Even though Martha's been baking Valentine's Day cookies for the better part of February, some of us are first turning on our ovens to surprise that special someone with something sweet.
When I need a quick, go-to cookie I usually turn to shortbread. With few ingredients and a quick baking time, they're easy to please even the pickiest eater.
For Valentine's Day, you can try a little something different and dip them in velvety chocolate for a smooth and elegant finish, either making your own or using a store bought chocolate sauce (I like Chalmer's Ganache).
Chocolate Dipped Shortbread Hearts
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup sifted confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 teaspoon canola oil or pure vegetable shortening
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar, and vanilla until combined. On slow speed, beat in flour and salt until combined. Wrap dough in plastic wrap; chill until firm, at least 2 hours, or overnight.
2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough until 1/16-to-1/8 inch thick. Cut out hearts with a 2-inch heart cookie cutter. Transfer cookies to an ungreased baking sheet; chill for 30 minutes.
3. Heat oven to 300 degrees with a rack in the center. Press the tines of a fork into each cookie to make designs. Bake until just beginning to brown around the edges, about 18 minutes. (Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for about 5 days.)
4. In the top of a double boiler or in a heat-proof bowl set over simmering water, melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally. Stir in the oil. Dip half or one third of each cookie into the chocolate mixture. Transfer cookies to a cooling rack to dry, or place them on a piece of parchment paper in the freezer for 10 minutes. Serve.
Yields approximately 4 dozen 2 1/2 inch cookies.