Editor’s note: Everyday Dorie is a new twice-monthly column by beloved cookbook author Dorie Greenspan.
Unless you’re brokenhearted, you’d have to be a card-carrying curmudgeon to hate Valentine’s Day. There’s so much to love about it, starting with love itself: romantic, familial and friendly; then hearts; flowers; and chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate. From one year to the next, I can never remember what my husband and I cooked for V-Day dinner (which we always have at home), but I can tell you all about the desserts. There were chocolate puddings, mousses, ice creams, cakes and a particularly rich chocolate tart. There were bonbons, bombes, parfaits, truffles and tiny tea cakes. And they were all good and worthy of encore appearances, but for 2015, I’m bringing something new to the table.
This weekend, when the dinner dishes have been cleared and it’s time for dessert, there’ll be no forks or spoons, there might not even be any plates — I haven’t decided on that yet — and, for sure, there’ll be nothing fancy. This year, I’m going simple and cozy: Saturday’s dessert will be one big, beautiful chocolate cookie, heart-shaped, delicious and shareable. I mean, what could be more romantic than sharing your heart with people you love?
Well, there is one thing that’s as good: sharing my favorite recipes with you every other week, which is what I’ll be doing here. Everyday Dorie will be just what it says, a series of recipes for what I think of as everyday food, food that’s as satisfying to make (I love the whole process of cooking) as it is to serve; food that’s deeply delicious; and food that you’ll want to share over and over again. There’ll be recipes for all kinds of dishes, the proverbial soups to nuts with lots of sweets tossed in. Baking being both my passion and my weakness, it seems just right that we’re starting our adventure together with a cookie.
The cookie itself has a pure chocolate flavor because it’s made with cocoa. (My preference is for Dutch-process cocoa; I use one made in France.) It’s only just sweet enough, giving you plenty of leeway to go mad with sugary decorations. And it has a texture I adore: a cross between a flaky shortbread and a chocolate snap (a crisp cookie from my childhood that seems to have slipped from supermarket shelves).
To get that perfect texture — and to do it sans stress — I make the dough in a food processor. If you start with cold butter and process in pulses only until you’ve got moist clumps and curds, your cookies will have a gorgeous flaky, almost layered crumb (the name for the innards of what you bake). The dough will also be wonderfully malleable and perfect for rolling as soon as you scrape it out of the machine: a technique contrary to everything I was ever taught about dough-rolling, but one that guarantees that the dough will roll smoothly and easily. (If you’re new to rolling or timid about it, fret not; you’ll ace this.)
I’ve given you a recipe that makes two big hearts and a bunch of smaller cookies, so that every sweetheart in your life (or on your kids’ basketball team) can share the love. What I haven’t given you are precise instructions for decorating your hearts. I’ve had too much fun playing with too many options, and I want you to, also. I’ve melted chocolate — white and dark — and glazed the hearts, then have overdone it (if there is such a thing) with colored sanding sugar, conversation hearts, small candies and smaller sprinkles. Not all together on the same cookie, but if that’s your style, go for it. I’ve also made an old-fashioned sugar icing and turned some of it into a cocoa icing and some into colored icing (start with the teeniest drop of food coloring, stir and see if you want more).
I think I’ve settled on a white sugar icing with cocoa-icing X’s and O's. Although an ombré pattern with sanding sugar (tint the sugar as you go) could be nice. Eventually, I’ll make up my mind, and so will you. And when you do, I’d love to see your cookies. Post them on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter and tag them with #everydaydorie, @WaPoFood and @doriegreenspan, and I’ll be sure to see them.
Can’t wait to see what you do. In the meantime, X’s and O’s for V-Day.
Greenspan is the award-winning author of 11 cookbooks, the most recent of which is “Baking Chez Moi.” Read more on her Web site, doriegreenspan.com, and follow her on Twitter: @doriegreenspan. She will host her Just Ask Dorie chat from 1 to 2 p.m. on Thursday at live.washingtonpost.com/just-ask-dorie-2-12-2015.html.