The Effect of Valentine’s Day on Shortbread Cookies

February 24, 2021
a collection of shortbread cookies with heart shapes in the middle
Art by Kim Salac

As the Pinterest app opens on my phone, I appreciate the ease with which I can search and browse a seemingly infinite supply of thumbprint cookie recipes. 

Not endless, however, is my supply of butter, so after skimming an alluring recipe, I opt to cut it in half. After waiting not long enough for the butter to soften, I aggressively combine it with sugar (my arm workout for the week) and then begin the only process that makes me feel like a true chef: separating the egg yolk and the egg white. The egg, at first industrial, withstands all blows to the side of the bowl, but eventually breaks. It is a messy procedure, but flawless. The yolk falls into the bowl. 

After washing my hands of the matter, I seek out the vanilla extract, but quickly realize there is none. I despair. The show must go on. I add half a teaspoon of vanilla coffee syrup during what is not my finest moment, along with half the salt the recipe calls for because I only believe in using salted butter.

 

The egg, at first industrial, withstands all blows to the side of the bowl, but eventually breaks. It is a messy procedure, but flawless. The yolk falls into the bowl. 

 

I spoon the flour into the measuring cup with the broken handle and level off the top before I add it to the bowl. The recipe warns me it will be crumbly and I take little heed, only to realize “crumbly” is an understatement. Without an electric mixer, it is me and my silicone spoon against the world. I emerge triumphant when the dough begins to take shape. I measure out tablespoons to roll into balls, and then coat with sugar. These spheres rest on the parchment paper-covered baking sheet. 

 

Without an electric mixer, it is me and my silicone spoon against the world. I emerge triumphant when the dough begins to take shape.

 

Now the most important part of the recipe—the namesake, “thumbprint.” Equivalent to when you hear a movie title during the film. However, the width of my thumb is much too broad to achieve the desired effect. I delicately press my pinky finger into the cookie dough twice, to create a heart shape. I fill it with the strawberry jam I do not like but desperately need to use prior to allowing myself the pleasure of purchasing a replacement. 

They go into the oven for 12 minutes, and once my iPhone timer blares, I remove them. I am disappointed with a few, but I like the rest just fine. 

Though it may be a far cry from the box of Valentines my parents would buy me from CVS to distribute amongst my elementary school class, a Tupperware of cookies for my sweetheart will just have to do. 

 

 

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