Friday, February 14, 2014

Samantha’s Valentine’s Cookies

A guaranteed hit sugar cookie with a fruity twist!

Ah, Valentine's Day. Love it or hate it, you probably have an opinion on it one way or the other. I have to admit, I'm more in the neutral territory on this one. It's far and away not my favorite holiday of the year, but I don't spend the entire day scowling wishing it was over, and I don't begrudge those who want to go all out for it.

This recipe definitely isn't going all out for Valentine's, but it still seemed like a fun way to spice up a sugar cookie, and while it's not a wholly authentic Edwardian or Victorian recipe, it still seemed like it had enough in common with Samantha's jam tart cookies (some of you might remember them as the disaster cookies) that she was the obvious choice to host this particular recipe.

There are other reasons why Sam gets to host this post, such as...

Like Kit and Thanksgiving, Samantha is the only character whose main six book series focuses on Valentine's Day. Changes for Samantha starts with Sam and Aunt Cornelia constructing some valentines for Grandmary and her new husband, and ends on Valentine's Day with Gard and Cornelia offering to adopt Sam's best friend Nellie and her two younger sisters. Felicity also got a short story - Felicity's Valentine - that was only available in Felicity's Short Story Collection, instead of being released as an individual book like most of the other short stories were because Felicity was beginning to get phased out when Kaya was introduced and missed one of the short story releases. With the release of her movie and the soft reboot of her collection by adding an Elizabeth doll and several new outfits and accessories, she did get a short story in the fifth set, and so to keep things even with the other characters in the bound editions of the short stories, she got an extra one added in.

Anyway, Sam seems to be the character who gets the most attention when it comes to Valentine's Day, and I don't think anyone should be too surprised to hear it both because of the personal significance the holiday has for her family, and also because is there really a more Victorian holiday than Valentine's? Samantha's valentines are frilly, lacy and have lots of ribbon on them, which pretty much summarizes a lot of things about carry overs from the Victorian age. Instead of purchasing store bought cards or just cutting out red paper hearts, Sam and Cornelia plan on taking scraps of lace, ribbon and cloth and other trinkets to create a unique card for their loved ones. We actually have a couple examples of approximately Samantha-aged valentines at the museum I interned with for two years, and it's super interesting to see how seamlessly people could make collages out of newspaper and magazine art to make a unique card for someone they cared about.

Our recipe comes from Martha, and can be found here! As you can see, the original recipe makes a lot of dough. I've been feeling kind of guilty because I've made a lot of desserts this past week and there haven't been too many people around to help eat them, which puts a lot of pressure on us... and our waistlines.

Fortunately, this recipe was pretty easy to cut in half. I hate when a recipe leaves you with weird measurements when you try to reduce it, and this one was refreshingly simple. The dough itself was also refreshingly simple to make, and the only thing that struck me as being different from other sugar cookie doughs I've done is the fact that it used buttermilk!

The dough gets wrapped in plastic and is left to sit in the fridge for about an hour, or over night if you don't feel like making the cookies right that second. I don't mind letting dough sit for a while. It gives you some time to breathe and do some other stuff, and I don't mind that kind of break after a week of making lots of food.

It gives you some time to catch up on your reading.

The dough was pretty easy to work with once it came out of the fridge. I was also excited to discover that we had two heart shaped cookie cutters that were the exact same size, except one had another smaller heart shape on the inside, which gave me exactly the shapes I needed to make the jam sandwiches!

The one bad thing was that some of the hollowed out hearts didn't hold their shape as well when you pried them off the counter top, but they still looked okay. I dusted the hollowed out hearts with superfine sugar as instructed, but also put a little pink sugar on a couple to try and give them some color. The full hearts I left alone since they were supposed to be the bottom part of the sandwich.

Ten minutes turned out to be the perfect amount of time to bake them. Since they were supposed to be thin cookies, most were more crunchy than chewy or cakey, but I didn't mind. They had great flavor and were perfectly golden on the bottoms.

The shapes did warp a little more in the oven, which presented a tiny bit of a problem when it came to making them into sandwiches.

You can use any kind of jam you want for the filling, but since these are valentine cookies, I wanted something red. I ended up using strawberry rubarb jam, and I think it was a pretty awesome choice to go with.

