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Posts tagged ‘Baking’

My Simple Valentine: Heart-Shaped Shortbread Cookies Dipped in Chocolate

Valentine’s Day has always been a favorite holiday of mine, but the days of hand-crafted paper and glitter cards, and (thankfully) the painful awkward days of middle-school choir class and Mrs. Powers’ “Have a Heart” song/activity are long gone. This year I’ll be spending Valentine’s Day evening at the French Culinary Institute, doing production for the school’s restaurant, L’Ecole… and I will be on butchering duty. My bloody valentine will consist of a case of ducks that need to be broken down, and a case of lamb and pork racks that will need to be frenched before service. When that’s done and over with we’ll be moving on to Foie Gras Hotdogs, and Spiced Short-Rib Hot Dogs on freshly baked Brioche Buns, which certainly isn’t everyone’s idea of a traditional treat for the holiday.

I had plenty of frozen Pate Sablee in stock so I decided to make some really simple Shortbread Cookies dipped in Semi-Sweet Chocolate. I thought of many ways to make the cookie a little more special (crystalized ginger, pretzel pieces, almonds, dried cherries…) but although the cookies are not extremely sweet, they are very rich, and after sampling a few I decided the addition of chocolate was enough. This dough is easy to make, and freezes great, or stays in the fridge for over a week. If you don’t have time for arts and crafts, and want a quick homemade treat for friends, coworkers, classmates, (and certain chef instructors), this is a great cookie to try out.

Pate Sablee (Shortbread Dough)

150 g (5oz) Butter
90 g (3 oz) Confectioner’s Sugar
Pinch of Salt (Fleur de Sel)
1 t good vanilla
2 egg yolks
255 g (9 oz) cake flour
1-2 t water
Granulated sugar (for sprinkling)

1. Soften butter by placing between two layers of plastic wrap and flattening with rolling-pin
2. Combine butter and sugar with fork (or beat with mixer) until creamy
3. Add egg yolks one at a time, until mixed completely
4. Add vanilla and pinch of salt
5. Sift flour and add at once. Make sure mixture is well combined and form into a ball. Flatten into a disc and refrigerate at least 30mins.
6. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
7. Roll out dough to be just under 1 cm thick. The dough will rise a bit in oven. Cut with heart-shaped cookie cutter! Make sure to give enough space between cookies on pan. Sprinkle a bit of granulated sugar evenly over surface.
8. Bake about 15 mins, until the edges of the cookies are light brown.
9. Let cool.
10. In a double boiler, melt 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels. Once melted, add another 1/4 cup. Dip corners of cooled cookies into the chocolate, or drizzle a bit over the cookies with a spoon or plastic spatula.

This is the classic french recipe for Pate Sablee which can also be used as a great base for tarts. I listed this recipe as I had plenty left over from the Tarte Au Citron we’ve been making in class, but Ina Garten also has a delicious and easy shortbread recipe I have used which you can find here.



Bake that pie and eat it with me.

Apple Pie (right out of the oven). How bad can that be?

The pies came out a bit more “rustic” as Chef Scott at FCI would put it, but I cannot complain about the results as far as taste. That more perfect, Martha-esque style will come in time, with much more practice, I hope.

Apple Pie:

After making my pie crusts the night before (using the recipe I’ve previously posted) I used the following:

5 Cortland Apples (thinly sliced)
5 Granny Smith Apples (thinly sliced)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 T maple syrup
Zest of one lemon
2 T lemon juice
2 T cinnamon
1 T fresh nutmeg
1 T allspice
1/4 cup flour

I toss all ingredients together in a large bowl and add it to the crust lined pan, and then top with crust and cut vents or shapes. Cook at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes to an hour until crust is golden brown. Topped here with some of the Cabot Clothbound Cheddar… such a treat!
Sweet Potato Pie with Ginger Whipped Cream and Maple-Glazed Pecans

I borrowed a really simple recipe for Sweet Potato Pie filling from Bon Appetit (via and made a few changes for a more complex flavor combination.

For the Filling:

2 large red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams; 13/4 pounds)
1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 cup whipping cream
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg white, beaten to blend

Preheat oven to 400 Degrees. Pierce potatoes with fork and place on wire rack in oven, bake 45 minutes or until completely tender.

When cool, scoop out flesh of potatoes, and mash with potato masher or ricer. Combine next six ingredients. Bake 45 minutes.

For Topping:

The topping here was so easy and so delicious! I just added about 1/2 cup finely chopped candied ginger to my whipped cream (whipped by hand of course!) and topped with a few of the wonderful Maple-Glazed Pecans I had prepared the night before. Because Sweet potato pie is really not that sweet, the mild sweetness of the cream, and the sweetness of the maple added a nice touch, not to mention the crunchy texture of the nuts and the subtle bite of the candied ginger. I thought it all tied together quite well. And, judging from the lack of leftovers, so did the rest of the family.