Have you seen the Saturday Night Live video about shopping for Valentine's Day at CVS? If you haven't, please do yourself a favor and go view it (
http://www.hulu.com/watch/591805). The "commercial" had me cracking up so much simply because it reminded me of too many past Valentine's Days. See, Valentine's Day does not have a great history of wonderful memories for me. Actually, they are laughable moments now, but not so much back then. My husband, who really is a sweet and romantic person, does not have a great track record with this particular day.
Before I met him in college, I always seemed to be solo for that special day. An owner of a lonely heart (said a child of the 80's). Being a teenager with fantasies of special gifts, flowers, and candy, I was always missing out, or so it seemed in the myopic view of my world. Every Valentine's Day at my high school, we could order carnations to be delivered to someone special. The delivery person would walk into the classroom and hand a person a flower with a note attached saying Happy Valentine's Day or some other nice sentiment. I'd sit by in my sad state and watch flower after flower being delivered with nothing for me (sniff, sniff). Some people would get whole bouquets by the time the day was done. Me...nothing.
Two hearts beat as one (I know I'm corny)
Well, jump to college where I met my husband. Such a sweetie on most days, but on Valentine's Day? Yeah...no. Full disclosure here: Valentine's Day is my husband's birthday. Okay, I get that. I really do, but surely he doesn't really mean it when he says he doesn't give gifts on his birthday. Do I give gifts on my birthday? No, but the storming of the Bastille is not exactly a gift-giving day in this country, right? My first Valentine's Day with Gary finally arrives. The moment of truth. Will he come through? He hands me a bag with something inside. What could it be? It felt soft when I reached in. Maybe some cute stuffed animal? We were in college and I wasn't expecting anything extravagant. Well, maybe I was, but I wasn't going to push it. I pull out this prized gift. And, it was...it was...earmuffs! Not just any earmuffs. Cookie Monster blue fuzzy earmuffs! I did not react well. The line in the CVS ad that said "You hurt me tonight" rang true to my ears and I laughed out loud when I heard it. Like the CVS ad, Gary had stopped on the way to my dorm room at a street vendor in New York and picked up the earmuffs. It was a cold winter, suddenly in more ways than one.
Since then, my Valentine's days have definitely picked up. First, I took the attitude of just forgetting about it. I'd focus on the other days during the year and told him not to get me anything. As women know (and men quickly learn) a woman never means don't get me anything. It means I shouldn't have to ask. But, I went with the flow and focused on him for his day. As the years went on, he started bringing me things. Some special chocolate covered cherries from Chocolate Chocolate in DC. Flowers. And, now he doesn't let the day go by without something truly thoughtful even when it is his birthday. And, with my own maturity, I've stopped focusing on the need to have something and to instead focus on the love that just continues to grow infinitely in scope with every year we pass through. Awww...
And, with this loving thought, what better way to celebrate the day of hearts than with heart-shaped cookies, chocolate heart cookies, more specifically.
Brownie Cookie Sandwich
These particular cookies were inspired by one of my favorite bloggers and cooks, Deb Perelman from Smitten Kitchen (
http://smittenkitchen.com/). Deb's cookbook,The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, is a wonderful and engaging cookbook full of recipes from her little kitchen in New York City. I enjoy the recipes just as much as her witty banter and gorgeous photos. For these cookies I was inspired by her recipe for Brownie Roll-Out Cookies
http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2008/04/brownie-roll-out-cookies/. They are hard enough to make the sandwich, but they are tender inside rather than crispy. I used a heart-shaped cookie cutter and spread a buttercream in between the layers to create this delicious sandwich. And, let me tell you, these sandwich cookies are the bees knees. Rich, chocolatey, sinful. Perfect for your special loves.
Couldn't help myself
For a print-friendly version of the recipe, go to:
Cookies (inspired by
3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup of unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
Flour, Cocoa, Salt, and Powder Mixture
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
Butter/Sugar Mixture, light and fluffy
In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until they are combined and look light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the vanilla.
Gradually add in your flour mixture, making sure to scrape down the sides and give the bottom a good stir before you finish mixing. Nothing like finding loose flour and cocoa at the bottom of the bowl when you take the dough out.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. I split my dough in half, froze one half, and used the other half the next day. If chilling for a long period like I did, you will need to let the dough sit out for 30 minutes to make it easier to roll but not too long that the dough is sticky.
Just had to show off my very large, and very cool silpat
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper. When the dough has been sufficiently chilled, roll it out either on a floured surface or a silpat mat. Spread a little flour on your rolling pin and roll the dough to about 1/8 inch.
Using a cookie cutter, cut the cookies into whatever shape you like and place on your baking sheet.
Bake for 10 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool completely before adding your frosting.
For the frosting, you will need:
2 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), softened
Whisk together two egg whites and your sugar in a metal mixing bowl or double boiler. If using the bowl, place it over a saucepan of simmering water. Once the sugar has dissolved, you will find the mixture to be similar to a sticky syrup in consistency. Pour the mixture into a mixing bowl being careful not to get any water in the new bowl. Any water will prevent the egg white mixture to whip up properly.
Frosting before butter is added
Using your whip attachment, whip the mixture at the highest speed. It will go from a light brown color to a bright white and should double in size. Add your vanilla and continue whipping. Add the stick of butter and keep whipping until the frosting is the consistency you're looking for. Be patient because it will take time to whip up a nice fluffy frosting.
After Butter has been added
Turning one cookie over and using an inverted spatula, plop a fair amount of frosting in the middle (about 1 Tablespoon, depending on the size of your cookie) and spread to the outer edges of the cookie. Place another cookie on top and lightly smush the two together. Perfection.