Here’s Your Valentine’s Project

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When I was in Girl Scouts earning badges, I actually had a hard time earning the cooking badges. My mother was a fantastic cook and she was the queen of the kitchen. Us four girls were only allowed in the kitchen to set the table or occasionally make a salad. She just did not want anybody underfoot. She did not want help. But since I had to do some cooking on my own to earn a badge, I was allowed to make what has become one of my go-to favorite cookies. Plus mom would never go to the fuss of these babies, rolled cookies were never found at our house unless one of us girls insisted on making them for some holiday. Thanks mom.

This one for Cherry Filled Cookies is shaped like hearts and so it has to be made on Valentine’s Day. I suppose you could make round ones and eat them any other day. Or eat hearts any other day. But me, I like the tradition, the ritual, the special thrill of eating them after waiting a whole year. The cookie is tender and soft, the filling is not-too-sweet combo of orange and cherry. They make me happy and they make me feel loved. My husband starts wondering when they will appear around the 7th of February.

They are kind of a hassle. I mean I would rather make a pan of brownies because you stir it up, pour it all in one pan, bake, slice and eat out of the same pan. These lovelies have to be planned for. You have to make the cookie and the filling a day ahead and let them chill. Then you have to roll them out and cut them and re-roll and cut. And then you have to crimp all the way around a heart shape. I am realizing why I only make them once a year. They really are a labor of love and the making of them is a project. So some days I want a project and I want the delightful result of my work. It makes me proud to have perfect cookies that none of the filling squeezed out of and that are perfectly browned. The chef’s treat are those obstinate few who leak and over-brown. Hahaha, lucky cook, cuz somebody’s always gotta step outa line!

Here are the things to look out for:

  • Mix up your dough and filling at least a day before you plan to bake them. I know, I know, you have to think ahead. But I am telling you this now so you can do it and you will be happy you listened to me.
  • You have to use a giant cookie cutter. Those cute 2″ ones won’t hold enough filling to flavor the cookie enough, they will be all crust and crimped edges.

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  • If you don’t have a tiny heart cutter, then cut a circle or X. Most years that is what I did. When my mother-in-law was moving several years ago, she gave me a set of darling little “aspic cutters” in a cute little tin. I guess I was the only daughter or daughter-in-law who might know what to do with them. I assure you aspic has never been made or cut with them, but these cookies have benefited every year since then. At the time I just thought they looked so 1950’s Amy Vanderbilt and I coveted the tin they were stored in, so they had to be mine. Thanks Joyce.
  • Put as much filling as you think will fit and try to keep it in the center to avoid too much seepage at the edges.

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