I like the idea of a celebration and have nothing against anyone who celebrates Valentine’s Day, but I find it difficult to come to terms with celebrations being less about the spirit of celebrating and more about how much is spent on it. Still, I thought it would be nice and a bit of fun to give in gracefully to the spirit of celebrating and enjoy the moment in my own way with some shortbread cookies. Cookies for Valentine’s Day? Well, why not? Today is just like any other day, cookies are nice with tea/ coffee, I had a little time to spare and shortbread cookies are easy enough to make. My husband has a sweet tooth and our daughter is a fan of all things shortbread. Add a hint of chocolate and a tinge of red, and my cookies are good to grace a celebration. To be honest though, I was just looking for an excuse to make some cookies, inaugurate some cookie cutters afriend gave me and try out something different!
I got the idea of shortbread hearts from this month’s BBC Good Food magazine (the Indian edition). The magazine had featured shortbread hearts with cherries. Cherries haven’t yet put in an appearance here and we don’t particularly like glace cherries but strawberries are aplenty right now, so I’ve got a lot of freshly made strawberry preserves . I also have a small cache of dried and candied strawberries carefully stashed away and this seemed a good time to bring them out. I have adapted the recipe a bit and my version follows.
Strawberry & Chocolate Shortbread Sandwich Cookies
(Adapted from BBC Good Food Magazine, February 2012))
1/2 cup icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
1 3/4 to 2 cups all-purpose flour, and extra for dusting
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup ground almonds
200 gm butter, soft at room temperature
1/4 cup dried and candied strawberries, finely chopped
1/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Melted chocolate to drizzle (optional)
Sift together the icing sugar, 1 3/4 cups of flour, salt and cornstarch together into a bowl. Stir in the ground almonds, the chopped strawberries and the chocolate chips. Add the soft butter and the vanilla and rub into the flour, then rub in the butter until it all comes together as a dough. If the dough feels sticky add a little more flour (not too much) until the dough is soft but no longer sticky. Do not over work the dough.
Shape the dough into a ball and flatten out into a disc. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for about 20 to 30 minutes. Divide the dough into two and work with one portion and keep the other refrigerated.
Roll out the portion on a lightly floured surface till about 1/8" thick, dusting lightly with flour if necessary, and stamp out cookies using round or heart shaped cutters. Cut out the centres of about half these cookies with a smaller round or shaped cutter. Repeat with the second portion of dough.
Keep re-rolling the trimmings until all the dough is used. Carefully transfer the cookies to ungreased or parchment lined baking trays lined with parchment. It is a good idea to have all the cookies with centres cut out together on a tray.
Bake at 170C (340F) 12 to 14 minutes till the cookies are just pale golden. Let them cool on the trays for about 10 minutes. Then cool the cookies completely on racks.
Dust the cookies without centres with icing sugar, or drizzle them with some melted chocolate. Place a little bit of strawberry jam (or chocolate ganache if you prefer) on the whole cookies and lightly sandwich with one of the cookies dusted with icing sugar/ drizzled with chocolate.
This recipe makes about 40 (2 1/2”) cookies and 20 sandwich cookies.