Whether you are celebrating Valentine's Day today or not, these choc cherry vegan shortbread cookies are for everyone. They are soft and sweet with just a touch of bitterness from the dark chocolate, which pretty much somes up many people's relationships, and if you're not in a relationship, let the bitter edge be a warning! Haha.
Oh I do sound like a cynic, don't I? I think the name of my shortbread recipes - 'half-hearted' - sums up how I feel abut Valentine's Day. I feel it's rather clichéd to hate it, and have certainly enjoyed my fair share of being wined and dined at no expense to myself on the 14th February, but I also do feel like rolling my eyes when I see the shops full of red-hearts and plastic tat, and awful "I wuv you" teddy bears. I mean, who buys that crap?
But you don't need to be in love to eat delicious vegan shortbread with a generous drizzle of chocolate, do you? Well, not in love with a person, that is. Just in love with yummy sweet things.
For me to tuck into treats, I need only barely an excuse. Therefore here is my contribution to the Valentines's Day recipes going out on the internet and various foodie blogs today. And if you're feeling really rebellious or resigned about Valentine's Day, you don't even have to make these cookies into heart shapes!
Enjoy with a cup of tea, or a glass of champagne, alone, with friends or with your lover.
Half-Hearted Chocolate Cherry Shortbread Cookies
Makes 10 hearts (using a 2in cookie cutter)
¾ cup / 100g plain flour
⅓ cup / 60g vegan margarine
½ cup / 100g glacé cherries, chopped into small pieces
¼ cup / 60g white sugar
2 oz / 60g dark vegan chocolate, broken into pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 160 C / 325 F. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper (parchment paper).
2. In a mixing bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar until it is well beaten and softened. Mix in the vanilla extract, and then the chopped cherries. Use a fork and mash the cherries in a little. Then mix in the flour, and form the dough into a ball. If the dough is too dry, add in a tiny amount of non-dairy milk.
3. Spread a piece of greaseproof paper onto your work top and turn the shortbread dough onto it. With your hands, flatten out the dough until about 5mm thick (if you're in a warm room, you might find the dough is easier to manage after 20 minutes or so in the fridge). Cut the heart shapes with your cookie cutter, and reform/press the dough as needed to use it all up.
4. With a spatula, gently lift the dough shapes onto the baking tray and bake for about 25 minutes until cooked, but not brown. When the cookies are ready, let them cool on a wire tray. Once cool, transfer the cookies to your worktop, onto a fresh piece of greaseproof paper.
5. Melt the chocolate. Heat an inch or so of water in a very small saucepan, with a bowl fitting over it. Break the chocolate into the bowl and melt it – turn the heat very low once melted, to keep it liquid without burning.
6. Using a teaspoon, spoon the melted chocolate onto one side of each cookie, ensuring to cover the edges too. Leave the cookies until the chocolate has cooled and firmed up, then store in an airtight container.