| Sweets |

With Conversation Hearts Out, How Else to Say "Be Mine"?

Can we go a whole year without Sweethearts? It looks like we'll have to, but we've got options.
Can we go a whole year without Sweethearts? It looks like we'll have to, but we've got options.
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Bad news, good news, bad news. Necco, the New England Confectionary Company, went bankrupt last year after more than 150 years of making sugary candies with witty sayings. Which means our annual fix for Sweethearts has come to a screeching halt.

Turns out the brand has been acquired by Spangler Candy Company — we know them as the makers of Dum-Dums lollipops — but they won't be able to get these conversation hearts out to market until 2020.

So when it's time to say something thoughtful, yet succinct, what's a beau or gal to do come Valentine's Day? Supplies can still be purchased through online resellers, but they'll be batches left over from last year, so you'll have to ignore the "best if sold by date" and completely give up on freshness. Is that really the message you want to deliver to your sweetie this year?

Another option is to put on an apron, channel your inner Martha Stewart, and make the hearts yourself. Online recipes vary from forming a pastillage out of gelatin and confectioner's sugar to corn syrup-based recipes. But before you go down that road, be sure to factor in all the other steps involved: purchasing tiny heart cut-outs, allowing for drying time, ordering food-safe pens, and then trying to write those teeny tiny messages legibly. If you can pull it off, then the object of your desire will certainly be yours.

Go big or stay home also works well. Embrace the new craze of making the biggest whatever, and figure out how to pull it off by binge-watching videos from My Virgin Kitchen. After all, if a single chocolate ball from Lindor is sublime, wouldn't a ginormous version be really and truly decadent?

You also can't go wrong with local bakeries — be they in-store or stand-alone. But how to make it personal? Our suggestion is to create a sweet arrangement with an artfully decorated cupcake in the center, surrounded by a fanned circle of iced cookies, and bordered by a ring of truffles. It will show that you went to three different vendors, proving you really and truly tried, and hedges your bets to ensure you've selected his/her fave dessert.

Or, time shift Valentine's Day and stop by Archway Gallery (2305 Dunlavy) from 6:30-7:30 p.m. on February 12. Tony Najjar, expert chocolatier and founder of Xocolla Chocolates, along with Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, will offer an hourlong pairing seminar that includes a guided chocolate and wine tasting. It's free, but space is limited so RSVP soon. Call 713-522-2409 or visit archwaygallery.com.

When all else fails, or you're all thumbs when it comes to the culinary arts, turn to the Houston Tidelanders Chorus to show your love. A smartly dressed a cappella barbershop quartet will show up, sing a couple of love songs, and present your dearest with a single rose and a personal message. But hurry, the clock is ticking and performance slots are limited. For more information, call 713-223-8433 or visit tidelanders.com.

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