It's only natural to want to mark Valentine's Day by doing something special for your sweetheart. The default options are flowers and chocolate, but those aren't especially personal as a rule (unless you're really good at doing your own arrangements). There's definitely a much higher level of personal commitment involved in baking batches of sweet treats for your loved one, especially if you're not ordinarily known for your baking prowess. We can't do anything about your skill level, but we've done the next best thing by picking out a dozen of the best baking tools and supplies for your Valentine's Day sweets.
The most fundamental piece of equipment for Valentine's Day baking is heart-shaped cutters, and Ateco has you covered for those. Ateco isn't a household name among amateur bakers, the way Wilton is, but they're a mainstay of the commercial baking world. This set of six durable stainless steel cutters will give you a raft of options for heart-shaped cookies, or you can use them for cutting fondant, pie crust or anything else that occurs to you. They come in a compact tin with a tight-fitting lid for storage, so they won't get lost or damaged between uses.
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Hearts are a good starting point, but they're not the only Valentine's Day-themed shape. If you're looking for more, consider this fun and whimsical set from Ann Clark, the country's leading maker of cookie cutters. In addition to a plain and scalloped heart, you'll also get a cutter for conjoined hearts, a set of lips, and a strawberry (because what goes better with a chocolate-dipped strawberry than a cookie made to look like one?). The company has over 4,000 designs to choose from, so you can round out your collection by picking up extras on an à la carte basis.
3. Ateco Fondant and Dough Plunger Cutter & Embosser
Before we move on from cutters, there's one more type you should look at. Plunger cutters, as the name suggests, don't rely on the cookie to simply shake out of the cutter. They have a small spring-loaded plunger to actually push the cookie out, making it more useful for sticky doughs (or for other decorative elements like fondant). Many plunger cutters—like this heart-shaped one from Ateco—feature a textured stamp, so they'll also emboss a design into the dough you're cutting. You can treat the embossed lines as a guide for decorating with icing, or simply leave them to stand alone as a decorative element in their own right. Either way, it's a nice added detail for zero extra effort on your part.
Fondant is a bit difficult to explain. You could think of it as a sugary dough for decorating, or as "icing you roll." It's the stuff that gives many wedding cakes their smooth, seamless finish, but—more importantly for our purposes—it's also excellent for creating decorations to go on your creations. On a heart-shaped cookie, for example, you might use a smaller cutter to create a heart-shaped decoration to place on top. Bakerpan is a leading maker of fondant and other decorating supplies, and this 4.4-ounce size is perfect for small batches of decorative garnishes. It's available in a total of nine colors (white, red, black, brown, orange, pink, yellow, green and blue), for maximum versatility, and you can also buy it in 2-pound or 5-pound quantities for bigger projects.
5. OXO Good Grips Silicone Pastry Mat
Between the cookie dough and the fondant you may have a lot of rolling-out in your immediate future, so why not make it easier for yourself? This oversized silicone pastry mat from OXO lets you use a lot less flour when you're rolling and cutting cookies (or less powdered sugar when rolling fondant), which keeps your dough and cookies from toughening. The dough will roll neatly on its nonstick surface, and cut cookies will lift off easily. It's also marked with measurements, so if the recipe says to "roll out to a 16-inch circle" you can do that with confidence. The border is a rule, for added measuring ability, and the mat itself is printed with unit conversions and recipe substitutions. You can even bake on it in a pinch, though it's probably too large to fit any of your pans.
6. FiveTwo Adjustable Rolling Pin With Measuring Rings
On a related note, are you still using that beat-up old rolling pin your mom gave you when you moved out? Or maybe you're rolling your dough with that leftover wine bottle from last night? This is a good time to upgrade, and this adjustable rolling pin from Food52 is decidedly an upgrade to most. The key feature here is that it comes with a set of silicone rings to fit over the ends of the rolling pin, helping you roll your cookie dough (or fondant, or whatever) to exactly the correct thickness, consistently, with zero effort. If the recipe says to roll your dough to 1/4-inch thickness, for example, you'd just slide the 1/4-inch rings on either end of the pin and start rolling. The silicone rings are dishwasher-safe, the pin itself wipes clean with a damp cloth, and the rings have a drawstring storage bag to keep them from getting lost between uses. It's a great product and was one of the top picks in our recent roundup of the best rolling pins.
