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50 Valentine's Day dessert recipes, from fun to fancy

From decadent cakes to heavenly mousses, we've got your sweet tooth and sweetheart covered this Valentine's Day.
/ Source: TODAY

Want to bake something special this Valentine's Day for your special sweetheart? Then make something sweet!

Maybe that person is your significant other, your kid, a friend, or yourself (hey, you deserve it all!). Maybe they’re a cake lover, a cookie queen, or that person who never makes it past eating the cookie dough from the bowl. Whomever you're spending the day with on Tuesday, Feb. 14, the TODAY Food team is spreading the love with these Valentine’s Day dessert recipes.

We know it can be hard to choose the right dessert for such a special occasion, so we’re here to help. First things first: What are doing for Valentine’s Day dinner? If you're cooking at home, choose a desser that will complement the main course. If you and your family are devouring Siri Daly’s heart-shaped meatloaf or a classic roasted chicken, ending the meal on a sweet note with a simple cake or red velvet brownies will hit the spot! If it’s a romantic dinner for two with, say, buttery scallops or gorgeous short-ribs from Jean-Georges, serve elegant ramekins of warm chocolate pudding or a salted-caramel tarte to win the heart of that special someone. We've also got plenty of playful riffs on other sweet classics like sugar-dusted churros, conversation heart cakes and caramel apple empanadas!

So take your time scrolling through, jot down the ingredients and enjoy this day devoted to spreading the love. Whatever you choose, we’ve got you covered — chocolate-covered, that is.


Valerie Bertinelli's Sicilian Love Cake

If it's got love in the name, especially when it's a nod to an Italian romance, it's a must-make for Valentine's Day. Store-bought chocolate cake mix and chocolate pudding mix are the secrets behind this easy cake from Valerie Bertinelli. There's a double dose of mascarpone cheese in both the filling and frosting.

Guinness Chocolate Cake

This cake from Irish chef Clodagh McKenna is majestically dark but surprisingly light and velvety in texture. The stout lover in your life will love the fact that the color resembles a pint of Guinness.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

This is one of the easiest cakes to make and — dare we say it — one of the sexiest! A combination of basic ingredients — butter, eggs, sugar, coffee liqueur and bittersweet chocolate — create this decadent dessert oozing with rich chocolate.

Truly, madly and deeply chocolate: Pools of rich salted caramel separate layers of chocolate cake, which are then swathed with dark chocolate frosting and sprinkled with flaky salt. Prep the wondrous cake layers and caramel up to three days before assembling (chilling actually improves the texture for stacking).

It's hard to share a Valentine's Day dessert roundup without including at least one red velvet cake recipe. The delicate combination of moist, ruby-red cake and cream cheese frosting is always a crowd-pleaser.

Christina Tosi's Valentine's Day Layer Cake

There's nothing sweeter than making someone you care about a Valentine's Day cake perfectly suited to his or her taste — and in this recipe, you can substitute any of your favorite fillings as a cake layer.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cake

The combination of smooth peanut butter and rich chocolate make this five-ingredient dessert incredibly decadent and irresistible to any peanut butter cup fan. Plus, the recipe uses boxed cake mix for an easier-than-ever dessert.

Mini Conversation Heart Cakes

This Valentine's Day, design your own Sweethearts for your sweetheart! These cakes are so much fun to bake, decorate and customize with fun and flirty phrases.

Serve these warm, molten cakes with chocolate ice cream for an over-the-top chocolate experience. Bonus: these can be made in advance.

Chocolate Cake

Coffee is the secret ingredient to making this chocolate cake moist and rich. Decorate it with plump berries and edible flowers for a dessert that's truly worthy of that special someone.

Vegan Matcha-Dark Chocolate Cake

Mashed ripe banana and Japanese ceremonial matcha powder make this cake one of the most beloved recipes in Candice Kumai's cookbooks.

