Shopping for Valentine’s Day is easy when your sweetheart has a sweet tooth. From chocolate boxes to Conversation Hearts, confections are associated with romance this time of year. But not everyone wants to wake up from a sugar coma on February 15. For a more nuanced Valentine’s Day treat, try this rosemary shortbread recipe from the Institute of Culinary Education.
These heart-shaped cookies strike the perfect balance of sweet and savory. Honey adds a full-bodied sweetness, while the addition of fresh rosemary and kosher salt creates a flavor profile you don’t normally find in pastries.
The recipe consists of just six ingredients, and it comes together in four easy steps. After preheating the oven to 350°F, pulse together the flour, sugar, chopped rosemary, and salt in a food processor. Mix in the cubed, cold butter and honey. ICE’s lead recreational chef-instructor Roger Sitrin likes to use dark, high-quality honey for these cookies. “I try to use honey that is a little bit darker,” he tells Mental Floss. “It has a stronger flavor, a little more pronounced flavor, than just the regular golden blossom, which is a very mild-flavored honey.”
Once the dough has just come together, press it into heart-shaped ring molds on a lined baking sheet. Because the cookies contain so much butter, they must remain in the molds while they bake to keep from spreading out. Prick them all over with a fork and bake until golden brown.
According to Sitrin, you should be able to smell the cookies turning golden brown before you open the oven. “Golden brown not only looks golden brown, but it smells very toasty. You smell it and you see it. So it has to have that nice toasty smell to it as well,” he says.
The cookies’ romantic shape makes them a great Valentine’s gift for anyone whose palate has matured past candy. But as long as you have the right ring molds, you can bake them into any shape. Give the regular round version as a platonic gift later in the year (or bake a whole sheet for yourself one night just because).
Whether you’re changing careers or you want to continue your education in the culinary arts, the Institute of Culinary Education offers classes to fit your needs. You can browse the courses offered at their campuses in New York and Los Angeles here.
Rosemary Shortbread Cookies
Yield: 12 cookies
2 cups all-purpose flour
⅔ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon kosher salt
8 ounces unsalted cold butter, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 teaspoons honey
- Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
- In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse together flour, sugar, rosemary, and salt. Add butter and honey. Pulse until you get a fine crumb, then pulse a few more times until the dough just begins to come together. Dough should not be completely smooth.
- Set heart shape ring molds on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Press the dough into the molds. Do not remove the molds. Prick dough all over with a fork. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.
- Cool on sheet pan and remove the molds from the hearts while the cookies are still warm.