I can bake. Heck, I can bake all day. It’s fun, it involves stoichiometry and chemistry, and there’s plenty of batter/dough taste-testing along the way.
But I cannot cook to save my life.
In fact, this post was originally destined to be a spaghetti dish. You’re probably, most likely, almost certainly thinking, How can one mess up spaghetti?
Just trust me. It can be done.
To serve, it’s better to ladle the sauce onto the spaghetti rather than stir everything together in a pot. Unfortunately, this detail became apparent too late to save the poor spaghetti. Not enough sauce + too much pasta = dry, flavorless spaghetti. Imagine eating glutinous rubber bands covered with specks of subliminal tomato. And this issue is only compounded by not having additional sauce on hand. Indeed, I nailed the formula for bad spaghetti.
I am a baker and I fully accept this. It’s as much a fact as the sky being blue and the grass being green (or brown, as I notice from a glance outside).
So after the pathetic spaghetti mishap, I leaped back into the familiar and comforting arms of baking. Oh, baking, how I missed you! You’re the macaroni to my cheese, the PB to my J, the shrimp to my grits.
Fortunately, baking treated me much more humanely than did cooking. See?
Cookies sporting adorable little Valentine’s hearts! Hold onto your frosting, pastry bags, and decorator tips because the little hearts are simply baked on. I love how the heart sort of melts into the cookie and forms an artsy border.
Even if I had a sweetie with whom to celebrate Valentine’s Day, these cookies would be awfully difficult to share. Luckily, that’s not currently an issue.
There’s no tomato sauce. No noodles. No basil, oregano, or Parmesan cheese. Instead, there’s sugar, butter, flour, egg, vanilla, salt, leavener, and all that is good in this world.
Valentine Heart Cookies
- 1-1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 cup butter, softened (if unsalted, add 1/4 teaspoon salt)
- 2/3 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
- 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Red or pink gel paste food coloring
- Confectioners’ sugar
- In a medium bowl, stir together flour, cornstarch, and baking soda. Set aside.
- With an electric mixer, beat together butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg yolk and vanilla, beating just until incorporated. Manually stir in dry ingredients.
- Transfer roughly three-fourths of the dough into a separate bowl and place in refrigerator. To the remaining portion of dough, fold in desired amount of red or pink gel paste food coloring until no streaks remain. Knead in confectioners’ sugar with spatula or hands until dough reaches a rollable consistency (i.e. sticks to itself and not your hands). Refrigerate both doughs for one hour.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease or line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut out a small heart on a piece of paper, scaled to size of cookies.
- Roll plain dough into 1-inch balls between your palms. Place onto baking sheet. With a flat-bottomed glass, gently press down each dough ball until just over 1/2-inch thick.
- On a surface lightly dusted with confectioners’ sugar, roll out red or pink dough to just over 1/8-inch thick. Using paper heart cut-out to trace, cut out dough hearts with a sharp knife. Place dough heart atop cookie and press together using flat-bottomed glass until 1/4″ – 3/8″ thick. Repeat with remaining dough balls.
- Bake one sheet at a time for 10-14 minutes, depending on size (mine took 12). Be careful to not overbake; cookies should seem slightly underdone in middle. Allow cookies to rest on baking sheet several minutes after being removed from oven.