When I attended school in Philadelphia, Valentine’s Day was a big deal. Everyone bought in candy and cookies and everyone received a card. This of course was because the school didn’t want a single child to feel left out- so if you had one secret admirer in the class then you’d never know as they had to give a card to everybody else too. I don’t rate Valentine’s Day as an important holiday and yet I do remember every almost every one better than I remember most Christmases and birthdays. That said, these memories are mostly not happy ones’ (it is after all a holiday which simply reminds us of how thoughtful or useless our other halves are or how desperately single/unloved we are).
I blame the reason for my undiagnosed secret obsession with Valentines Day on growing up in the States. The day is treated like a holiday over here- candy and cupcakes are sold by the tons; (cut into heart shapes and decorated in pink and red) and advertisers leap at the opportunity to make us feel bad about being alone or worse still being with someone uncaring, who doesn’t think to buy you an impressive diamond rock on this oh so special day. It angers me because I’m sucked in and I too want to make heart shaped cookies and have flowers sent to me by a secret or not-so-secret admirer.
When I went to boarding school in England it was hard to overlook the fact that their approach to Valentine’s Day was somewhat different. At school they actually allowed students to anonymously send turnips to people who they didn’t like! Turnips aside, in England the fun and secrecy of Valentine’s Day still exists where it has commercialised here. Thoughtful as it is to acknowledge everybody, I think I prefer the secrecy (so long as I’m not the one receiving turnips).
I’ve only ever indulged one secret admiree and because it was sealed with a giant heart-shaped cookie it was sort of a give-away that it was from me. I can’t guarantee that this cookie will bring you success (it definitely didn’t in my case) but it won’t be ignored. It’s delightfully chewy and awesomely chocolaty so make sure you REALLY like this person before you consider letting it out of your sight.
/>Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes one large heart (preferably unbroken) or 18 chocolate chip cookies – if you take the American approach and don’t like to leave anyone out.
100g/4 oz self-raising flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt
100g/4 oz butter
50g/2 oz soft brown sugar
50g/2 oz demerara sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
140g/5 oz chocolate, chopped (quality of chocolate should depend on how much you like the person)
85g/3 oz toasted walnuts, chopped
1/ Preheat the oven to 350F/180C/gas 4. In a food processor, pulse the oats until roughly broken down. Add the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt and blitz to combine.
2/ In a bowl, cream together the butter and sugars before beating in the egg and vanilla.
3/ Stir in the chocolate and nuts followed by the oat mixture.
4/ Between large sheets of wax paper or greased parchment paper roll the cookie mixture into a large round the cut around the outsides to make a heart shape. Make sure that the shape is exaggerated, as it will spread slightly on baking it. (I like to form the scraps into balls and place in the freezer to add to ice cream or just for a quick sweet tooth fix, but you could just bake them off so you don’t miss out on the fun!)
5/ If you are not making a heart form 18 small balls of mixture and bake for 15 minutes or until firm on cookie sheets (they will spread so give lots of room). If you’re making the heart this will take approximately 20-25 minutes (but you will need to keep an eye on it because it will depend on how thin you rolled it). If the cookie spreads too much it could be because the oven is too hot- but for now just reshape the cake using a paring knife before or after it has cooled.