Surprise your valentine with one of these homemade treats as a sweet way to say “I love you.” Choose from heart-shaped brownies, conversation cookies, and more.
Heart Sandwich Cookies
The pink hearts are made from a sugar-cookie dough; the chocolate hearts are a little denser. These charming sandwich cookies contain a filling that will remind you of an Oreo. It’s creamy, but granulated sugar gives it a tender crunch.
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for parchment
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (spooned and leveled)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg
1. Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir together butter, sugar, and egg. Add flour mixture to butter mixture, and stir to combine. Knead until a dough forms. Divide dough in half; roll out each half between 2 sheets of lightly floured parchment to 1/8-inch thick. Transfer to baking sheets, and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees with racks in upper and lower thirds. Cut out 1-, 1 1/2-, and 2-inch heart shapes, making sure you have even numbers in each size for a total of thirty-four 1-inch, thirty-four 1 1/2-inch, and twenty-eight 2-inch cookies, rerolling scraps once. Place cookies 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets, and freeze until very firm, about 15 minutes.
3. Bake until firm and fragrant, about 8 minutes for 1-inch cookies, 10 minutes for 1 1/2-inch cookies, and 12 minutes for 2-inch cookies, rotating halfway through. Let cookies cool completely on baking sheets set on wire racks. Spread or pipe (using a pastry bag and a small plain tip), filling onto bottom side of half the cookies, and sandwich with remaining cookies, pressing gently. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.
Conversation Heart Cookies
Once iced, these cookies need to dry completely overnight before being stamped with a message for your sweetheart.
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Gel-paste food coloring (such as leaf green, lemon yellow, peach, red, rose, and violet)
1. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Cream butter and sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy. With mixer running, add egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture gradually, beating until just incorporated. Divide dough in half; flatten each half into a disk, and wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour (or overnight).
2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees with racks in top third and lower third. Let 1 disk of dough stand at room temperature just until soft enough to roll, about 10 minutes. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to just under 1/4-inch thickness, adding more flour as needed to keep dough from sticking. Cut out cookies with a 2-inch heart cutter, and place them 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roll out scraps once, and repeat. Repeat with remaining disk of dough. Freeze cookies until very firm, about 15 minutes.
3. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through and switching from top to bottom, until edges turn golden brown, 14 to 16 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks. Cookies will keep, covered, for up to 1 week.
4. Divide royal icing into 1/2-cup portions in small bowls. Tint each with a different gel-paste food coloring, starting with just a drop, mixing well, and adding more, drop by drop, to reach desired shade. Transfer 1 bowl of icing to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/8-inch round plain tip. Pipe the outline around edge of each cookie, then fill in with frosting. Poke air bubbles with a toothpick. Transfer decorated cookies to a parchment-lined baking sheet, and let stand uncovered overnight until dry.
5. Arrange stamp letters to create desired phrases. (We stamped LUV U, UR A QT, BFF, LYLAS, B MINE, and 2GTBT.) Fold a paper towel into quarters. Squeeze a small amount of red gel-paste food coloring onto a paper towel, and press stamp in coloring. (You may need to blot stamp a few times on a clean paper towel if coloring is too thick.) Lightly press stamp on top of icing in center of each cookie. Let stand until dry, about 30 minutes. Stamped cookies will keep, covered, for up to 3 days.
Heart-Glazed Cornmeal Cookies
These crispy cornmeal cookies make the prettiest treat for Valentine’s Day. A heart-shaped cookie cutter is pressed into each round just to create an impression. Once baked, the hearts are spread with pink glaze.
2 cups all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 to 2 drops red or pink food coloring
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and 1/2 cup granulated sugar on medium-high until creamy, 3 minutes. Add egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla and beat until combined. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture and beat to combine.
2. Place 1/4 cup granulated sugar in a small bowl; roll dough into 1-inch balls and coat with sugar. Transfer to two parchment-lined baking sheets. With the bottom of a glass, flatten balls to 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Press a 1-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter into each (do not cut through). Bake until cookies are golden at edges, 10 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let cookies cool on wire racks.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together confectioners’ sugar, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 3/4 teaspoons cold water. Whisk in food coloring. With a small spoon, spread glaze inside heart. Let set 15 minutes.