Unlike the jam tart cookies, this recipe suggested heating the jam up a little to make it easier to work with and shape the way you want it to. It really worked, and I'm glad it did, because I remember that being another slight frustration with the jam tart cookies. This helped the jam get smooth and really easy to manipulate.

To make the sandwich, you take the full heart and brush jam all over the bottom of the cookie. You then place one of the hollow hearts on top of the jam covered bottom cookie, and then carefully spoon in as much jam as you want into the hollow made by the hollowed out heart.

The effect is really nice, and I would imagine a plate that had cookies with a bunch of different kinds of jam would look super pretty, even for a non Valetine's Day event. This could easily be adapted to other holidays or parties as long as you had the right cookie cutter, and mixing and matching a few might be fun, too!

I was able to use most of the dough to make the bigger sized cookies, and wound up with about eight or nine of the full sandwiches. My cookie cutters were definitely on the big side though, so I would imagine if you have smaller ones you could probably stretch the halved recipe a little farther.

I did, however, wind up with about four hollowed out hearts and two full hearts that just weren't going to match up with each other to make a pretty cookie. The shapes were too warped while baking to match up as well as the other ones did, but that was totally fine by me. Along with some little baby hearts I made out of the scraps of left over dough, they gave the finished product a really nice look on the plate. The eclectic different shapes kind of reminded me of the home made valentines Samantha would have made, and I especially enjoyed them once I arranged them in my new heart shaped baking dish, a gift from my grandma!

I don't think I've been coy about how these tasted. They were delicious! The first bite reminded me of a sugar cookie I remember eating a long time ago, but can't remember where or when. Don't you hate when that happens? It just feels like something that you'd enjoyed years ago, but you have no idea what or when or who gave it to you. Anyway, the thicker cookies had a nicer overall texture to them - I'm not a huge huge fan of crunchy cookies? Like I'll eat them with enthusiasm because cookies, but having some chew is good - and the jam was definitely tasty. They weren't especially messy cookies to eat either, which I enjoy. A cookie that's going to drip on you or stick to your fingers isn't a good cookie to me, because they're supposed to be something you can eat without a fork, so I was very pleased it passed that test.

Basically, these cookies were a hit. The dough itself is a great sugar cookie base, and my mom has already said she thinks she wants to make this our official sugar cookie dough because the one we had been working with she's never been 100% sold on. The cookies look great on a plate and taste delicious with or without the jam, so I really don't think you can go wrong with these. If you're looking for something a little festive and not particularly difficult to spice up your Hallmark holiday, give them a shot!

And whether you love it or hate it, I hope you had a happy Valentine's Day!


  1. I will definitely give this recipe a try! I am always on the hunt for a delicious sugar cookie recipe. Thanks! I love your blog!

    1. You're quite welcome! I hope you enjoy the cookies!

  2. These look super good and your cookies turned out beautiful looking! I'm currently in the middle of cooking a soup from Molly's cookbook, so I had to see if you posted anything new while I wait!

    1. Thank you! How did it turn out? I've been meaning to try something out from her cookbook but haven't gotten around to it yet.

  3. It was delicious! I changed a couple of things so it was more spicy, but I'd definitely make it again. I think it was her Victory Garden Soup or something like that.

    1. Awesome! I'll definitely have to add that to the list of recipes to do. Glad it turned out well. :D

  4. My favorite sugar cookie uses cream cheese in it, but I am intrigued by the buttermilk. We may have to try these next time there's some around! Thanks for the recommendation.

    For shaped cookies you might try refrigerating them for 10-20 minutes before baking next time you use the recipe. That usually helps cookie cutter shapes retain their sharp edges and sizes when baked. It doesn't work with every recipe, but it's worth a shot as an experiment for when uniform cookies are needed.

    1. Thanks for the advice, I'll definitely give it a shot! Hopefully I'll be able to make room in the fridge to get it a shot next time ahaha.

      It doesn't use too much buttermilk, so I'd definitely recommend having a couple recipes that need it on the docket if you decide to go for it because it doesn't have the longest shelf life. Otherwise, no complaints! It made a really good cookie.

  5. Yes, always looking for recipes to use up leftover buttermilk from cake making. We can only eat so many pancakes or biscuits! LOL

    1. I definitely hear that! I still need to figure out what to do with the rest of the carton I have in my fridge, ahaha.