Aaah, heart-shaped cookies.
Is anything else quite so smarmy and cute?
Especially with you-know-what coming up soon.
I generally avoid V-Day, as a rule.
I am trying to formulate a really good reason why, but honestly I just don't care about one day a year overflowing with pink and sugary sweet tidings of love.
Give me any excuse to bake a cookie, though, and I will jump at the opportunity.
Last year it was chocolate sugar cookies.
Love. Love. Love playing in decorating sugar and novelty sprinkles.
This year we're going classy and upmarket with a monochromatic theme and an orange flower water and custard cream filling.
They may be hearts, but don't hold it against them, they're tasty cookies any time you want a little cute smarmy lovin'.
For the Custard Cookies.
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup Bird's Custard Powder*
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick)
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/4 cup superfine sugar
1 egg, beaten lightly
* This is one of those British ingredients that we simply don't have an equivelent for here in the US. You can find Bird's Custard Powder online, and it's so useful to have around for instant gratification when you absolutely need to pour custard over cake or fruit right away...which happens more often than I'd like to admit around here.
You will need a food processor, a 2-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter, a rolling pin, and a cookie sheet lined with baking paper.
Mix the flour, custard powder and baking powder together and put into a food processor with the butter, cut into pieces, and the vegetable shortening, scooped in as spoonfulls. Pulse until combined and the mixture forms a crumbly texture.
Add the sugar and pulse again, and with the processor running drizzle in the egg until the cookie dough comes together and clumps into a ball. You may not need to add all of the egg.
Put the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and press into a disk, then wrap completely and refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes. The dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
When ready to bake, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface until it is approximately 1/4 inch thick. Dip the cookie cutter into flour and cut out a heart. Repeat as necessary to keep the dough from sticking. Make an even number of hearts. You can make about 24 from the first episode of cookie cutting, and an additional 10 to 12 if you re-roll the remaining scraps in a second round. The dough will need to be refrigerated before you roll it out the second time.
Space the cookies about 1/2 inch apart on a baking paper-lined cookie sheet. You should be able to fit the first 24 on a single cookie tray. Bake additional cookies in a later batch.
Bake for 15 minutes, until the cookies are gently puffed and just starting to color.
Cool on the cookie sheet for 15 minutes, then remove gently to a rack to finish cooling.
To make the orange flower custard creme, mix the custard powder and confectioner's sugar and add to a food processor with the vegetable shortening. Process until you get a smooth creme, then add the orange flower water and pulse until combined.
When the cookies are completely cool, gently spread 3 to 4 teaspoons of the custard creme on the bottom side of a cookie, and wiggle a second cookie into place on top, bottom side onto the frosting. The cookies are very delicate, so avoid pressing forcefully or they may break.
Cookies can be stored at room temperature, and last for 2 to 3 days in an airtight container.