Things have been quiet here lately. Like many of you, I’ve been processing the news of the past several weeks. I haven’t said much because I wasn’t sure what I had to add to the conversation. I had a small line in my last post about how I was feeling, but it’s hard to find words beyond that. I know this is, first and foremost, a food blog. However, I will not sit by and write about cookies while pretending like everything is normal. Everything is not normal.
I’m inspired daily by people taking action – marching, writing letters, sharing stories, making phone calls. We went to a rally a few weeks ago, Leo’s first (the same age Clara was at her first rally back in 2012), and it gave us an opening to talk to Clara about things that are happening. I find power in raising my kids with kindness and empathy, hoping they will take that out into the world, and I take comfort in knowing they won’t be exposed to the same racist dialogue I heard growing up. I also find comfort in food, in cooking and eating (shoutout to Jeni’s for that pint club delivery on Inauguration Day).
I once used to shun Valentine’s Day as just some commercial holiday, but it’s definitely grown on me since becoming a parent. This year, especially, it seems more important than ever to take the opportunity to show people we care. Not just for one day in February, of course, but for the whole year. Maybe you’ll do that by making a meal or batch of cookies for someone. Even better, find a worthy organization in your area and donate your skills/time/money to them. IRC has locations all over, including one here in Richmond, and they are helping refugees build new lives in America. Find a way to spread love and kindness. We need it now more than ever.
And before we get to the recipe for these cookies, which I’ve said nothing about (I wouldn’t post them unless they were delicious, so there you go), I leave you with one of my favorite movie quotes. “If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.”
- COOK TIME:
- YIELD: about 2 dozen
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
½ teaspoon baking powder
¾ cup pecan halves, toasted
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar, plus more for sprinkling
⅛ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
¼ cup strawberry jam
¼ cup Nutella
Whisk together flour and baking powder in a bowl; set aside. Pulse pecans, confectioners’ sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a food processor until finely ground (but not wet); transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
Add butter and granulated sugar to the mixer bowl; beat on medium speed until fluffy. Mix in vanilla and egg, then reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture and continue mixing on low until combined. Halve dough, shape into disks and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.
Heat oven to 375º. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Working with 1 disk at a time, roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to ⅛-inch thick. Use a 2-inch fluted cutter to cut out shapes. Cut out centers of half the rounds with a ½-inch heart cutter; re-roll scraps. Space cookies 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Chill dough on baking sheets for 5 minutes.
Bake cookies and hearts until pale golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to racks to cool. Snack on tiny heart cookies while waiting.
Dust the tops (the cookies with cutouts) with confectioners’ sugar. Spread jam or Nutella onto the bottoms; then sandwich with sugared tops. Store in an airtight container up to 2 days.