Whoopie Hearts with Raspberry Meringue
When piped into a V shape, this chocolaty batter bakes into a heart for a Valentine’s Day treat.
To create perfect hearts, form the letter V: Start by piping a three-inch diagonal line downward. Pipe another one to meet it. (The tops are about three inches wide.)
1. Pour whoopie-pie batter into a gallon-size resealable plastic bag (work in two batches). Snip a 1/2-inch hole in one corner of bag. Pipe Vs onto parchment-lined baking sheets, spaced 2 inches apart. Bake and cool. Thaw frozen raspberries in a sieve set over a bowl; press to extract 1/4 cup juice. Beat meringue into stiff, glossy peaks, then stir in juice. Transfer to another gallon-size resealable plastic bag. Snip a 1/2-inch hole in one corner. Pipe filling onto flat sides of half of cookies, then sandwich with remaining cookies.
Brownie Hearts and Brownie Bites
After you cut out the hearts, roll the brownie leftovers into bite-size morsels. Once coated with cocoa or sugar, they resemble truffles. You’ll get about 44 bites.
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
Confectioners’ sugar, colored sugar, cocoa, or crushed toffee bits, for decoration
If you don’t have a heart-shaped cutter, you can cut the brownies into squares or other shapes.
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan; cut a piece of waxed paper to fit the bottom, and press it onto the buttered surface. In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine butter, brown sugar, and chocolate. Microwave on high for 1 minute; stir. If the chocolate is not softened, continue to microwave at 10-second intervals, removing before it’s completely melted.
2. Beat eggs and vanilla into the melted chocolate with a wooden spoon. Beat in flour and salt. Pour batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool.
3. Run a knife around the edge of the pan. Turn the brownie cake out onto a baking sheet, and flip over onto a work surface. Cut out the brownies with a 2 1/2-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter. Dust with cocoa if you like. Form the scraps into 1-inch balls, and roll them in the coating of your choice.
Heart Sandwich Cookies
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for rolling
1/3 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate-hazelnut spread or jam
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread oats on a rimmed baking sheet; bake until golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl; stir in flours and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar on medium until fluffy. Add vanilla; beat to combine. Scrape down bowl. Add oat mixture; beat until blended. Form dough into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, 2 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough 1/8 inch thick, dusting lightly with flour as needed. Cut out cookies with a 2-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter; place 1/2 inch apart on two parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until cookies are golden around edges, 12 to 15 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let cool 5 minutes, then transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough, chilling if too soft (reroll and cut scraps). Spread filling on flat side of half the cookies; top with remaining cookies.
These petits fours conceal a honeyed, cakey interior beneath a crisp, crackly surface embellished by hand with hearts of raspberry puree.
Vegetable oil, cooking spray
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/3 cup honey
2 cups sliced blanched almonds (6 1/2 ounces), lightly toasted and finely ground
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup sifted cake flour (not self-rising)
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 large egg whites
1 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen), pureed and strained (1/2 cup)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat mini muffin tins with cooking spray.
2. Heat butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, whisking frequently, until golden brown, 6 to 7 minutes. Add honey, and whisk until combined. Remove from heat.
3. Using a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine almonds, sugars, flour, and salt on low speed. Raise speed to medium-high, and add egg whites, one at a time, beating after each addition until just combined. Scrape down sides of bowl. Reduce speed to low, and add warm butter-honey mixture in a slow, steady stream. Raise speed to high, and beat for 45 seconds.
4. Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling each halfway. Spoon a scant 1/2 teaspoon raspberry puree near one edge of each cup. Draw a skewer or the tip of a paring knife through puree toward opposite edge of cup to form a heart shape.
5. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until edges are golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool slightly in tins on wire racks. Using a small offset spatula, carefully unmold financiers, and transfer to rack. Financiers are best served warm or the same day they are baked, but they can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature for up to 3 days. If desired, serve or package financiers in decorative paper liners.
If you can’t say it with a cookie, say it with a drink.