Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentine's Special: Walnuts and Rose Petals Cookies

Valentine's cookies, colorful and tasty
Valentine's day is upon us. Despite the commercial aspect of this day, I kind of like it. In fact, I believe we need to set aside at least one day during the year to celebrate love, humanity's most talked about and sought after feeling. Love is a creative force and it is in this mindset I decided to pay tribute to this day the best way I know how: baking.
Cookies can be shaped however you like

Whether you are in love or still on the lookout for that special someone who will make your heart jump, I recommend you treat yourself (and your significant other) with this sweet cookies packed with flavors that will surely evoke your senses.

Baked cookies are not a novelty, they have been around since the earliest times, but with time they got more refined and incorporated more complex flavors. Early Middle Eastern civilizations prepared cookies using dough to which they incorporated  butter, cream, nuts, honey and fruits as sweeteners.

As the Arabs invaded Spain, establishing Al-Andalus (Andalusia), they brought with them the tradition of making cookies which spread to Northern Europe and from Europe all the way to the USA. The rest is history.
Cookies now are so diverse, versatile and flexible that you spend a lifetime and still learn a thing or two about them every day.

Back to Valentine. I wanted to make something simple, inexpensive, yet packed with flavor that evoke and overwhelm your senses and of course inspired by this special's day. What speaks of Valentine more than roses? It's the flower of choice for most lovers.

Not all rose petals are edible or have a special aromatic flavor, but the Damask Rose or the Damascus Rose (Rosa damascena) is highly prized for its enchanting scent. It is widely used to prepare rose water, and rose oil. I frequently use the dried petals to give a delicate flavor to my baking.  For these special Valentine cookies these rose petals fit the bill perfectly, especially when they are combined with walnuts and cinnamon.

Grind the mix in a blender until it has a sandy texture

So here's what you will need to make these cookies (makes about 10 to 12 cookies)

  • 150 g flour
  • 75 g cold butter
  • 50 g sugar
  • 20 g slightly toasted walnuts
  • 5 g Damascus rose dried petals
  • One tsp cinnamon
  • dash of salt
  • 20 to 40 ml of liquid (you can use cold water, cream or milk, I used cream). 
Start by combining the petals, walnuts, sugar and cinnamon in a food processor, process until you obtain a sandy mixture, set aside.
Flatten your dough and cut it

In the food processor, combine flour, salt and butter and process for few seconds. When well combined, add the rose and walnut mixture, mix, and now start adding the liquid gradually, when you see that the dough is coming together stop adding the liquid. The amount of liquids absorbed depends on the flour and the water in the butter you are using.
Undecorated cookies still look great

Form the dough into a disk shape and leave in the fridge to rest for at least an hour.

Cut the dough in the shape you desire and put again in the fridge for at least half an hour, then bake it in a preheated over (180C) between 10 to 15 min. When the edges are slowly golden then it´s ready.

If you want you can decorate them as you wish. Personally  I was inspired by Amber Spiegel's motifs.  I flooded the cookies with royal icing, then dropped some fondant rose petals before the royal icing was allowed to set. The petals, however, were made earlier and left to dry a bit. The heart-shaped cookies were flooded and then I did some embroidery on them. I am still new in decorating cookies but I am determined to succeed and perfect my techniques and skills.

Happy Valentine´s day! Surprise your loved ones with this thoughtful and coming from the heart gesture.

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