Year two of the blog will bring a new culinary challenge. I’m going back to the basics and am challenging myself to actually use the cookbooks I have. The internet makes it so easy to be inundated by recipes, that we often forget about the ones sitting right under our noses in our beloved cookbooks. My new challenge is to try at least one new recipe a month from each of my cookbooks. Feel free to join the challenge, either with the books I choose or using the cookbooks on your own shelves.
I love Valentine's Day! Not because of the mushy relationshipy love stuff that makes you feel obligated to go to some fancy dinner (along with everyone else in the city) or buy chocolates and flowers, but the part where you get to make themed treats, wear red and pink and hearts and just be generally in a good mood. As a kid I loved Valentine's Day; in elementary school it was the best! You'd create a make-shift envelope out of construction paper and tape it to the side of your desk, and everyone would walk around the room and place tiny treats in each other's Valentine's Day mail boxes. Then, you'd walk home with your stuffed envelope, eat candy and read all the goofy jokes from your classmate's Valentines.
My mom always made Valentine's Day special too. We'd eat heart shaped food (mostly in the form of a Jell-O mold) and eat off of heart themed plates and napkins. Plus, one year she made special giant heart cookies with our names on them and we got to eat them before dinner, score!
She still sends me Valentine's in the mail, along with some other V-day themed gift. This year it was a super retro Valentine (not in the hipster way but in the "this is legitimately from the 1940's/50's" way), a chocolate mint heart and rockin' lady bug heart socks!
Seriously though, the Valentine really is from when my Mom was a kid (not sure why she'd hold on to an unused Valentine for this long but it reminds me that I really should be wary of my pack rat tendencies). I noticed it looked super old and she told me she wasn't sure where it came from or how long she'd had it. I Googled the Valentine message and found this Vintage Valentine Museum blog and it was there! Crazy what we hold on to from our childhood.
And check out the 1990 trade mark date on Tom's Scooby-Doo Valentine!
Last year I made shortbread heart cookies as a Valentine's Day treat for friends and co-workers. This year I was inspired by this recipe I found from the Dahlia Bakery. The Dahlia Bakery is one of Tom Douglass' many restaurants in Seattle. I'm actually headed to Seattle this weekend and am super excited to check out the biscuit bar at Serious Pie for brunch. Brunch is by far my favorite meal (especially to eat out) and there are so many different biscuit combinations, I'm not sure how I'll ever decide on just one! Plus, I always have the savory vs. sweet dilemma at brunch and I thought the biscuit bar would eliminate the sweet option, but check out the homemade PB, banana and honey biscuit, what do I do?!
Ok, back to the cookies. This recipe was quite different than any other cookie I've made in the past. First off, it called for a ton of melted bittersweet chocolate, like 20 ounces a ton. I under-bought in the chocolate department so I ended up halving the recipe and made smaller cookies (using my mini cookie scoop). The recipe has you making 3.5 inch cookies, which is a little excessive, and I think cutting the recipe in half worked out fine. Halving the recipe yielded 34 ~2.5 inch cookies. I also topped mine with Valentine M&M's to make them appropriately festive.
Another thing that was different about this recipe was that it had you beat the butter, sugar and eggs together on high speed for a couple minutes. Normally over-beating the eggs leads to cakey cookies (yuck) but this created the crinkly tops, and also gave them a super chewy texture (kind of like macaroons, yum).
After beating the butter, sugar and eggs, I added in the vanilla and melted chocolate and folded in the dry ingredients and mini chocolate chips.
I used my mini scoop to place dough balls on a lined cookie sheet and used a wet palm to flatten them out a bit and to also make sure they were nice and round. I put a few M&M's on top and baked them at 350 for 12 minutes, rotating the baking sheet half-way through.
Please take note of my V-day themed backdrop: A Valentine's Day gift of years past from my parents.
They turned out great! Rich, chocolaty, chewy and delicious. One of my co-workers actually said (unprompted), "These are ridiculously good! It combines the best qualities of a brownie and a cookie." So there you go, nailed it.
Also a quick update on my March Cook the Books Challenge. I'm going against the rules of using books I already have (but to be fair I don't have 12 cookbooks so buying more was inevitable) and I've chosen Jerusalem: A Cookbook, by Yotam Ottolenghi (the author of Plenty, which also looks awesome!) and Sami Tamimi.