Red Velvet Layer Cake

The bold color contrast of red velvet cake layers and pure white frosting make this scrumptious cake as appealing to look at as it is to eat.

Jean-Georges' Molten Chocolate Cake

These cakes are truly a treat for the senses: the rich chocolaty aroma, the decadent taste and, of course, the satisfying surprise of seeing the river of warm chocolate pour out when you cut into them.

Warm Chocolate Pudding Cakes

There's something extra-special about a personal, individually-sized cake … especially when it's a molten chocolate cake served warm out of the oven.

Rainbow Heart Cake

Amanda Rettke goes beyond classic desserts with her creative ideas for making amazing over-the-top cakes. Here are her step-by-step instructions for how to make her surprise rainbow heart cake.

Get love drunk with a double infusion of booze that's added to both the filling and the chocolate sauce. The fragrant bourbon and chocolate give this cheesecake an extra shot of decadence.

Dylan's Pistachio Cake

"Yes, pistachio is in the name, but it's a totally light and sweet cake-like dessert that I find refreshing as well," says TODAY's Dylan Dreyer about this wonderful after-dinner dessert.

Cookies and bars

These bars are rich, creamy, satisfying and make any store-bought peanut butter cup pale in comparison. You can also use crushed pretzels instead of graham crackers for a saltier boost. Serve 'em straight from the fridge so they don't get too soft.

Hidden Surprise Valentine's Cookies

Getting the gorgeous dual-hued stripes in these heart-shaped cookies takes a bit of effort, but the surprise inside, along with the buttery, sweet flavor, makes this treat completely worth it.

Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Heart Cookies

Get The Recipe

Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Heart Cookies

Kristen Tomlan, founder of DŌ, Cookie Dough Confections

Not only is the cookie dough beautifully bake-able but also safe to eat uncooked. Win-win! Use a mix of dark and white chocolate, food coloring and sprinkles for fun and festive decorating.

XO Valentine's Day Sugar Cookies

Decorate these two ways: either with royal icing or with a thick smear of fluffy frosting and rock candy on top.

Salted Peanut Butter-Caramel Bars

In this recipe, peanut butter is used along with medjool dates and coconut sugar to create a silky and delicious date caramel that rests on a shortbread crust. Top it all off with dark chocolate because of course.

Flourless Soy Sauce Brownies

The use of this yeasty, salty condiment in a brownie is surprising, but it brings a complex depth of flavor to this classic sweet treat. Soy sauce amplifies the chocolate note, bringing a rich caramel glow. The end result very much resembles salted caramel.

Gluten-Free Skillet Brownie

This recipe is just as delicious and decadent as a normal brownie, but a tad better for you because it doesn't use refined sugars or all-purpose flour. Instead, they rely on almond flour, which creates a fine crumb and all-around better texture.

If you don't tell people these cookies are gluten-free and vegan, they'll never know. They've got that perfect balance of crunchy and chewy; plus, they pop with even more chocolate.

Whether you freeze the dough into individual cookie balls to bake at a later date, or bake in a skillet for one giant, sensational, golden-brown cookie, it's sure to win over whoever is eating it. Top it with good-quality vanilla ice cream for an extra-scrumptious treat.

These homemade bars taste just like the beloved classic cups. Velvety chocolate enrobes creamy peanut butter in a perfectly sized two-bite treat.

Red Velvet Brownies with Cream Cheese Frosting

When it comes to these red velvet brownies, it's all about the frosting. A kiss of rich cream cheese frosting immediately puts us on cloud nine.

A chewy and healthy cookie dough base meets a 3-ingredient vegan caramel, all topped off with a layer of smooth chocolate. Place it in the fridge for an easy, oven-less dessert that also happens to be dairy-free, gluten-free and refined sugar-free!

Pies, tarts and other confections

Valentine's Day Ombre Cherries

A fun twist on chocolate-dipped cherries, these three-ingredient ombre-colored treats look absolutely beautiful on any table spread.

