Photo: gluten-free cookies from Beautiful Sweets.
Celiac.com 02/08/2011 - Valentine's Day is upon us once again, and, once again, the options are many. Dine in? Dine out? Sweets or no sweets? Chocolates? Cakes? Candies? How to make sure it's all gluten-free?

The choices can be daunting enough, but for people with a gluten-free spouse or loved one, those choices can make or break a Valentine's Day celebration.

To make things easier and to help you have the best possible gluten-free Valentine's Day, celiac.com has prepared this list of ideas and tips.

Candy:
For a comprehensive list of gluten-free candies, please see Celiac.com's Gluten-friendly and Gluten-Free Candy and Treats.

Dine-in:
For an easy, intimate Valentine's dinner at home, try gluten-free Cornish Game Hens.

Dessert:

Gluten-free Chocolate Valentine's Mousse

Ingredients:
8 strawberries (optional)
Chocolate Hearts (optional)
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup milk
½ cup water
4 egg yolks, beaten
1 ¾ cups Hershey's Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips or Hershey's Milk Chocolate Chips
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup whipping cream, whipped
½ cup whipping cream, whipped

Directions:
  1. Prepare Chocolate Hearts.
  2. Stir together sugar and cornstarch in medium heavy saucepan. Stir in milk and water. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until boiling. Stir about half of hot mixture into beaten egg yolks. Return all to saucepan. Boil gently 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
  3. Add chocolate chips and vanilla to hot mixture; stir until chocolate is melted. Pour into small metal bowl. Set bowl inside a larger bowl filled with ice water. Beat on high speed of mixer about 5 minutes or until chocolate mixture is completely cooled. Fold in the whipped ¾ cup cream. Spoon into martini glasses or dessert dishes.
  4. Cover lightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 30 minutes or up to 2 days. Just before serving, top each with a dollop of the whipped ½ cup cream and a strawberry, if desired. Peel chocolate hearts from wax paper; place one on each dessert. 8 servings.
Chocolate Hearts: Place ¼ cup Hershey's Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips or Milk Chocolate Chips and ½ teaspoon shortening (do not use butter, margarine, spread or oil) in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH (100%) 45 seconds; stir until melted. Let stand 2 minutes. Pour into heavy duty small plastic bag, Cut off a tiny corner of the bag. Squeeze bag to pipe mixture into heart shapes on wax paper. Refrigerate until firm.

Tip: To form perfectly shaped chocolate hearts, trace around a small heart-shaped cookie cutter on a piece of white paper. Tape wax paper over the white paper; pipe chocolate on wax paper following the outline.

For an alternative to chocolate mousse, gluten-free baked apples make a great Valentine's treat.

If baking is the path to the heart of your beloved, then try making this flowerless chocolate cake.

Flourless Chocolate Valentine's Cake

Ingredients:
8-10 strawberries
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon of powdered sugar
18 ounces bittersweet chocolate in small pieces
1 cup unsalted butter
6 eggs
Sprig of mint (garnish)

Directions:
Heat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).

Grease one 10 inch round cake pan and set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium heat combine the water, salt and sugar. Stir until completely dissolved and set aside.

Use a double boiler or a microwave oven to melt the bittersweet chocolate.

Pour the melted chocolate into a mixing bowl.

Cut the butter into small pieces and beat the butter into the chocolate, 1 piece at a time. Beat in the hot sugar-water. Slowly beat in the eggs, one at a time.

Pour the mixture into the greased cake pan.

Fill a pan that is larger than the cake pan halfway with boiling water.

Place the cake pan and mixture into the pan with the boiling water.

Bake cake in the water bath at 300 degrees F (150 degrees C) for 45 minutes. When the cake is done, the center will still look wet.

Remove the pan from the water and place in a refrigerator overnight. To release from the mold, place the bottom of the cake pan in hot water for 10-15 seconds and flip onto a serving plate. Dust with powdered sugar. Garnish each slice with strawberry, and a sprig of mint.

Gluten-free Valentine Cookie Delivery:
If baking is the key to your gluten-free Valentine's heart, yet you have no time to bake, try ordering some delicious gluten-free cookies from Beautiful Sweets, the cookies Al Rokker calls "the most beautiful cookies in the world."

Dine-out:
Dining out at a romantic restaurant is a time-honored way to put a smile on your Valentine's face. You'll get extra points if you can pull off a romantic Valentine restaurant dinner for your gluten-free loved one.

Remember, certain types of cuisine are more naturally gluten-free than others. Generally speaking, Asian, Mexican, Central- and South American cuisines are a good bet. However, with a bit of scouting, even Italian can deliver a great gluten-free Valentine's dinner.

Many full-service Italian restaurant feature secondi piatti, such as roasted meats, seafoods, and risottos, Many of these are gluten-free, or can be prepared without flour.

Whatever cuisine you choose, be sure to call ahead to the restaurant, and to ask about any menu item, or method of preparation if you are not sure about the gluten status.

So, the key to a great gluten-free Valentine's Day is a bit of planning, some double-checking, and dash of pure romance.

With those things in your favor, your'e sure to deliver a great gluten-free Valentine's Day!

As always, Celiac.com welcomes your comments (see below).