Friday, February 12, 2010

Oatmeal Cookie Hearts and other things to love

My cousins Laura and val are some of the best cooks I know. I've never had a thing from them that wasn't delicious. Seriously.

For our wedding, Laura and val gave us two cookbooks: Sara Foster's Fresh Every Day, which by now you know I adore, and Wish You Were Here, their own little cookbook. Wish You Were Here is a homemade cookbook that they bound themselves, full of their family's favorite recipes. I love it.

One of the recipes is for Oatmeal Cookie Hearts, a recipe from Laura's mother. Here's what Laura says about them: "These irresistable butter-laden cookie 'cakes' have become legendary in our house around Valentine's Day. The recipe was my mother's, though no one but me remembers her making them. Making the cookie sandwiches is labor intensive, but I see it as a labor of love-- a Valentine to my sweethearts"

This recipe is definitely a labor of love, but it's so worth it. I've made these two years in a row now, with plans to continue this tradition. Here's the recipe:

Cookie Dough:
1 c. butter (softened)
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. almond extract
2 1/2 c. flour
3/4 t. salt
1/2 t. baking powder
2 c. oats

3/4 c. butter (softened)
4 c. powdered sugar
1 unbeaten egg white
1 t. vanilla
1- 1 1/2 c. coconut
red or pink food coloring

To make dough, cream butter and sugar together on high speed in an electric mixer. Reduce speed to medium and add egg and extracts. Sift together flour, salt and baking powder and combine. Add oats and mix thoroughly. Chill dough (2 hours or more).*

*Sarah's notes: I don't sift. I'm too lazy. I chilled mine overnight this year and it worked just fine.

Divide dough into manageable amounts and roll out on floured surface until dough is about 1/8" thick. Use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut out cookies. Place cut cookies on a greased baking sheet. Continue rolling and re-rolling until all the dough has been cut into cookies. Bake at 350 12-13 minutes. Cool cookies on wire rack.*

*Sarah's notes: I needed a lot of flour for my surface. Maybe the dough was too cold, but I found it very sticky. I used two different sizes of heart-shaped cutters. They are cute.

To make the icing, cream butter and slowly add sifted powdered sugar. Combine until creamy. Add egg white and extract; mix thoroughly. Add small amounts of food coloring to icing and mix until desired color intensity is reached. Finally, blend in coconut.*

*Sarah's notes: Again, no sifting. I added a little milk to make the mixing go easier. Since not everyone I was giving cookies to likes coconut, I iced some cookies without the coconut before mixing it in.

Now you are ready to assemble the cookie "cakes". Each "cake" requires two cookies layered together with icing. Once you have a cookie/icing "sandwich", you will ice the top and sides just as if it were a small cake. This will take some practice but will get easier after the first few. Place iced cookies on a wire rack to "dry" a bit. These cookies have the unique quality of tasting better as they age. Nevertheless, you'll want to store them in a sealed container...if they last that long!*

*Sarah's notes: The icing of the cakes isn't too hard, but as you can see, I don't go for perfection. Here's a large cookie cake without coconut in the icing:

You can see the smaller ones with the coconut icing in the background-- that icing is lumpier. I didn't take a picture of the large heart cake with coconut, but here are some smaller ones. I made some small cakes and just topped the rest with icing:

I gave these, along with small candy-filled boxes and peppermint brownies, to my coworkers and Edwin's coworkers. Here are the peppermint brownies:

To make them, just make any brownie recipe you like. Bake for 5 minutes less than the required time. Remove from oven and cover surface with broken peppermint patties. Bake for the remaining 5 minutes. Spread the melted peppermint with a spatula as soon as you remove from the oven. Allow to cool; slice.

And I have to share this last thing with you. My friend and coworker Wanda gave us goodie bags, with these in them:

Yes, that is a box of conversation hearts turned into an i-pod.

She covered them with paper, typed out a playlist for the menu, and attached peppermint patties as earbuds.
SO cute!

Enjoy your Valentine's Day. Make someone you love a treat. Or share a treat with someone you love. Or get a Steak Junior from Char-Grill in Raleigh, a box of red wine, and a DVD of Grey's Anatomy and go to town. Each of these ideas is a Fancy-Gransee tried and true method to enjoying Valentine's day.

I hope you like it. I made it.