My favorite Valentine's Day cookie? Shortbread, definitely. My friend Dana's recipe is the best I've tasted. She adapted it from Martha Stewart, and the key is the salt - it's the perfect chemistry between salt and sweet, especially when you had some cocoa to the mix. I made hundreds of sun-shaped ones to go into welcome gift bags for guests at our Sun Valley wedding (with help from my mom and bridesmaids) and they were a huge hit.
And the best part? They keep incredibly well, so you can get a head start on baking up a storm for your dear ones. Just a few simple ingredients bake up into the perfect way to share your love:
The Best Short Bread Cookie
(adapted from Martha by my friend Dana)
8 ounces (2 sticks) of unsalted butter (room temperature)
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon of course salt
1/2 cup confectioners or granulated sugar
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
Heat oven to 365 degrees. Prepare a cookie sheet if rolling out to cut into shapes, or butter an 8 1/2-inch cake or springform pan, set aside.
Sift together flour and salt into a small bowl, set aside. Place butter into bowl of an electric mixture fitted with paddle attachment. Cream until fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Add sugar and continue to beat until very light in color and fluffy, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl (about two minutes more). Add vanilla. Add flour mixture and combine on low speed, scraping with spatula if necessary, until flower is just incorporated and dough sticks together when squeezed with fingers.
If rolling dough to cut into shapes, form into a flat disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm, at least one hour. Or, pat dough into prepared 8 1/2-inch cake or springform pan.
Bake until firm and just starting to color - about 10 to 13 minutes if cut into cookie shapes, 50 minutes if in a cake or springform pan.
Cool completely on a wire rack. Cookies will keep 3 to 4 weeks in an airtight container (longer if frozen)
For chocolate shortbread, sift 1/2 cup of cocoa with flour and salt and proceed as noted above.
What's your favorite way to someone's heart come Valentine's Day?