sweet and spiced treat.
With its luxurious custard texture, Cuban flan transforms your last course into a sensory delight. Start by making a caramel mixture, then top it with a creamy combination of sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, whole milk, and eggs, aromatized with vanilla and cinnamon. You'll need to bake and refrigerate the flan, so make sure to set enough time aside while it rests. Once it's ready, flip it over to reveal a caramel sheen, and serve it with fresh raspberries for a garnish fitting of the occasion.
Recipe: Cuban Flan
Best Coconut Custard Pie
This dazzling pie proves that you don't need to include chocolate for pure decadence. Prepare a custard filling with eggs, milk, flour, sugar, and butter, then take it up a notch with a splash of vanilla and flaked coconut. Pour the contents into a premade pie crust (or make your own if you want to impress your Valentine), then sprinkle extra coconut over the top. Bake this treat until the coconut is golden and the custard is set, then serve it with a dollop of whipped cream. Because more is more.
Recipe: Best Coconut Custard Pie
Easy Coffee Gelato
Relive your first coffee date with this frosty variation. Start the day by brewing a pot of coffee with your Valentine's favorite beans. Save a cup from breakfast and combine it with cream, milk, and sugar. Add everything to your trusty ice cream machine and let the gelato firm up over a couple of hours. This sweet and bitter gelato is the perfect choice for your special someone if coffee is their love language.
Recipe: Easy Coffee Gelato
Baked Cinnamon Custard
If you love your sweetheart but hate sharing, prep mini portion-sized dishes so you each have your own. This baked cinnamon custard might be made with simple ingredients, but they stand out once they come together. Cinnamon adds an earthy spice to this creamy dish, and you can include vanilla if desired to further enhance the aromas. Spoon the custard into individual ramekins to bake, then serve them with extra cinnamon and fresh berries for a burst of juicy flavor.
Recipe: Baked Cinnamon Custard
Strawberry Rhubarb Custard Tart
Strawberries and rhubarb prove that opposites attract, and that's evident in this delightful tart. Mix chopped fruit with sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon, then combine it with a simple custard. Pour the contents into a premade shortcrust pastry and top the surface with cubed butter for an extra layer of richness. Take it a step further by serving the baked tart with a dusting of powdered sugar, a dollop of whipped cream, or a scoop of ice cream ... or all three!
Recipe: Strawberry Rhubarb Custard Tart
Refreshing Strawberry Sorbet
Valentine's Day dinners often consist of rich ingredients and elaborate techniques, which makes a fresh sorbet an excellent complement. If your freezer is still brimming with your summer strawberry harvest, prepare a fruity sorbet as a palate cleanser. All you need is frozen fruit, sugar, lemon juice, and a blender to prepare this vibrant delight. Thanks to the bright red fruit, you've already got the ideal color to highlight the heart-fueled day.
Recipe: Refreshing Strawberry Sorbet
Baked Ricotta Cheesecake
Appeal to your lover's sweet tooth by serving this scrumptiuous ricotta cheesecake as a Valentine's Day dessert. You'll want to start the day before to avoid rushing this time-sensitive recipe. Use Biscoff cookies to make the base, and incorporate both cream cheese and ricotta for the filling, as well as sugar, vanilla, and eggs. Bake the cake in a water bath until it reaches a wobbly consistency, then chill it for several hours so it properly sets. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top and scatter fresh berries over the surface before serving up a tasty slice.
Recipe: Baked Ricotta Cheesecake
Lemon Cheesecake Bars
If your Valentine prefers tangy flavors, lemon is the answer. These cheesecake bars are easy to portion and transport, making them an optimal choice for a picnic date. You simply prep a basic graham cracker crust and press it into a square pan. Make the filling with cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, zest, vanilla, and egg. Pour it over the crust and bake until the top is lightly golden and set. A sprinkling of powdered sugar and lemon zest highlights the contrasting flavors.
Recipe: Lemon Cheesecake Bars
Classic New York-Style Cheesecake
It's hard to go wrong with cheesecake, and for the purists out there, the classic New York style is the only way to go. Prep a graham cracker crust to hold the luscious filling made with cream cheese, sugar, heavy cream, sour cream, vanilla, and flour. Bake the cake until the center is set then chill it before serving. Feel free to drizzle raspberry or strawberry coulis over top to give this classic a Valentine's Day makeover.
Roasted Strawberry And Black Pepper Gelato
Pink-hued strawberry gelato is great for Valentine's Day, but if you want to show your love further via a culinary creation, roasted strawberries make all the difference. As they roast, the fruit releases plenty of sugars and takes on a jammy taste ─ perfect for enhancing a creamy gelato. Add black pepper to contrast the flavors with a hint of spice, and serve the rosy scoops with a fresh strawberry or two to garnish.
Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake
Both stunning and delicious, adding a raspberry swirl to a classic New York-style cheesecake gives it that extra oomph for a romantic meal. Sprinkle a bit of cinnamon into the graham cracker crust and top it with a traditional cheesecake filling, adding a hint of lemon zest to complement the tang. Prep a raspberry puree with fruit, lemon, sugar, and cornstarch, then dollop it over the surface. Use a knife to create raspberry swirls before baking this marbled cake. Leave enough time to refrigerate it before serving, and save a few raspberries to garnish.
