What does Valentine's Day mean to you? Is it a day that you enjoy because you spend time with loved ones? Is it a day that makes you feel pressured to buy the right thing for the right person? Or is it a day that makes you feel lonely because you have not yet found the right person? It never ceases to amaze me how much emotion or stress one holiday can stir up.
Although Valentine's Day was traditionally a day of romance in Europe, it was Esther Howland of Worcester, Massachusetts who in 1847 created and popularized the mass produced Valentines Day card, creating, in essence, the original Hallmark holiday.
What do we do in our house on Valentine's Day? Nothing. Sound unromantic?
Here's a story for you. Two days ago after working on the floors in our old house, I fell down the long twisted staircase in our front hallway and got pretty banged up. My husband rushed over, packed me in ice, sat with me until I felt better, set me up with the computer, made me lunch and made me laugh. Since I can only stand on my left leg for 5 minutes at a time, he even made the puff pastry used in this recipe so I could write this blog post. To me, this is romance. No cash outlay. No corporate sponsored nationally designated holiday. Just friendship and love, daily.
So here's to love and friendship. If you feel lonely, treat yourself to a museum or special activity that makes you feel good without breaking the bank. If you feel pressured, ask yourself why. If you feel loved, thank your lucky stars and don't take it for granted. And if you feel hungry, make these cookies, share them with a good friend and laugh while you sip the hot chocolate and reach for another scoop of whipped cream.
Most importantly, love yourself...the rest will follow.
Heart-Shaped Palmiers and Chocolat Chaud with Fresh Whipped Cream
(Palmiers are a French cookie made of puff pastry and sugar. The word Palmier means Palm Tree in French. Chocolat Chaud is French for hot chocolate.)
1 completed recipe puff pastry (I recommend the recipe in the book Baking with Julia, written by Dorie Greenspan)
1 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spread out 1/2 cup of sugar onto a large silicone baking sheet. Place the puff pastry on the sugar and roll it out into a rectangle 24"X12". Spread 1/2 cup sugar evenly over the dough. Turn the pastry so that it is facing you horizontally. Fold the bottom edge of the dough up so that it lies in the middle and the top edge of the dough down so that it lies in the middle. The two edges should now touch each other in the middle. Next, fold the left side in halfway so that it lies in the middle. Fold the right side in halfway so that it lies in the middle. Both sides should now meet in the center. Next, take what remains and fold it in half so that the left side meets the right side, like you're closing a book. Chill for 20 minutes. Slice along the short end into about 1/2 inch slices and place flat on cookie sheets lined with silicone baking mats. Fan out slighly at the top and pinch at the bottom to create a heart shape. Remember to allow room on your baking sheets because each cookie will triple in size. Because the dough needs to stay cold before it is baked, you may want to only work with a few slices at a time. Bake for about 8 minutes and flip. If there is not enough carmelization on the back, bake for a few minutes longer. Cool on baking rack.
Chocolat Chaud with Fresh Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
4 tbs. powdered sugar
85 grams chopped dark chocolate
2 cups whole milk
2 tbs. powdered dry milk
Whip cream in a stand mixture with powdered sugar until you have whipped cream. Set aside.
Heat milk in microwave for 1 minute. Add chopped chocolate, powdered milk and heat for an additional minute. Remove and stir to blend in chocolate. Heat for an additional 30 seconds or until hot. Top with whipped cream and eat with Palmiers.
Happy Valentine's Day and Bon Appetit!