I couldn’t let Valentine’s day go by without a sneaky wee cookie box. Personally I’m not a giant fan of Valentine’s day, but what I do really love is making super cute pink stuff, so here we are! My friend Chelsea reached out a while back and asked if I wanted to do a wee valentine’s day collab with some macarons, so I roped in Jase and we took it one step further and came up with this epic Valentine’s themed treat box! We each did a bunch of prep the day before, then got together and put it all together, hung out, and took 12 zillion photos. It was the best day.
Jase and I made Dark Chocolate and Raspberry Macarons (classic v day flavour, chocolate and berries), and then some meringue kisses, which are super easy to make - the recipe makes loads, and they keep for a super long time. We also tried our hand at making some soft caramels, which turned out beautifully. We made an earl grey version, and I’m now hooked on making them and can’t wait to make more in the future. Finally, we also made some super cute marshmallow hearts, flavoured with a freeze dried raspberry powder.
Chelsea brought Sugar cookies, linzers, and chocolate sandwich cookies. She ices the cookies with royal icing and then paints on them with edible paint - I am totally, totally blown away by her talent. She did some wee heart cookies which became little conversation hearts, and then made THE most amazing, detailed, valentine’s themed cookies I have ever, ever seen. She chatted away while she just casually painted macarons, a task which would have me hiding in the corner in tears five seconds in. She’s also just an amazing human being, and will be opening a bakeshop in the near future. I am so excited for her, but also so, so grateful that I am lucky enough to call so many amazingly talented people my friends! Yay to more collabs in the future!
Here’s what we ended up with:
Earl Grey caramels
Vanilla bean Meringue Kisses
Raspberry Heart Shaped Marshmallows
Linzer Cookies with Raspberry Jam (Chelsea brought these but I have included a version below)
Dark Chocolate and Raspberry Macarons - Recipe Here
Chocolate Sandwich Cookies (This recipe, but without any leavener, and filled with extra buttercream from the macarons)
A few wee tips:
The key to a good Cookie box (in my opinion), is choosing one colour and sticking with it as a theme throughout. We went with pink for valentine’s day.
We did all the prep work the day beforehand, then put it together and shot it the next day!
Make sure you plan out your cookie box before you start so that you have a good mixture of things - I like to do a combination of cookies but also little sweet treaty things such as as the caramels and the meringue kisses
A good way of making things a little easier on yourself is to make some components that can be used in a few places - for example, the jam and the buttercream from the macarons can be used to fill the linzers and chocolate cookies.
Here is the box we used - I got Rich to make us some dividers on the laser cutter.
Earl Grey Caramels
- Makes about 160 caramels -
Recipe Adapted from ‘Candy Is Magic’ by Jami Curl
Earl Grey Cream
300g Heavy Cream
30g Loose leaf Earl grey tea
438g Glucose syrup or light corn syrup
220g Earl Grey Cream
8g Kosher Salt
2g Vanilla bean powder (I used Heilala)
330g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 1 inch cubes
- PROCESS -
EARL GREY CREAM
Place the heavy cream in a small saucepan, and heat over low to medium heat until just shy of a simmer. Add the loose leaf tea, cover the pot, and steep for 20 minutes. Strain the cream through a fine mesh sieve, pressing down on the tea to get as much liquid out as possible. Clean out the saucepan, wipe dry, and measure 220g of the cream into the saucepan. Place over a low heat until ready to use. If you are making ahead, store in an airtight container in the fridge, then rewarm when ready to use.
Butter a 9” x 13” pan and have nearby.
Place the corn syrup or glucose into a large heavy bottomed saucepan (It is easiest to weigh directly into the pan). Heat over medium high, until it begins to bubble. Swirl the pot occasionally to prevent any hot spots
Sprinkle in a third of the sugar, and, using a spatula or wooden spoon, poke the sugar so it is covered by the corn syrup. Do not stir at any time. Once all of the sugar has been covered, add the second third, and repeat the poking process. Repeat with the final third of sugar.
Place the cream into a small saucepan and place over low heat. Add the salt and vanilla bean powder.
Cook the corn syrup and sugar mixture, swirling the pot occasionally, until it is dark amber in colour. This should take around 13 to 15 minutes. Do not walk away from the caramel - it is important you watch it carefully so you can swirl the pot as needed to distribute the heat and ensure even cooking.
Once the mixture is dark amber, remove from the heat, and add in the earl grey cream mixture, followed by the butter. Using a large whisk, whisk the mixture for 5 minutes, until it is completely emulsified. Make sure you whisk for the full 5 minutes to ensure this.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, and allow to set for at least 3 hours, or ideally overnight.
To cut, prepare a chopping board and sharp knife. Carefully lift the caramel out of the pan - I found it was easiest to start in one corner and slowly work my way out. Use a ruler to mark the caramel - we did approximately 1 1/2 “ by 3/4” pieces, but you can cut however you like - 1” squares work great too.
Wrap the caramels in wax paper or cellophane squares - we used wax paper squares.
Vanilla Bean Meringue Kisses
- Makes about 60 meringue kisses, or about 24 nests -
Note: This recipe is very scaleable - the ratio of egg whites to sugar is 1:1.5, so adjust to your liking. Because the meringues are essentially ‘dried’ rather than cooked, you can pipe various sizes and bake all together.
