It’s two days before Valentine’s Day and it’s time to make my annual elegant Valentine’s Day dessert. Every year I have high hopes of making some elaborate, romantic dessert, despite the fact that everyone, including myself, knows that I’m more of a “drop-cookie” kind of girl. My pumpkin-shaped Thanksgiving cakes looked like over-grown melons, and I couldn’t get the cinnamon stick stems to stand up right, giving them the look of skewered heads. My Easter lamb cake was top-heavy and ended up looking like decapitated livestock on a tray. My Christmas cookies are not Christmas cookies at all, just the same cookies I make all year long, except with red and green sprinkles. So what comes over me every Valentine’s Day that makes me think I not only should, but can make an elegant dessert? Romance? Cupid? Forgetfulness? Hope springing eternal?
This year I ‘m going for the double whammy – I’ve planned “a delightful heart-shaped flourless chocolate torte, surrounded by a bed of heart-shaped cookies.” I decided to make the cookies first. I get out the Williams Sonoma cookie press, the same cookie press that I’ve put in and taken out of the give-away box at least three times before. I know it doesn’t work and it’s never worked, but gosh darn it, I too want to make festive cookies for every holiday except Hanukkah (sorry, no menorah shape included).
I made the dough according to the directions. It says to shape the dough into a tube and lightly drop it into the cookie press. The dough is all sticky – I can’t get it to shape, it’s sticking to my hands. Maybe if I add more flour. Now I’ve got flour in my hair and on the floor. The dough is no longer sticky – now it’s kind of thick. I try lightly dropping the shaped dough into the press. That’s not working so I start whacking it in with a spoon. Then I place the press on the cookie sheet, push the trigger, and voila – the end of the cookie press falls off on the floor. Now there’s flour and cookie dough on the floor. Okay, starting over. I’ve finally got the end of the cookie press back on. I press out the first heart-shaped cookie, and it’s – a blob. Well, I guess I could eat that one. But the next one’s a blob too, and if I eat all the bad ones…
While the blobs are baking, I start on the torte. The dough whipped up easy enough. I’m pouring it into the heart-shaped pan – this should be a cinch. But wait – it says the pan should have two-inch sides, and I’m
pretty sure my pan is only one-inch tall. I guess I could have one heart-shaped torte and one smaller torte - a torte with a satellite. I get out a little round pan and pour the excess dough in. But now both pans still look too full. I get out another little pan, and now I’m madly spooning the dough from the two pans to even out to the third. Meanwhile the timer is going off because the blobs are done. I’m supposed to clean off the cookie sheet before pressing out another batch of blobs, but that sounds like too much work while I’m up to my elbows in torte batter, so I just get out another cookie sheet.
There, another batch of blobs are in the oven, the three tortes are baking. Looks like they’re rising pretty high – will they make it? I watch the oven anxiously. Even though I have a semi self-cleaning oven, I don’t really want chocolate batter dripping all over it. The tortes rise - they’re poofing up above the pan – I open the oven to whisk them out before the dough pours over the sides. Well, no need to worry about the cakes rising too high any more.
It’s now day two. There is still flour on the floor. Every cookie sheet I own is waiting to be washed. The flourless pancakes, er tortes and the cookie blobs are waiting to be frosted. The heart-shaped torte broke when I took it out of the pan, so now it’s a broken heart. I’m hoping to glue it back together with the frosting.
For some reason the frosting turns out fine. My recipe is in my head and I just add things until it looks right. Why can’t all recipes be like that? But will frosting save this Valentines’ Day dessert debacle? It might if I color it a festive pink.
It’s Valentine’s Day. My kitchen is still a mess. There’s still flour on the floor. But the glued together heart-shaped torte is on the cake plate and doesn’t look too bad. The extra tortes are hidden away in the freezer. The cookie blobs look better now that they’re covered with festive pink frosting. But I’ve learned my lesson: no more fancy Valentine’s Day desserts. No flourless tortes, no heart-shaped anything, nada. And, I’m putting the cookie press in the give-away box. Again.