They were delicious! We kept it simple and made just two recipes: Shortbread Hearts and Cherry Cordial Cookies.
The Cherry Cordial Cookies recipe was from a Chocolatier magazine from years ago. I cut out the recipe and taped it into my recipe notebook. I should have written down the year but it was probably from the 80’s.
The Shortbread Hearts were made by slightly adapting our traditional Scottish Shortbread recipe. The recipe was handed down from relatives in Scotland for ages. The usual form is patted out into two rounds or pressed into a 9″ x 13″ pan and cut into squares. We always do the square thing just for simplicity.
Here is the original Shortbread Recipe, which takes just 4 ingredients.
1 lb butter (Note: We use 1 1/2 cups of unsalted butter and 1/2 cup of salted butter for best flavor)
1 1/4 cup fine sugar (Note: We use granulated sugar and process it in a food processor until it is less grainy. It should be half-way between granulated sugar and powdered sugar in texture when you pinch a little bit between your fingers.)
1 1/4 cup cornstarch (Note: Various Scottish relations argue over whether this should be rice flour or not. We stick with corn starch because we like the melt-in-your mouth texture of the baked shortbread.)
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour (Note: We always use unbleached King Arthur flour for best texture and flavor.)
~ Knead ingredients by hand. (…um… we use a mixer…faster and way less messy!)
~ Press into a 9″x13″ pan.
~ Prick dough all over with a fork.
~ Bake at 325 for 50 to 60 minutes. The edges will be light golden brown but the top will still be pale. We usually break open a tiny bit in the middle of the pan to test for doneness in the middle, since these are very thick squares.
~ Cut while warm into 1″ squares.
~ Store at room temp for a couple days. Refrigerate air tight for several weeks. May be frozen, wrapped air tight, for over a month. (We’ve found shortbread in the freezer six months later and it was perfectly fine. It just has to be wrapped well in plastic wrap and then in foil to avoid picking up any off-flavor from the freezer.)
To make the heart shaped shortbread cookies, we added about 1/4 cup extra flour to the recipe to make the dough a little stiffer. The Valentines Day Conversation Heart Cookie Cutters were from Williams Sonoma.
I didn’t take any photos when we made the Cherry Cordial Cookies but here is the recipe as printed in the magazine.
Cherry Cordial Cookies
1 pkg Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (NOTE: The recipe does not specify the size of bag. 1 cup of chips are used in the cookie dough and the “remaining cup chips” are used in the frosting.)
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups unsifted flour (We use King Arthur unbleached flour)
1 tsp baking powder
1 jar (16 oz) maraschino cherries
~ In double boiler, melt 1 cup chocolate chips over 1-inch simmering water.
~ Cream 1/2 cup butter with sugar.
~ Add egg, vanilla and melted chocolate; beat until smooth.
~ Combine flour with baking powder and salt (NOTE: salt is not listed in the ingredients so we figure this was a printing error. We use 1/4 tsp salt); add to creamed mixture, beating until smooth. Chill at least 1 hour.
~ Enclose 1 cherry in 1 tablespoon of dough.
[NOTE: Enclosing that cherry in the dough takes a lot of work! The dough is fairly dry so it has to be squished around the cherry, it can’t be rolled and folded around the cherry. We drain the cherries while the dough is chilling, otherwise, the dough becomes a gooey mess when trying to squeeze it around a squishy cherry. We put a tablespoon of dough in the palm and pressed a little hole in the middle of it to start. Then the cherry was placed into the hole and the crumbly mixture was pressed up over the cherry. Then we carefully squished the whole lump in our fists to close it all up good and tight. Finally, we gently rolled around the lump to make a nice round ball.]
~ Place on greased baking sheet. (Note: we used ungreased, parchment paper-lined baking sheets.)
~ Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 14 minutes. (ours took exactly 15 minutes)
~ Cool on wire rack.
Melt remaining cup chocolate chips with 2 Tbsp maraschino cherry syrup and 1 Tbsp unsalted butter.
(NOTE: We used 1 Tbsp kirsch and 1 Tbsp maraschino cherry syrup)
Frost tops of cookies.
YIELD: 3 1/2 dozen cookies.
It was so tedious forming the Cherry Cordial Cookies that we vowed we would never make them again. But then when we bit into the deep dark chocolate cookie and tasted the exquisite cherry buried within, we decided to make these cookies our new Valentine’s Day tradition.