Local sweets for your sweetie: Order now for V-Day

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Red is the color of passion, so it seems fitting that two up-and-coming “red” bakeries are selling romantic treats for Valentine’s Day. Red Queen Tarts and the Little Red Hen Bakeshop have both come up with special holiday goodies to give to your sweetheart.

Aside from the colorful imagery of their names, the companies have other things in common, too. Both are run by women who have tapped into Atlanta’s growing farmers market scene to develop a customer base. Both incorporate local and organic ingredients when possible. Both sell upscale versions of desserts from your childhood. And both, coincidentally enough, reference “Alice in Wonderland” in their products.

The Queen of Hearts, she made some tarts. And then Candice Reynolds sold them. Reynolds, whose double-crusted Red Queen Tarts bare a passing resemblance to a certain toaster pastry, has created a new filling just in time for Valentine’s Day: brandied sour cherry with dark chocolate ganache. Other filling options include cranberry, cinnamon apple, lemon blueberry, roasted pumpkin, port poached pear, hazelnut chocolate, Ruby Red (grapefruit) Marmalade and prosecco, fig and brie.

Reynolds buys local when she can—apples and pumpkins from Ellijay, “freakin’ stellar” whole wheat flour from Anson Mills in Columbia, S.C.—and organic when she can’t: The cranberries are sourced by Forest Park-based Destiny Organics. All tarts are brushed with cream and sprinkled with raw sugar before baking. “You get the buttery-flaky from the crust, and you get the crunchy from the raw sugar,” she explains. “And the combination just knocks them out of the park.”

Reynolds will accept orders through noon Sunday for delivery throughout metro Atlanta on Monday (she also ships around the country). The minimum order is a box of six tarts for $24, plus a $10 delivery fee. Find her on Facebook or send an e-mail to redqueentarts@gmail for more information.

At the Decatur Farmers Market this Saturday, Little Red Hen Bakeshop will be selling gift boxes of sweets as well as cute “Chocolate Fauxstess Cupcakes” embellished with the phrase that enticed Alice: “Eat me.”

Owner Maria Moore Riggs cites a trio of influences for the naughty-but-nice message: Alice’s trip down the rabbit hole, a photo in a Martha Stewart magazine, and those icky sweetheart candies found in drugstores this time of year. “I think they’re disgusting, but I think they’re hilarious,” she says. The cupcakes, covered in a glossy dark chocolate ganache, are a serious step up.

For Valentine’s Day, pick up a box of cupcakes or an assortment box of Little Red Hen’s most popular sweets: shortbread heart cookies (chocolate and orange/cardamom), honey caramels and Caramel Chocolate Dream Bars. The assortment boxes are $12; cupcakes are $2 each. To guarantee availability, order and pay in advance by calling 404-376-3410.

Moore Riggs, who also co-owns Café Campesino Atlanta at the Sweet Auburn Market, avoids corn syrup and uses local and organic ingredients when she can, including Hidden Springs honey and Johnston Dairy Farm cream.

Here’s another gift option: Make your own caramels. Moore Riggs will show you how at Oakhurst Community Garden on Saturday afternoon. Class is $20 for garden members, $25 for nonmembers; advance registration required.

Still looking for your valentine? Check out Fresh Meet, a Slow Food Atlanta singles mixer 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. this Saturday at Café Campesino in Sweet Auburn Curb Market, 209 Edgewood Ave. S.E. Admission is $5 to $10.

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