For you, Valentine
I love Valentine's Day. I could care less about its supposed 'Hallmark-ization'. Bah. Dreary February is the perfect time of year for a holiday, especially one expressly for the celebration of love.
When we first started dating, Brian didn't even know on which day of the year Valentine's Day falls. 'It's sometime in February, right?' Well, he has since come around a little bit. In fact, he is in the kitchen as I type prepping for our dinner of Yellow Finn Potato Gnocchi with Beet-Merlot Reduction, Roasted Beets and Walnuts from The Artful Vegan cookbook. Isn't he sweet? You see, February 14th is the one night of the year when Brian cooks for me. We call it 'Valentine's Day', but you could go with 'Opposite Day' and no one would call you a liar. I find it so romantic. It's even better than my birthday.
Another reason I love Valentine's Day is because of all the fancy, celebratory desserts that go along with it. Store-bought chocolates are a bore, but beautiful cookies and homemade treats make me swoon. This year, I decided to make simple Conversation Heart cookies as an homage to the Valentine's staple that we all remember from our childhoods. I tried to recreate the sugary pastel colors and the sometimes cringe-inducing sayings like 'TOO HOT' or 'PAGE ME' imprinted on those beloved Sweethearts. Love them or hate them, they're not going away.
I used the sugar cookie recipe from The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick Goudreau. I can't recommend this cookbook enough. If you're a baking traditionalist like me, this book has all the recipes you grew up on, but without the use of animal products. Everything I've made has turned out fantastically. If you're skeptical and don't feel like buying the book, there are a ton of similar sugar cookie recipes available online. Here's one.
I also used Colleen's recipe for royal icing. It calls for a touch of almond extract which gives it a better flavor than traditional royal icing which basically just tastes like sugar glue. Warning: Royal icing's resemblance to glue is not a deceptive coincidence. It is very, very sticky. I dropped a pastry knife full of it when I was icing these cookies and it landed on my dog. Poor little dude.
By far the cheeziest trend in Conversation Hearts sayings I witnessed this year is the infiltration of 'text speak'. Like 'UR KIND' and 'U R A 10'. Ouch. And it may be because I am completely oblivious to the world of online social simulation gaming (Read: old and out of touch), but I just completely do not understand this one: 'BE MY ICON'. What? Anyone?