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Happy Valentine's Day!

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Valentine's Day is here once again (and I've done only one other recipe since last Valentine's Day; whoops).  So, without further ado, I present a new recipe in a new kitchen (which, I'm sorry to say, isn't lit nearly as well as I'd like - feel free to donate to my kitchen renovation fund).

How To Make Valentine's Day Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
(Without a Degree in Art)

Prologue:  This recipe comes from a cooking magazine that my mom buys for me every year.  I made a test batch before I made this batch and sent them to her along with a photocopy of the magazine cover just to prove that I, in fact, read the magazine.






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Step 1:  Assemble the ingredients.

1 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. cocoa
1 c. vanilla or white chips
2 tablespoons shortening
1/2 c. semisweet chocolate chips

Yes, you have to stack the ingredients on top of each other like this.  If you don't, the cookies won't turn out.


Step 2:  Soften the butter.

[Editor's Note:  For some reason, this recipe made a lot less for me than the magazine says it should, so I doubled it.  Here I'm preparing 2 cups of butter instead of one.]

As we all know, kitchen justice is swift.  Here we have the condemned lined up, ready for their punishment.

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There can be only one.

Oh, sorry.

It doesn't take long to soften butter in the microwave.   If you don't watch it closely, you end up with liquefied butter instead, which doesn't work as well in the recipe (instead of the fluffy mixture shown below, you're cursed with what is, essentially, butter soup on top of a layer of sugar).  How do I know this?  Um, er, nevermind . . .

Here we have the softened butter direct from the microwave.

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Step 3:  Add the sugar to the butter . . .

. . . and mix them together.  Please keep all fingers out of the bowl.  As a general maxim for Valentine's cookies, hearts are good; blood is disgusting.

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This is the end result.  It's kind of like whipped cream only about four times as dense. 
Step 4: Add the vanilla.

Or, in my case, try to add the vanilla, then realize the bottle is empty and dig through three cupboards to find the gigantic bottle of vanilla my mom bought me in Mexico last year (and that should pretty much last until I die; maybe I'll put it in my will).

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Step 5:  Combine the cocoa and flour in another bowl.

Oh, look, it formed a heart.  What a cute coincidence!  (That took me forever to make so I don't want to hear anyone say "What heart?")

We now have our "wet" ingredients and our "dry" ingredients, and we must make them one, like two lovers starting out their lives, distinct and different and yet ready to be melded . . .

. . . oh, sorry.

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Step 6: Combine the two ingredients.  Saying some sort of marriage vow is optional.  Personally, I was singing Sarah McLachlan songs at the time.
Unless you have a super heavy duty mixer, this part has to be done by hand.  Yes, I washed my hands before I did this.


No, I wouldn't tell you even if I didn't.

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This is the end result.

Yeah, I know, it doesn't look much like the stuff in the previous picture.  In fact, it looks pretty much like the dough for my waffle cookies.  But this is what happens when two unique entities merge into one . . .

There I go being poetic again.  Sorry.

Oh, look, a heart just magically appeared in the dough!

Yeah, that's right, keep looking at the bowl while I put this away.   What is it?  Um, it's, uh  . . . an apple corer!  Yeah, that's it.   An apple corer.  Certainly not a heart-shaped cookie cutter.  No siree bob.

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Step 7:  Flour the counter.  This is your big excuse to make a mess on purpose.  Run with it.

Step 8:  Roll out the dough to roughly 1/4" thick.

[Editor's Note:  So I found out recently (after my rolling pin began leaking rust) that you're not supposed to put your rolling pin in the dish washer.  Wasn't I supposed to get a memo on this or something?]

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Step 9: Use your apple cor-, er, cookie cutter to cut out shapes.

The recipe says to use a 3-inch cookie cutter.  As I found out during the initial test, that's a good plan.  The gigantic ones I made the first time around lacked structural integrity.

Step 10: Transfer to a cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes (that's what the recipe says, but I found I had to bake mine for around 12 or they weren't done).

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Here we have my first broken heart of the day.  Life can be so cruel.

Let the cookies cool a bit before trying to move them to the cooling rack.



Let the cookies cool completely.  They need to be pretty rigid before you can dip them.

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21vanillachips.jpg (14731 bytes) Okay, let's see how we can make these cookies even less healthy . . .

Step 11:  Add one tablespoon of shortening to the vanilla chips and microwave, stirring frequently, until liquefied . . .

. . . like so.

No, it's not vanilla pudding.  I don't think that would work so well.

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23dipping.jpg (11260 bytes) Step 12:  Here's where we make the cookies pretty!

Carefully dip one side of the cookie . . .

. . . and then the other.  Don't drop it.  Or scrape it against the bottom of the bowl.  Fishing broken cookies out of the bowl isn't much fun. 24dipping.jpg (11720 bytes)
25dipping.jpg (13225 bytes) Let the excess chocolate drip off.


I'm considering renaming these "cleavage cookies."  I'm not sure they'd go over so well, though, although it's certainly easier to say than "Valentine's Day Chocolate Shortbread Cookies."

Step 13:  Repeat.  A lot.

I originally put them on the cooling rack, but I found that getting them off the cooling rack after the chocolate molded around the wireframe was more trouble than it was worth, so I just laid them out on waxed paper instead.  Optimally I'd have a zero gravity cooling chamber and they'd just float around until they were cool, but I think that technology is a few years down the road.

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27chocolate.jpg (18390 bytes) Step 14:  Repeat step 11, but this time with the semisweet chocolate chips instead.
Step 15:  Through trial and error, figure out how to drizzle the chocolate onto the cookies in zigzag patterns.  The first two or three are going to look awful (so eat those before you show them to anyone else). 28chocolate.jpg (20378 bytes)
29cookies.jpg (23750 bytes) And there we go.  One batch of Valentine's Day Chocolate Shortbread Cookies with two kinds of chocolate.

Make sure to let them cool completely before trying to move them.  You'll know you haven't waited long enough when the chocolate comes off on your fingers.

Here we have the final product, ready to take to work (with two plates in the back for the neighbors; it's always good to stay on good terms with the neighbors).

Happy Valentine's Day.  :)

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