Valentine’s Day is important in my family. My grandparents’ relationship began because my grandfather, Stu, gave my grandmother, Rita, a valentine. (Though, as my Gram tells it, he had been pursuing her for some time without much success. He would chat with her father so often that my great-grandfather told her she should give Stuart a chance. She told my great-grandfather that, if he liked Stu so much, he should go out with him!) That gesture, one that may seem a little cliché now, was enough to convince Rita that she should finally give Stu a chance. They were married for just shy of 68 years and he gave her a valentine every year thereafter. As I have gotten older, they have come to represent Valentine’s Day for me.
On the first Valentine’s Day my husband and I were dating, he showed up with a container of these Sweetheart Cookies for me. People don’t often bake for me. Certainly no one had ever baked anything for me for Valentine’s Day. The cookies aren’t why I married him, but our shared love of baking is definitely something that brought us together. This year I made these cookies for him for Valentine’s Day (though he was nice enough to share them with me).
- 1 cup (2 sticks) softened unsalted butter
- 6 ounces softened cream cheese
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups flour
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup quick oats
- ½ cup pecans (or walnuts) chopped*
- 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1-2 Tablespoons half & half (or milk)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 3 drops of red food coloring (optional)
- In a stand mixer, mix the butter and cream cheese together until just combined.
- Add sugar and blend until fluffy and light in color.
- Add vanilla and stir until just combined.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Add flour mixture to wet ingredients. Mix until just combined.
- Add in oats and pecans mixing until combined. The dough will be thick.
- Chill dough in refrigerator for at least two hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Remove chilled dough from refrigerator.
- Using a cookie dough scoop (1 tablespoon) scoop out the dough.
- To form hearts, break ball of dough in half. Shape each half into tear shape. Then squeeze together tips to form hearts (see photo).
- Place hearts (or balls of dough) onto cookie sheet about 1 inch apart. (These cookies will not spread much during baking.)
- Flatten the dough with the palm of your hand or a spatula to about ¼ inch thick.
- Bake cookies for 12-15 minutes. The tops of the cookies will not brown, but the bottom edges will start to brown.
- Cool cookies on a rack.
- Prepare the icing by mixing confectioner’s sugar, butter, vanilla, and 1 Tablespoon of half & half together with mixer (or hand mixer). Add additional half & half until icing reaches desired consistency.
- Spread icing over cooled cookies.
- Leave cookies on rack for icing to set.