Happy belated Valentine’s Day my foodie darlings! I have quite an impressive backlog of long-overdue posts, but I’ll start with my most recent adventure: vday projects. As I’ve said before, I’m not in love with Valentine’s day..but a homemade thing or two from the heart is never a bad thing. The great thing about these recipes is that you can make them any shape you want, so I thought, why not make them heart-shaped for my Valentine?
On Sunday evening I baked some French Laundry-inspired cookies, and in honor of the occasion I made them heart-shaped. They sat in the fridge for just under 48 hours (inside a sealed tub and wrapped tightly in clingfilm, of course!) and I must say that they “aged” very well, because they tasted better to me two days later than they did fresh out of the oven…the flavors had time to really blend together I guess. And while they probably don’t hold a candle to Thomas Keller’s version, I’m not going to lie, these were pretty damn good…buttery, flaky, light and just the right amount of sweet. You may have to wait another year to make heart-shaped ones, but no reason not to make them in all sorts of other shapes until then!
On the morning of Valentine’s Day I also made heart-shaped pancakes (recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart – I blogged about it here), served with a side of fresh strawberries, a nice cup of tea, and -of course- some good old maple syrup.. YUM!
For the shortbread, you will need:
- 225 grams (8 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 78 grams (2 3/4 ounces) confectioner’s sugar
- 3/4 cup (6 ounces) unsalted butter – MUST be at room temperature; I left mine out on the counter overnight
- 1 vanilla pod
- Coarse salt, for sprinkling,
- Course granulated sugar and butter for dipping cookies
Preheat oven to 175C/350F. Sift sugar and flour twice into a large bowl. With a sharp knife, score vanilla pod in half lengthwise, and scrape out beans with the back of your knife. Add vanilla to sugar and flour mixture. Cut butter into small (1 inch) cubes and scatter over flour. With your fingertips, gently combine flour and butter by massaging flour into knobs of butter. The mixture will NOT form a cohesive dough, so don’t force it to because you don’t want to overwork it. Once incorporated, your “batter” should look like small beads. Place onto a piece of clingfilm, form a loose ball, wrap and chill in the fridge for 30-60 minutes.
Once chilled, GENTLY roll out dough into 1/2 – 3/4 inch thickness, and cut to shape of choice. Lay cookies on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and sprinkle with a teeny amount of course salt. Bake for 15 minutes, then rotate baking sheet and bake for 8-10 more minutes. If you prefer pale cookies, take out after initial 15 minutes. Place cookies on a cooling rack. Once cooled, lightly brush the surface with melted butter, and dip face-down into a bowl of granulated sugar. Return to cooling rack until set.
For the pancakes, you will need:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp melted unsalted butter, plus more for brushing pan
Preheat your skillet on the hob; it is hot enough when water sprinkled on the surface splatters and pops. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Add the egg, milk, vanilla and melted butter and whisk until smooth. Lightly brush surface of skillet with butter. Place batter into a piping bag and pipe heart-shapes (or any other shape!) onto the skillet. Cook on one side for about 2 minutes, or until the pancake cleanly comes off the pan. Flip over and cook for 1 more minute. Wipe surface of pan with a paper towel and brush with fresh butter between each pancake. Serve with maple syrup and fresh fruit.
What did you all do this Valentine’s Day?
In good health,
*Top image courtesy of designsponge.com, Martha Stewart pancakes image courtesy of marthastewart.com. All other images are my own.