It’s Valentine’s Day. You know, possibly THE biggest capitalist scam of the year, and that considers a pretty sizeable amount of ‘days’. Cynicism aside, I bake something on Valentine’s Day every year and this year is no different, except of course that I’m sharing my bake with you guys. I guess you could call yourselves my valentine, awww.
Anywayyyyy, I needed a break from uni – I go through this pretty much every term. It gets to about six weeks in and I am DONE with looking after myself. I begin to make the long journey home, spending the entire car journey reminiscing and thinking about my mum’s cooking, my kingsized comfort zone of a bed and how I’m going get greeted with the warm, familiar scent of home by parents who welcome me with open arms poking away at me and asking why I look ill (even when I’m not ill). Well usually anyway. This time, I was left to fend for myself as my parents were away on holiday. I mean I could have taken advantage of the whole free house situation and had some mad party Project X style but come on, it’s me. I spent most of the weekend mooching on the sofa with a cup of tea watching TV and giving in to an occasional gym break. I won’t bore you with anymore mundane life details, other than the fact I’m beyond happy my winter assignment related stress paid off and I’m sitting comfortably on a 2:1 at uni.
I was flipping though my mum’s calendar (she has a Good Food calendar) and these biscuits were February’s recipe of the month. They looked simple enough to make, if a little time consuming but they were so adorable that I absolutely couldn’t resist making them. They are lovely little vanilla butter biscuits with a slightly tangy heart shaped centre and they’re not only nice to look at, they taste really good too – think M&S all butter viennese biscuits. These are definitely worth your time this Valentine’s Day. Or, any other day of the year… I don’t judge!
You’ll need a food processor for this one. And like five spare hours but the actual making part is really easy, it’s just the waiting that takes time so line up a few good films and disappear every so often to check on the status of your biscuits.
Makes about 25-30 biscuits
300g plain flour
200g salted butter, diced
120g golden caster sugar
2 large egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla extract
10-20g freeze dried strawberries or raspberries (optional but so worth it)
red food colouring
Pulse the flour and butter together in the food processor until the texture resembles fine crumbs. Add the sugar and egg yolks and pulse until you have a smooth dough. I had to stop the mixer once or twice to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl down to make sure everything was incorporated. Take out 1/3 of the dough and set it aside. With the remaining dough, add the vanilla and pulse until combined. I used vanilla extract paste and I’m so glad I did – nothing beats the little give-away flecks of vanilla seeds! Place this larger portion of dough in some cling film and leave it out on the counter.
Pulse your freeze dried raspberries or strawberries until finely ground. You may have the odd seed here and there but that’s fine. Add the smaller portion of dough to the mixer again and add the raspberry powder and food colouring. Pulse until combined and continue adding food colouring until you’re happy with the colour. If you want to keep things natural, then you could hold off on the food colour full stop and just use more freeze dried fruit.
Roll the coloured dough between parchment paper, keeping it fairly thick. Using a smallish heart shaped cutter, cut out little shapes and stack them on top of each other evenly. Continue re-rolling and cutting until you have used all the coloured dough and you have a long heart shaped cylinder. Gently press the ends together to seal and wrap the heart shaped column up in cling film and put it in the freezer for 2-3 hours until completely firm.
Once firm, remove the hearts from the freezer and split the rest of the vanilla dough in to three pieces. Roughly roll each piece in to sausage shape, about the length of the heart shaped cylinder and pack it on the top and sides. Roll the dough in to a large and smooth cylinder shape on a floured surface, ensuring the coloured dough is well hidden on the inside. Wrap the whole thing up in cling film and let it rest in the fridge for about 2 hours.
Pre-heat the oven to 150FAN and place a rack in the lower half of the oven. You don’t want the biscuits to be near the top as they will brown and lose the contrast between the colours. Remove the dough from the fridge and trim off the end pieces. You’ll be able to see the secret heart in the middle (hurrah!). Cut the dough in to 1/2 cm rounds, or thicker if you want thicker biscuits, and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for about 15 minutes until just golden on the outside. Leave to cool on a wire rack until firm. If you don’t want to bake all the biscuits, cut off as many as you need and wrap the rest of the log up and freeze it. Take the log out an hour before cutting and baking.
Recipe from BBC Good Food