7. Valentine's Day Silicone Candy Mold Set, 8-Count
Rolling and cutting aren't the only ways to get Valentine's shapes. Another option is pressing your dough or fondant, or pouring your chocolate, into molds. Professional chocolatiers prefer rigid molds made of polycarbonate, but for at-home use, silicone molds like these are more widely available and more versatile. This set of eight includes multiple heart and lip shapes, semicircles (you put two together if you want spheres), miniature roses and even the word "LOVE." They're fridge-, freezer-, oven-, dishwasher- and microwave-safe, so whatever you choose to make in them—and however you choose to make it—they're up to the task. You can even use them with polymer clay to make non-edible crafts and gifts.
8. Wilton "Decorator Preferred" Heart-Shaped Cake Pan, 8-in.
If you're more comfortable with cake baking than cookies, then Valentine's Day calls for a heart-shaped cake pan like this one from Wilton. It's a standard 8-inch pan (use two for a boxed mix) of plain, matte-finish aluminum, exactly the kind of pan favored by professional bakers and cake decorators. There are others out there with nonstick coatings, if you absolutely have to have one, but most cakes bake best in plain aluminum. That being said, if you're itching to make a heart-shaped cheesecake or delicate sponge cake, you might be better served by heart pans with lift-out bottoms or a heart-shaped springform instead.
9. Manvscakes Valentine's Day Sprinkles, 8-oz.
Sprinkles are a pretty niche item but specialty supplier Man vs. Cakes has them very well covered indeed, from the standard jimmies and quins to hearts, stars, crowns and hard-candy spheres in a range of shades and finishes. There are several Valentine's Day-themed sets in the company's lineup, but we like this one (a lot!) for its mixture of matte, metallic and pearlescent coatings. The sprinkles come in shades of pink, red, purple and white for a festive touch. Whether you're planning cakes, cookies, cupcakes or chocolates, this set will help you make them all look striking.
10. Chef Craft Patterned Paper Cupcake Liners, 50-Count
Cupcakes are unique among homemade Valentine's Day treats because they come already "dressed" in their cupcake liner. So why settle for plain liners, when you could have heart-adorned ones like this set from Chef Craft? They're the perfect complement to your cupcakes' other decorations, whether that's an elaborately-piped mound of icing or a simple glaze and handful of sprinkles.
11. Gyufise Valentine Cupcake Toppers, Red and Gold Glitter, 24-Count
There's no rule that says you have to do everything by hand when you're creating your Valentine's treats. A set of pre-made cupcake toppers, like this set from Gyufise, can add a festive note to your cupcakes (or individual slices of cake or cheesecake), even if your own cake-decorating skills are limited. They'll work well as the finishing touch on a cupcake that's already beautifully decorated, or you can use a topper and a handful of sprinkles to conceal a less-than-stellar icing job. Either way, you're the winner.
12. Wilton Disposable 12-Inch Pastry Bags With Tips
Putting on icing is one of the most important steps in giving your sweet Valentine's Day treats their best possible appearance. You can spread icing with a butter knife if there's nothing else around, but for the most eye-catching results, you'll need a piping bag and tips. That's the Wilton company's mainstay, and unsurprisingly, they've got a great little kit with everything you need to get started. This bundle includes 100 disposable pastry bags (plenty for a whole year's special occasions, with some leftover for practice) and a dozen of the most-used piping tips. Using the bag and tips is easier than you might think. If you've never done it, there are lots of videos out there to guide you as you get started, so whip up a batch of icing, and give it a whirl!