Although Valentine’s Day is associated with romance and love, the history behind the “holiday” is tied to both the Catholic Church and folk traditions. The first recorded association with romance was written by Geoffrey Chaucer in 1382, translated as “”For this was on St. Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.” The poem was written to honor the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia.
By the 15th century, poets were celebrating love and romance, and with the invention of the postal stamp in 1840, valentine’s cards became mainstream and later mass produced. In 1936, the Japanese department store Morozoff introduced the holiday for the first time, and in 1953 they began promoting heart-shaped chocolates.
Chocolate has become a favorite way for many folks to celebrate the occasion. Valentine’s Day it is also a wonderful opportunity for families to gather round and make cookies. On a recent visit to my mother, I found the recipe for Lemon Shortbread Hearts in a crafting magazine. Remembering how much my siblings and I enjoyed mixing, rolling, shaping (and eating!) cookies, I gave the recipe a try.
Like most shortbreads, this cookie is rich and buttery, and not too sweet. The lemon zest from grating a fresh lemon adds a nice taste component.
When mixing the batter, it was a little dry, so a spot of cream helped to form a nice ball. Instead of rolling the dough between pieces of waxed paper, I used a well-floured surface. After the entire production, the kitchen was a mess of flour and cookie dough scraps, but the results were a pretty, heart-shaped treats.
Making cookies is a great way to introduce young folks to the joys of the kitchen and the art of baking. Whatever one creates, it will always be beautiful. Remember to have fun, and just like my mother, be sure to share the love with family and friends.
- 1 cup butter at room temperature
- ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
- ¼ cup cane sugar
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
- 2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- Colored sugar optional
- In the bowl of your electric mix, cream together the butter and sugars.
- Beat in the grated lemon peel. Gradually add the flour. Divide the dough into 2 pieces, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 minutes or more.
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let soften slightly. Roll each piece of dough between 2 pieces of waxed paper in a sheet about ¼ inch thick. Cut into shapes with a floured cookie cutter and place on lightly greased sheet pans. Bake until bottoms are lightly browned, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove to rack to cool completely.
- To prepare the glaze, combine the confectioners sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice.
- Mix until smooth. Spread a thin layer of glaze over the cookies, then sprinkle with colored sugar if desired.