Recipe: Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake
Fig And Caramel Mini Cheesecakes
Mini cheesecakes are perfect for any type of Valentine's Day celebration, be it a one-on-one date, group celebration, or solo night. The graham cracker crust and cheesecake filling stick to traditional flavors, but the topping veers off into novel territory. Heat sugar to make caramel, then add heavy cream and a fig spread. Finish it off with a splash of brandy for a grown-up kick, and drizzle it over the baked cheesecakes. Add chopped pistachios and half a fig to complete these enchanting bites.
Recipe: Fig and Caramel Mini Cheesecakes
Strawberry Sponge Cake
Fresh strawberries need little to stand out, and this sponge cake displays them front and center. Whip up two sponge cakes and bake them until golden, then make a sweet cream cheese filling. Combine sliced strawberries with sugar and maple syrup to bring out their natural sugars. Top one sponge cake with cream and strawberries, then repeat with the second. This double-layered cake is sure to satisfy anyone with a fondness for strawberries and cream.
Recipe: Strawberry Sponge Cake
Vanilla-Glazed Mochi Donuts
Try something different for Valentine's Day with these vanilla-glazed mochi donuts. They might look like delicate pastries from a fine baker, but they're pretty straightforward to prepare. Mochi gets its incomparable chewy texture thanks to glutinous rice flour. Make the donuts by combining tiny balls of mochi dough and frying the rings until golden. Decorate with a simple vanilla glaze and serve them with fresh strawberries for a fruity touch. If you end up with leftovers, just serve them with coffee for breakfast the next morning.
Recipe: Vanilla-Glazed Mochi Donuts
Fun & Easy Sopapilla Cheesecake
This recipe is the twist on Mexican sopapillas and cheesecake you didn't know you needed in your life. Using premade crescent dough on the top and bottom simplifies the process and adds a flaky quality to the texture. In between the two sheets, a mixture of cream cheese, eggs, sugar, and vanilla makes this dessert worthy of its name. Brush the top pastry sheet with butter and sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the surface before baking. The result is simultaneously crispy, flaky, and ultra creamy ─ what's not to love?
Recipe: Fun & Easy Sopapilla Cheesecake
Brown Butter And Pecan Ice Cream
Browning butter transforms the ingredient from staple to super special. Use it to flavor a rich custard, then combine it with heavy cream and let your ice cream maker work its magic. The nutty notes of brown butter are further enhanced by chopped pecans, elevating this ice cream to a gourmet level. Pair it with a sugar cone for the ultimate sweet, nutty, creamy, and crunchy Valentine's Day dessert.
Recipe: Brown Butter and Pecan Ice Cream
Cranberry Ricotta Cake
Cranberries stud each slice for a visually appealing cake to serve on February 14. Aside from fresh fruit, the batter consists of baking staples, along with ricotta, orange zest, and Grand Marnier for flavor. The result is light and fluffy, with just the right fruity fragrance and tinge of alcohol to make each bite stand out. Dust it with powdered sugar for an elegant look, or serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for an indulgent pairing.
Recipe: Cranberry Ricotta Cake
Matcha Strawberry Icebox Cake
If you're preparing a meal for a matcha lover, this icebox cake will win them over. First, whip up a filling made with cream cheese, powdered sugar, matcha powder, vanilla, and heavy cream. Then, alternate layers of matcha cream, graham crackers, and sliced strawberries, until you've used up the ingredients and filled a loaf pan. Finish it off with extra whipped cream and chill it overnight. Once it's time to bring out dessert, top it with sliced strawberries for a vibrant look.
Recipe: Matcha Strawberry Icebox Cake
Oregon Hazelnut And Salted Caramel Affogato
Sometimes, the best things come from a container. If you're going all out and making the main course from scratch, lighten up your workload with this recipe. Pick up a container of Tillamook Oregon hazelnut and salted caramel ice cream (or the closest option you can find) and use it as the base for an affogato. For the uninitiated, an affogato is a shot of espresso poured over ice cream. Add a personal touch by making espresso and hazelnut meringues or stick to the basic components.
Classic Swedish Princess Cake (Prinsesstårta)
You don't need to be a princess, or dine with one, to feel like royalty ─ this classic Swedish princess cake will do that for you. Impress your admirer with this multi-layered treat made up of sponge cake, raspberry jam, crème pâtissière, and whipped cream. Top the cake with a green marzipan coating (or make it pink or red for the occasion), and finish it off with a decorative marzipan rose in the center.
French Strawberry Pie
Try this strawberry pie recipe for an easy no-bake option that's ready in a jiffy ─ just let it chill while you linger over your Valentine's Day dinner. Buy a premade graham cracker crust and top it with a mixture of cream cheese and whipped topping. Then, simmer sliced strawberries in a saucepan with cornstarch and sugar until you have a jammy consistency. Once the fruit cools down, pour it over the creamy surface and refrigerate. Dish out this pie with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream and your sweetheart is sure to come back for seconds.
Recipe: French Strawberry Pie
Read the original article on Tasting Table.