I know, I know, 2 heart shaped cookies in one week?!! What is she thinking? How about a little variety?! But with Valentine's Day rapidly approaching I decided to throw caution to the wind and devote a day to these romantic beauties! Though heart-shaped, they are so entirely different from the Valentine's Day Linzer Hearts that I posted about a couple of days ago and so utterly delicious and so easy to make that I felt confident that I could take the risk! After all, can't we all use a little more love in our lives?!! Try these and you will love them (and maybe even me a little bit too!)
Who can resist the buttery, melt-in-your-mouth simplicity of shortbread? They are such a basic feel-good comforting cookie! Really there are only 5 ingredients at play here--butter, sugar, vanilla, flour and salt and they come together in a snap. Once the dough is made you form it into a large disk and then chill it for 1/2 an hour so that it's easier to roll out.
Then it's just a matter of cutting out heart shaped cookies, sprinkling them with a bit of sugar and baking them. And the dough is very non-sticky and easy to work with--no "broken" hearts here!
Once the cookies are baked, you can leave them as is, (they're delicious dunked in a cup of tea!) or melt some chocolate and dip the cookies for a really decadent experience!
Once the chocolate hardens, these become the perfect balance between crunchy buttery simplicity and rich chocolate sweetness! If you present someone with these on Valentine's Day, there will be no doubting your feelings for them at all!
Makes about 2 dozen hearts
Prep Time: 10 minutes (plus 30 minutes chilling time); Rolling Out Time: 15-20 minutes; Bake Time: 20-25 minutes; Plus allow extra time for chocolate to harden if you are dipping cookies.
- 3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling on cookies
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 7-10 oz. good chocolate, coarsely chopped, to melt for dipping (I used Lindt bittersweet bars)
1. Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and 1 cup of the sugar until just combined. Add the vanilla and mix to combine.
2. Sift the flour and salt into a medium bowl and add it to the butter mixture on low speed, until the dough begins to come together.
3. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface or board and flatten into a large disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
5. On the same floured surface or board, roll the dough out with a rolling pin until it's about 1/2 thick. Using a 3-inch heart shaped cookie cutter, cut out as many cookies as possible and transfer them to the baking sheets. Gather together the scraps of dough, re-roll them out and continue to cut out more cookies until the dough is all used up. Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with a bit of sugar and place the trays in the freezer for about 10 minutes to help them keep their shape as they cook.
6. Remove from freezer and bake the trays one at a time in the center of the oven for about 20 minutes, until the edges of the cookies begin to darken. (check early though-if any of your cookies are thinner than others, they will start to burn before others are done. If any cookies are getting too dark, just remove them from the tray and return the rest to finish baking.)
7. Let cool to room temperature on cookie sheets on rack. Serve as is or proceed to next step.
8. In the top of a double boiler over simmering water, melt chocolate, stirring, and scrape it into a small but deepish bowl. Lay a large sheet of wax paper on the counter. Dip half of heart into the melted chocolate, allowing it drain over the bowl and then quickly placing it on the wax paper to harden. Do not move cookies until chocolate has completely dried or they will smear. When completely hardened, peel cookies off wax paper or store airtight between layers of wax paper.
9. Cookies last for 3-4 days, stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
Note: Recipe adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten. I didn't change anything, but I did add the addition of the chocolate dipping.