I bake up something special for my nephews for almost every holiday, so this year I had big plans for Valentine's Day. My original petit fours idea went out the window when I realized my favorite almond cake wouldn't work. My nephew has a nut allergy, and I'd rather a gift from me not cause him to swell up and get rashy
Thus, the idea for brownie bites was born. You really don't need much aside from the basic ingredients, a tiny heart shaped cookie cutter, a 9x13 inch baking pan, and about an hour.
To package them up I used mini cupcake liners (I'm pretty sure they are Wilton and can be found in most craft stores or Walmart) and tucked them into a small box. I had a plastic package from pine nuts that I thought made them look cutesy and store bought, but any small box will do. The label is just decorative paper, gel ink, and spray adhesive: easy peasy blah blah blah...Jojo's Sweethearts Brownie Bites:
One batch of standard brownie batter (I used a box, but you can make your favorite from scratch recipe)
Zest of one tangerine
1 cup dark fondue chocolate (or candy melts)
Pink, white, and red nonpareils
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9x13 inch glass pan and line with parchment paper to create a sling. Stir zest into brownie batter. (This isn't essential, but it is soo very worth it. A bit of orange flavor really kicks up chocolate, and these end up being super-moist little decadent treats instead of 'just another brownie.') Pour into prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Remove from pan to a cutting board when completely cooled.
Use a small heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut out brownies. Set aside.
In a double boiler or microwave, melt chocolate. Using a fork*, dip brownies into melted chocolate, allowing excess to drip off. Lay on a wire rack** and decorate with nonpareils and sweethearts. You need to do this step quickly as the chocolate sets as soon as it cools! Continue for each brownie:
Allow chocolate to set for 15 minutes before packaging.
* I don't spear the brownies with a fork, I lay them flat on top of the tines. It lets all the extra chocolate drip off, and they slide off the fork easily.
** I don't use wax paper for this because I hate when little pools of chocolate harden around the bottom of a treat. It ruins it. This way any excess drips off, and I can just pop the cooled bites off by pushing them up from underneath the rack with my fingers. Yes, you'll get a little wire mark in the bottom, but it's better than a puddle!
And one last quick note! If you plan to ship these, like I did, you'll want to make sure they are snugly packaged to avoid breakage. Since my plastic box was just taller than the brownies, they didn't move around at all. If you use a bigger box and there is open space, pack it with a little crumpled parchment paper, tissue, or more baking papers so the brownies won't jump around.