Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

I started my morning by making surprise Almond Valentine Cookies. This recipe is also known as Candy Cane Cookies but I just shaped mine into hearts instead of candy canes. I was also trying out an almond emulsion instead of extract. Emulsions are often used by professional bakers for a more in your face flavor. They are alcohol free so the flavor doesn't bake off when it's heated. The cookies did come out pretty almond-y!
Almond Valentine Cookies
(Joy of Baking)
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsaltedbutter, room temperature
1 cup confectioners sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract (or almond emulsion!)
1/2 teaspoon red food coloring
1. In a bowl, whisk the flour with the salt.
2. In a second bowl beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Add the egg yolks and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the flour mixture and beat until you have a smooth dough.
3. Remove half of the dough from the mixing bowl. To the remaining half add the red food coloring and beat on low speed until well blended.
4. Take a walnut sized piece of red dough and a walnut sized piece of white dough. Separately, roll each color on a lightly floured surface, into a 4-5 inch long rope. Place the two ropes side by side, gently press together, and twist the two ropes to form a spiral. Place the cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet, spacing the cookies about 2 inches apart. Shape each cookie into a cane shape or a heart!
5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and bake 8-10 minutes.

Almond cookies are a nice alternative to your overly sweet cookie. However, this dough is a pain in the butt to work with and you must have patience when twisting the shapes as it is prone to cracking. The cookies are also very fragile when baked so stick to smaller shapes, not giant hearts that break when you carry them all the way down to city hall.

I also made some chocolate covered strawberries! I had some leftover bittersweet chocolate from my birthday Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes so I heated it up, dipped in my strawberries and boom! I butchered up some milk chocolate with white chocolate Lindt truffles in order to get some white chocolate to decorate them with. Do you know how hard it is to scoop out the insides of a Lindt truffle? Outrageous. I combined these luscious berries with some Bacon Wrapped Scallops to created a platter 'o love and romance.
Chocolate Covered Strawberries
(just winging it)
Dark Chocolate
White Chocolate
1. Heat chocolate (I used my ghetto double boiler system consisting of a small frying pan over a pot), once melted dip your strawberries in, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper.
2. Let them cool a bit while you heat up your white chocolate. Drizzle your white chocolate over your strawberries.
3. Place in the fridge until time to serve.
And because Mr. Lawyer deserves some bonus points he shall be a special kitchen guest! He surprised me with a very yummy dinner of baked salmon (coated with butter, pepper, smoked danish salt and baked at 400 for 15 minutes), my most favorite asparagus (coated in olive oil, sprinkled with salt, pepper, garlic and baked at 350 until done), and some rice pilaf (from a box). Most impressive and yummy! All washed down with some Catawba wine from Torrey Ridge. (Go NY wine!)

Not food but I love my flowers!

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