Critics' pick- Valentine's day edition

Photograph: Shani Bar-on

Feed the love Like a bouquet of cut-rate roses, mass-produced Valentine’s Day chocolates are never as alluring as they’re intended to be. Fortunately for relationships—and taste buds—there’s Kumquat Cupcakery, a homegrown operation run by Keavy MacPherson Landreth, a recent art school grad who bakes the signature miniature cupcakes in her tiny Williamsburg kitchen. In an inspired move, Landreth is offering a fresh alternative: a collection of “box of chocolate” cupcakes especially for Valentine’s Day, whose six flavors, such as chocolate-covered strawberry and caramel-chocolate, are inspired by the fillings in bonbons. The truffle-sized confections are as delicious as they are beautiful, and unlike some dry and too-sugary cupcakes we know, Landreth’s sophisticated bites are moist and robustly flavored. The 25-year-old minimalist has already acquired a fan base with her emphasis on unusual, seasonal flavors; she keeps busy with custom orders and by selling her baked goods at Williamsburg’s Artists and Fleas Market and the nearby Blackbird Parlour. Both lovers and cupcake lovers can put in their orders online for a Valentine’s Day delivery at least two days in advance, and then sit back and let the chumps stand in line for candy. $36 for a box of 24; $52 for a box of 36; available through, or kumquatcupcakery@gmail.comRebecca Flint Marx

Lollipop the question When choosing a Valentine’s Day gift for your newly discovered significant other, jewelry might seem a tad permanent, and edible underwear too, er, ephemeral. But the candy rings at cult confectionery Papabubble (380 Broome St between Mott and Mulberry Sts; 212-966-2599, should solve the hoary necklace-or-bonbon dilemma. Pulled, cut and rolled into a panoply of fanciful Technicolor designs—some topped with glossy rosettes or funky, striped wedges—the edible accessories are freshly spun from a host of lollipop flavors, including honeyed mango and spicy cinnamon, according to the whims of the shop’s dessert chefs. The goodie will stay fresh for several months, on the condition that your beloved can resist its sweet allure: We immediately devoured our passion fruit–cherry-and-watermelon bauble whose grown-up, intense flavors trumped a Ring Pop’s. And though they’re a bit pricey, the sugary bands are ideal for commitmentphobes, providing an hour of sticky-fingered gratification. Available for $20 at Papabubble; $55 for rings with gold leaf. Preordering for V-Day recommended. —Helen Yun

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