Siri's Chocolate Fondue

This is a truly simple dessert to pull off, and yet it appears super impressive. And at the end of the day, there's nothing more deliciously romantic than dipping assorted fruits and cake into melted chocolate.

Make your date salivate with dates! When the medjool variety are heated, they develop a delicious caramel flavor that’s balanced perfectly with nut butter. Add a little chocolate and flaky sea salt and you've got yourself an incredible and easy dessert.

Vanilla Bean Churros with Chocolate Dipping Sauce

All you need is a few pantry staples and 20 minutes to make your own churros, plus an easy chocolate dipping sauce. The result is a batch of warm, sugar-flecked pastries that melt in your mouth.

Chocolate Pots de Crème

Your guest will never know that their restaurant-worthy dessert only required three ingredients and minutes to make. This is a showstopper every single time!

Individual desserts are the perfect way to add a little romance. One of Al Roker's favorites are these made-from-scratch strawberry shortcakes because they offer a fabulous mix of flavors and textures. And yes, it's worth the extra effort to make homemade whipped cream and biscuits.

Classic Key Lime Pie

For those who love a touch of tartness in their sweets, Key lime pie is a timeless favorite. Jocelyn Delk Adams shares how to make it with a homemade graham cracker crust, which brings the confection from fine to fabulous.

Love is definitely in your future if you make this tart filled with salted caramel, lavender-infused ganache and topped with toasted marshmallow.

Sunny Anderson's bread pudding is an ode to the famed Mother's Restaurant in New Orleans. She uses croissants as the base and swirls in rich chocolate and bourbon-infused whipped cream.

Cheesecake-Stuffed Strawberries

These bite-sized beauties taste decadent but are surprisingly light, thanks to a smart balance of rich filling and sweet strawberries.

Quick Coffee-Chocolate Mousse

This quick dessert recipe is perfect for any home baker who is pressed for time but still wants to deliver something special.

Nothing warms you from the inside out quite like a cup of rich, creamy hot cocoa on a cold day. This perfectly chocolatey recipe is one of Martha Stewart's favorites and is a totally drinkable dessert.

These truffles are inspired by brigadeiros, a confection popular throughout Brazil. Here, the traditional chocolate sprinkles get swapped for a festive Valentine's Day color combo.

There are so many recipes for chocolate mousse, but Julia Child's, which uses egg yolks and butter, yields silky, smooth results every time.

Chocolate Truffles

These truffles are great to give as a Valentine's Day gift, but they're so tasty, you just might want to keep them all for yourself.

Delicate angel hair pasta isn't just delicious in savory dishes. Once it's fried and golden, it's a fantastic base for crispy desserts like this Sicilian pasta fritta that's drizzled with a vanilla-honey mixture and sweetened crème fraîche sauce.

Strawberry Tiramisu

This strawberry tiramisu takes all the classic moves of the traditional espresso-flavored dessert and gives it a vibrant, fruity twist. It also gives the liquor-soaked treat a more family-friendly makeover (think: elegant strawberry milk) and is a great option when serving those who choose not to drink.

Rose Panna Cotta

Panna cotta, a smooth, gelatin-based dessert that's traditionally served cold, gets infused with the natural flavors of a summer garden in this easy Italian dessert. The heavy cream, vanilla bean and rose water make this sweet ending a simple confection worthy of an elegant soiree or warm weather picnic.

Brown Butter Apple Crostata

The brown butter filling is delightful because it works with apples, pears, cherries, berries — whatever fruit is in season, and you have on hand. But there's more — this sweetie is also really great the next morning for breakfast!

Warm Mini Apple Pie Empanadas

Turn apple pie into a handheld treat with these easy baked dessert empanadas. Tender apples and warm fall spices are the perfect contrast to buttery flaky pastry. These are lovely on their own, but also fun to serve with caramel or butterscotch sauce for dipping.