Valentine’s Day Recipes: Shortbread Cookies and Macarons

Shortbread Cookies

Express love and affection for someone special this Valentine’s Day with sweet tokens of confection. Presented in doily-lined boxes, these treats are as prettily packaged as they are delicious. Golden-brown, heart-shaped Honey-Lavender Shortbread with Strawberry Preserves, above, are scented with vanilla, honey, lavender, and cardamom and sandwiched with a thin coating of strawberry jam. Toast the holiday with a glass of pink Champagne and decadent Almond Macarons with Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream, below. A handmade valentine, embellished with ribbons and lace, is a thoughtful and timeless keepsake for your recipient.

Macarons Recipe

 

Honey-Lavender Shortbread with Strawberry Preserves
Yields 2
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups unsalted butter
  2. 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  3. 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped, seeds reserved
  4. 2/3 cup honey
  5. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  6. 5 cups all-purpose flour
  7. 3 tablespoons chopped fresh culinary lavender
  8. 2 tablespoons dried culinary lavender
  9. 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  10. 1 teaspoon salt
  11. 4 tablespoons course sparkling sugar
  12. 1 cup strawberry preserves
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl and using a mixer at medium speed, beat butter, confectioners' sugar, reserved vanilla-bean seeds, honey, and vanilla extract until creamy.
  2. In a separate large bowl, whisk together flour, fresh lavender, dried lavender, cardamom and salt.
  3. Reduce mixer speed to low, and gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating until combined.
  4. Remove dough from bowl, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hour, or overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside.
  6. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to a 1/4-inch thickness. Using a 2 1/4-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut as many cookies as possible, rerolling scraps until all dough is used. Place cookies on prepared baking sheets. Using a 1-inch heart-shaped cutter, remove centers from half of cookies; sprinkle resulting cutout cookies evenly with sparkling sugar.
  7. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until edges of cookies are slightly browned. Let cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes, and transfer to wire racks to let cool completely.
  8. Spread heart cookies with approximately 2 teaspoons strawberry preserves each, and sandwich with cutout heart cookies. Sandwich cookies can be stored, at room temperature, in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Victoria https://www.victoriamag.com/
Almond Macarons with Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream
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Ingredients
  1. 3 large egg whites
  2. 1 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  3. 2 cups confectioners' sugar*, divided
  4. 2 tablespoons sugar
  5. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  6. Red food coloring
  7. 1 cup Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream (recipe follows)
For the Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream
  1. 5 egg whites
  2. 1 1/2 cups sugar
  3. 2 cups unsalted butter
  4. 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. To a medium mixing bowl, add egg whites, and let sit at room temperature, uncovered, for exactly 3 hours.* Line several baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a pencil, draw 1 1/2-ich circles, 2 inches apart on parchment paper. Turn parchment paper over; set aside.
  2. In the work bowl of a food processor, combine almonds and 1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar. pulsing until finely ground. (Do not overprocess, or nut butter will be created. The nut particles should stay separated and dry, not clump together.) Add remaining confectioners' sugar, and process until just combined. Set aside.
  3. Using a mixer at medium-high speed, beat egg whites until frothy. Gradually add sugar, beating at high speed until stiff peaks form, about 3 to 5 minutes. (Egg whites will be thick, creamy, and shiny.) Add vanilla extract and desired amount of food coloring; mix well.
  4. Add almond mixture to egg whites, folding gently until well combined. Let batter sit for 15 minutes. Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a medium round tip. Pipe batter into drawn circles on prepared baking sheets. Tap baking sheets vigorously on counter 5 to 7 times to release air bubbles. Let sit at room temperature for 45 minutes to 1 hour before baking; this will help develop macarons' signature crisp exterior when baked. (Macarons should feel dry to the touching should not stick to finger.)
  5. Preheat oven to 275°. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until firm to the touch. Let cool completely on baking sheets, then remove to airtight containers. Refrigerate until ready to fill and serve.
  6. Place Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream in pastry bag fitted with a small round tip. Pipe mixture onto flat side of macaron, and top with another macaron, flat sides together; pushing down gently and twisting slightly so that filling will spread to edges. Repeat with remaining macarons and filling.
For the Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream
  1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine egg whites and sugar. Using a mixer and medium speed, whisk together. Set bowl over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly until mixture registers 140° on an instant-read candy thermometer. Remove mixture from heat. Using a mixer fitted with a whip attachment, beat at high speed for 10 minutes, or until mixing bowl is cool tot he touch and meringue is tripled in volume.
  2. Reduce mixer speed to low. Add butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla extract, and beat to combine. Using mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat mixture at medium-high speed for 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Use immediately.
Victoria https://www.victoriamag.com/
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