Madrid: Bombons are still the kings of Valentine's Day in Spain, but cupcakes and cake pops are making inroads among lovers, giving the holiday more of an Anglo-American flavour.

Jelly beans, French macaroons and red velvet cakes are also popular this year among those looking for gifts for their sweethearts. Confectionery makers and bakers are trying to give a new twist to Valentine's Day, which has been the domain of bombons and heart-shaped cakes.

The new offerings include small, affordable and flashy candies that allow the romantic to treat their sweethearts to something tasty without breaking the bank.

Isabel Maestre, a Madrid caterer who won the 1997 National Gastronomy Prize, is offering a special series of cupcakes for Valentine's Day. The "cupcakes for two" special features apples as the main ingredient, Maestre said.

The most important element, independent of flavour, is  appearance, and "cupcakes are very showy", producing an immediate reaction of joy among recipients, Maestre said. The buzz about cupcakes is coinciding with greater demand for small goodies that are less costly in tough economic times than the typical cake.

This has opened the way for cake pops, basically a bombon on a stick, among those looking for a different Valentine's Day treat.


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