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Virtual Valentine

Screen Shot 2013-02-05 at 8.18.12 AMWhat baker doesn’t love Valentine’s Day? Let me count the ways I love thee, and make thee a smorgasbord of precious heart-shaped treats. It has everything to do with my loving heart and nothing to do with my chocolate addiction. I am aware that if I really gave in, I could go overboard. I love baking that much. What did I bake this year? Nada. Zilch. Nul. Nothing. I have a kind of reverse pride about it. I was working; who has time for hallmark holidays anyway? But a girl can still dream, can’t she? This is what I would have whipped up, you know, in my spare time. In the spirit of “Nothing Twice,” a poem by Wislawa Szymborska, I wish you a happy, belated Valentine’s Day:

“Nothing can ever happen twice
In consequence, the sorry fact is
that we arrive here improvised
and leave without the chance to practice.”
(Which leaves just enough time for…

Homemade Fudge Sauce

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5 squares unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup butter
1 can (14 1/2 oz) evaporated milk
1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
3 c. unsifted confectioner’s sugar
Melt chocolate and butter; remove from heat. Add sugar and evaporated milk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook/stir about 8 minutes, until thick and creamy. Remove from heat. Add vanilla. Serve warm.)

“Even if there is no one dumber,
If you’re the planet’s biggest dunce,
you can’t repeat the class in summer:
this course is only offered once.”

(Unless you are Martha Stewart, in which case
your DIY projects are ALWAYS perfection)

Linzer Heart Cookies

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“No day copies yesterday,
no two nights will teach what bliss is
in precisely the same way,
with precisely the same kisses.”
(Precisely: see these lumpy, oozing, imperfectly heart-shaped

Salted Caramel Brownies

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“One day, perhaps some idle tongue
mentions your name by accident:
I feel as if a rose were flung
into the room, all hue and scent.

The next day, though you’re here with me,
I can’t help looking at the clock:
A rose? A rose? What could that be?
Is it a flower or a rock?”

(Or might that be the invigorating scent of peppermint mingled with the decadent warmth of chocolate, dare I say a HOMEMADE OREO? Actually,

Chocolate Wafer Sandwich Cookies

Screen Shot 2013-11-03 at 6.49.55 PMAdapted from Martha Stewart Baking Handbook, makes about 24

1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. plus 2 Tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 c.) unsalted butter, room temp
2/3 c. packed light-brown sugar
1/3 c. granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, baking powder/soda, and salt; set aside. In an electric mixer with paddle attachment, beat butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy. And egg and vanilla. With mixer on low, add flour mixture a little at a time, beat to combine, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
  • Turn out dough onto plastic wrap. Divide in half. With floured hands shape each piece into flattened rectangle, wrap with plastic, and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
  • Place one rectangle of dough on lightly floured work surface. Roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness, stopping to release dough by running an offset spatula underneath. You should end up with a rectangle about 14 by 11 inches. Transfer dough to a prepared baking sheet and freeze until very firm, about 30 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place one rectangle of dough on a clean work surface. Working quickly, cut out rounds using a heart shaped cookie cutter. (Return to freezer if dough softens too much.) Transfer hearts to parchment-lined baking sheets. Gather remaining scraps, reroll, and cut out more hearts. Freeze on baking sheet until firm; about 15 minutes. Repeat with remaining rectangle of dough.
  • Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until centers of cookies feel firm when slightly pressed, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely. (This is how long recommended for 2-inch round cookie cutter. May vary depending on size of hearts.)
  • Using an offset spatula, spread 1 tablespoon desired filling onto flat sides of cookies. Sandwich with remaining cookies. Unfilled cookies can be kept in airtight container at room temp for up to 1 week. Once filled, cookies are best eaten the day they are made but can be kept in an airtight container in fridge for up to 3 days.

With Peppermint Icing

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“Why do we treat the fleeting day
with so much needless fear and sorrow?
It’s in its nature to stay:
Today is always gone tomorrow.

With smiles and kisses, we prefer
to seek accord beneath our star,
although we’re different (we concur)
just as two drops of water are.”

(Indeed. The day is fleeting, and the recipes are now online. Why not sit down to a leisurely lunch primarily consisting of cheese, and watch the world by, one drop at a time.)

Croque Monsieur

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[Photos: “A Mother’s Love, Staten Island NY,” Grufnik’s photostream, sea turtle’s photo stream, geertr’s photo stream, smitten kitchen’s photo instructions http://smittenkitchen.com/about/faq/, godutchbaby’s photostream]

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