200g egg whites
300g granulated sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste
Pink Gel Food colouring (Optional)
- PROCESS -
Preheat the oven to 225˚f / 110˚c. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Fit two large piping bags with your tip of choice (I used an Ateco #826).
Measure the egg whites and granulated sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer or other heatproof bowl. Place over a pot of simmering water, ensuring that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Heat the mixture, whisking often and watching the edges carefully, until it no longer feels gritty when rubbed between your fingers, and it registers at least 70˚c / 160˚f on a thermometer.
Carefully transfer to a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add the vanilla. Whip on high speed until stiff peaks form, approximately 4-5 minutes. Transfer half to a to piping bag, then colour the remainder with a few drops of gel food colouring, mix to incorporate, and transfer to the second piping bag.
Use a few small blobs of meringue to secure the parchment paper to the baking sheet. Pipe 'kisses', onto the baking paper lined sheets, leaving a small amount of space between each (they will not spread in the oven). You can pipe whatever shape you would like here - blobs, nests, kisses etc.
Place the baking sheets into the oven. Bake for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until they feel firm and no longer sticky, and peel cleanly off the paper when you lift them up. Turn off the oven, and leave them in there for at least an additional hour to dry out and crisp up.
Store in an airtight container until ready to use.
- Makes one 13” x 9” pan of marshmallows -
35g (1/4 cup) powdered sugar
35g (1/4 cup) Corn Starch
75g cold water
14g (2 sachets) powdered gelatine
75g cold water
106 g light corn syrup
1 tablespoon (18g) vanilla bean paste, or 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved
20g freeze-dried raspberry powder (we used Freshas brand)
- PROCESS -
Sift together the powdered sugar and corn starch. Set aside - this will be used to dust the pan.
Grease a 9” x 13” quarter sheet pan with butter, and dust with marshmallow dust. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine 75 grams water with the powdered gelatine. Combine well and leave to bloom while you prepare the sugar syrup.
In a medium sized heavy bottom saucepan, heat the second measure of water, granulated sugar, light corn syrup, vanilla bean paste, and freeze dried raspberry powder. Cook, stirring occasionally, until a candy thermometer registers 240˚f (116˚c). Remove from the heat, and allow to cool to 210˚f (99˚c).
Turn the mixer to medium speed, and allow it to break up the gelatine slightly. Carefully stream in the sugar syrup mixture. Increase the speed to high, and beat until the marshmallow has doubled in volume, holds a small peak, and is fluffy, 5 to 7 minutes. Working quickly, scrape into the prepared pan, and smooth down with a lightly oiled offset spatula. Dust with additional marshmallow dust, and allow to cure for at least 3 hours.
Dust a work surface with marshmallow dust, and turn the marshmallow onto it. Using a heart cutter of your desired size, cut out heart mallows, dusting the cutter with marshmallow dust as needed.
Store in an airtight container until ready to use.
Shortbread Linzer Cookies
- Makes approximately 18 sandwich cookies, depending on size -
Shortbread Roll-out Cookies
180g unsalted butter, at room temperature
65g powdered sugar, sifted
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
265 g all-purpose flour
Powdered sugar to dust
Raspberry Quick Jam
375g frozen raspberries
400g granulated sugar
- PROCESS -
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla bean paste on high speed until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Add the flour, and mix on low until just combined.
Dump the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, and press out into a rectangle. Wrap tightly, and refrigerate for at least two hours, or overnight, to allow the butter to firm up.
Place the wrapped dough on the bench for 10-15 minutes to allow it to soften slightly. Cut two pieces of parchment paper the same size as a half baking sheet (13” x 18”). Unwrap the dough, and place between the two sheets of parchment paper. Using a rolling pin, bang the dough gently to help flatten out, then roll to the size of the parchment paper. If you have some wrinkles in the parchment paper, which will then in turn cause wrinkles in your dough, peel the sheet off and smooth it back onto the dough, then continue rolling.
Once you have rolled your dough to the size of the parchment paper, transfer it, still between the two sheets of paper, to a baking sheet, and place in the freezer to firm up, 15-20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 325˚f (170˚c). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a 2” fluted cookie cutter, cut circles of dough, and transfer them to the prepared baking sheet (you can fit quite a few cookies on a baking sheet, as they do not spread much). If the dough starts to soften, return to the freezer to firm up. Re-roll scraps, freeze briefly, then cut out the rest of the dough.
Place the cut out cookies in the freezer for 10 minutes, then, using a small shaped cutter, cut out a hole in the middle of half of the cookies.
One sheet at a time, bake the cookies for 11-12 minutes, until the shortbread is set and only just beginning to go golden. Remove from the oven, allow to cool for 15 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
RASPBERRY QUICK JAM
In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, mash the raspberries roughly. Bring to a rolling boil, and then add the sugar. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a container or sterilised jars, and allow to cool completely before using. Store in the fridge.
FILLING AND ASSEMBLY
Pair up the cookies so each pair has one solid half, and one half with a cut-out. Arrange the halves with a cut-out on a wire rack, and dust generously with powdered sugar. Place all the solid halves, smooth side (the side that was facing upwards on the baking sheet) down, and, either using a piping bag or a spoon, dollop about a teaspoon of the Raspberry Jam Filling onto the halves. Top with a cut-out half, and carefully press down to sandwich. Repeat with remaining cookies.
Store leftovers in an airtight container. If you are not planning on eating these on the first or second day, store the cookies and the filling separate, and sandwich closer to eating, to avoid them going soggy.