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Valentine’s Day Shortbread Hearts

Valentine's Day Shortbread / Especially Edible

Oh, Valentine’s Day. I had such good intentions. I even broke out the heart-shaped cookie cutters, which – if you know anything about my relationship to dough that requires chilling or rolling out – says something right there. But then I stumbled across the obituary of the Nutella scion in the Times, and – squirrel! – I got distracted. But I posted that on the 13th, so I really have no excuse for not producing anything on Valentine’s Day itself, except to say that I am a procrastinator. And that the degeneration of what was meant to be my first semi-original recipe, miniature red velvet cakes with cream cheese filling and chocolate ganache icing, from scarlet hearts into brown lumps didn’t help my motivation any.

Valentine's Day Shortbread Cookies / Especially Edible

The only really original bit, for what it’s worth, was putting the cream cheese on the inside rather than on the outside, and planning to drizzle a cream cheese glaze on top of the ganache. I should have trusted my instincts on choosing a recipe for the filling, which turned out far too thin to hold up between the layers  of cake, and I scrapped the drizzle altogether when I realized it would be too transparent to stand out against the ganache. I did succeed at slicing the heart-shaped cakes into two layers, however, something that I think was greatly helped by popping them in the fridge for a few hours after they cooled. And though the ganache had to be thinned out by some milk, it eventually covered the cakes so smoothly and glossily that it looked like I’d sent them through one of those industrial enrobing machines at the Hershey’s factory.

Red Velvet Cakes1 Red Velvet Cakes6 Red Velvet Cakes7 Red Velvet Cakes2

But enough bellyaching. A year ago, I wouldn’t have even been brave enough to attempt a multi-stage dessert, especially on the same day that I made a chicken-pasta casserole that turned out quite nicely, thank you, and looked gorgeous against the new black background fabric I found for $5.00 at Joann. (I would love to figure out how to blur the background in photos so that the food stands out without a plain backdrop, but I have a feeling that might be asking a lot of my iPhone camera….. Though I’ve seen other bloggers work wonders with it, so perhaps I shouldn’t be so quick to blame the technology instead of the user.)

Valentine's Day Shortbread / Especially Edible

But enough bellyaching. A year ago, I wouldn’t have even been brave enough to attempt a multi-stage dessert, especially on the same day that I made a chicken-pasta casserole that turned out quite nicely, thank you, and looked gorgeous against the new black background fabric I found for $5.00 at Joann. (I would love to figure out how to blur the background in photos so that the food stands out without a plain backdrop, but I have a feeling that might be asking a lot of my iPhone camera….. Though I’ve seen other bloggers work wonders with it, so perhaps I shouldn’t be so quick to blame the technology instead of the user.)

Valentine's Day Shortbread Cookies / Especially Edible Valentine's Day Shortbread Cookies / Especially Edible

What DID turn out on my Valentine’s Day? Not romance – I’ve sort of given up hope for that one. (Are you getting a self-pitying vibe? Usually, post-Feb-14th, I aim for a more archly sarcastic singleton tone.) Well, the aforementioned heart-shaped cookies were a hit at my volunteer gig. After splurging on the red gel food dye from Amazon that the blogosphere recommended as the best chance for getting my red velvet cake truly red, I dipped some yummy shortbread in some brightly tinted white chocolate and came up with a winner. Though something went briefly wrong with the melted white chocolate – I may have been better off with another ganache recipe or with those white blocks used in candy making, because it seized up when I stirred in the dye and only thinned out when I splashed in some milk – everything turned out well in the end.

Valetine's Day Shortbread Cookies / Especially Edible

Valentine's Day Shortbread Cookies / Especially Edible

Whew. Are you exhausted by all the nuts and bolts of my baking adventures yet? Thank goodness for the scroll bar – I imagine most of you are past the recipe at this point. Which, now that I’ve mentioned it, is right here.

Valentine’s Day Shortbread Hearts

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Yield: 20 cookies

Ingredients

2 cups flour

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

6 oz. white chocolate, chopped

Red gel food coloring

Instructions

In a large bowl, beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Add the sugar and beat until smooth again. Beat in vanilla, then fold in flour. Mix until just blended.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and flatten into a disk. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350.

Flour a baking mat or the counter. Roll out the dough until it is 1/4 inch thick. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake for 8-10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

After cookies have cooled, melt white chocolate in the microwave in thirty-second increments. Mix in a few squirts of gel food dye, adding more until the chocolate reaches the desired color. Stir until smooth, then dip the cookies into the chocolate. Place on a wire rack until the chocolate sets.

Recipe from Brunch Time Baker

http://www.especiallyedible.com/valentines-day-shortbread-hearts/