Recipe: Chocolate Valentine's Day cookies
A friend was visiting from San Francisco. It was Valentine's Day weekend, and she had just found out her sweetheart was sweet on someone else. So we decided to bake our way through the romantic holiday and eat every last crumb. What better way to begin than with a dark-chocolate shortbread cookie heart made with his favourite nuts? We dipped each cookie in really good deep, dark chocolate before devouring the hearts, but they are also delicious plain and simple.
Does your heart drop every time you try to roll out cookie dough? Mine did until I discovered the old-fashioned pastry cloth and rolling-pin cover. To my mind, these are among the most valuable tools in a baker's kitchen. Now, rolled-out cookies or pie crusts are a breeze, and they never stick.
Almond meal, or finely ground almonds, is available at Trader Joe's and natural-foods stores or supermarket aisles. These dipped cookies are best enjoyed within 3 days and should be stored at room temperature. (Since the dipping chocolate is not tempered, the coating will have a smooth, non-glossy surface. After several days, it will begin to mottle.)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup premium unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup almond meal
- 1 tablespoon premium unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
- Large pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- Scant 1/4 teaspoon pure almond or vanilla extract
- 3 ounces premium dark chocolate, chopped
- 1 teaspoon vegetable shortening
1 In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, almond meal, unsweetened and Dutch-process cocoas, and salt until well blended. Set aside.
2 In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer set on medium speed, beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugar and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the almond extract until well blended, again scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary. On low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients and beat until just blended, again scraping down the bowl as necessary.
3 Lay a sheet of plastic wrap on the counter and scrape the crumbly dough onto one half of the wrap. Fold the wrap over the dough and knead 3 or 4 times. Flatten the dough into a disk in the plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
4 Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or leave it ungreased. Remove the dough disk from the refrigerator, unwrap it, and cut it in half. Return one portion to the refrigerator while rolling out the other.
5 On a pastry cloth or a lightly floured board with a cloth-covered rolling pin or between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap, roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Using a 2-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut a cookie, pressing the cutter straight down into the dough. Repeat, cutting the cookies closely together to avoid rerolling. Using a spatula, carefully transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Bake for 12 minutes, then rotate the cookie sheet and bake until firm to the touch, about 12 minutes longer.
6 Pull the parchment paper with the cookies onto the counter and let the cookies firm and cool slightly before transferring from the parchment to a wire rack to cool completely. (If not using parchment, let the cookies firm and cool slightly on the baking sheet before transferring.) Undipped cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks or frozen for up to 2 months.
1 Place the chocolate and shortening in a small, deep heatproof bowl and set in a wide pan or skillet of hot water. Set aside for 5 minutes, stirring 4 or 5 times, and let the chocolate melt completely. Stir until smooth.
2 Meanwhile, place 2 wire racks on a sheet of parchment or waxed paper to catch any chocolate drips. Dip half of each cookie into the chocolate and allow the extra chocolate to drip back into the bowl. Place the cookies on the racks to set. For a fast set, after 10 minutes, you can slip the wire rack into the refrigerator to chill for no longer than 5 minutes.
Makes 24 cookies.
BUY THIS BOOK
From Deep Dark Chocolate: Decadent Recipes for the Serious Chocolate Lover. Published by Chronicle Books. Copyright © 2008 by Sara Perry. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of Chronicle Books.