Well, it’s me again. Dingbat’s mama (the other Martha) writing about one of my favorite recipes. With February approaching I thought we’d kick off our Monday with a Valentine’s cookie. My favorite for the past few years (well, maybe five or six) is a chocolate shortbread cut into a 2-inch heart. It has a very rich taste, so two hearts brought together with pink strawberry frosting or chocolate ganache in the center is better in a smaller amount. This is a great do ahead recipe – the dough seems to meld into its true persona if left for a day or two in the fridge before baking. It can also be frozen, which is good to know ahead of time, especially on a day like today when it’s snowing so much outside that one naturally thinks of baking while listening to great music.

The idea of celebrating Valentine’s Day by baking something wonderful for those you love, is an idea that is as old as the celebration itself and sometimes it isn’t worth reinventing the wheel when professing love. Thus, a return to baking a favorite creates a two-fold pleasure: the ease of the tried and true, and a gentle nudge to memories past.

C H O C O L A T E shortbread heart cookies
by Martha Moench

2 Sticks (1/2 lb.) unsalted butter
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon hazelnut extract (or vanilla or almond)
2/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1/4 cup almond flour (a regular staple in Adrienne’s GF kitchen)
1 teaspoon salt 

In a standard kitchen mixer cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add in hazelnut extract (or vanilla or almond).

In another small bowl sift together your favorite cocoa powder
(I LOVE the Dutch Process cocoa), white flour, almond flour and salt
Slowly beat in flour to butter mixture. 

Dough will be a lovely rich, dark color and SOFT. Divide the dough in half and shape into disks about 1″ thick. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Remove dough from fridge and working one disk at a time, roll out on a lightly floured surface to about 1/8″ thick. Stamp out cookies and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for about 13-15 minutes or until firm. Let cool on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes and then transfer to a metal cooling sheet until fully cooled. Continue to roll and cut out batches (cooling the scraps between batches) until you are all finished!

When cooled, frost with a strawberry glaze or chocolate ganache and serve with coffee or hot cocoa. 

 The mere suggestion of chocolate, which increases the amount of serotonin in the body and is full of anti-oxidants, begins the feel good process. Add to that Amy Winehouse on the stereo singing “Our day will come and we’ll have everything…. We’ll share the joy…falling in love can bring…”with its subtle reggae beat, and you’ve arrived.

The other Martha is my mom, she is not only my biggest cheerleader (with my Dad of course) but she is the one that lovingly passed on the creative gene along with all its OCD traits. Join us Mondays for a delicious kickstart to your week as we share our favorite recipes from home.