Get Baked with Autostraddle: Valentine’s Day Edition

We all understand that Valentine’s Day is the second-most contrived of all of American ‘holidays,’ coming in just behind Grandparents’ Day. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun and hopefully get laid! You’re going to need a Fun Plan, though, and that’s where we come in.

First, make sure you’ve got the look — Becky’s got you covered with her Valentine’s Day Style Guide.

Secondly: Keeping in mind that the way to a girl’s heart / hips is through her mouth, you’re definitely going to want to feed her.

Intern Hot Laura, Intern Rachel (of Prop 8 Trial Recapping Fame), Associate Editor Sarah F*cking P*lmer and I (Exec. Editor Laneia) are here with four yummy recipes that are sure to impress your paramour.

After you’ve finished baking up a wild, sexy storm, tell us how you usually work your magic on Valentine’s Day. Any favorite recipes or successful strategies you’d like to share? Or what about that time you tried to cook a fancy French meal for your girlfriend, but ended up calling out for pizza because you burned down the kitchen? Share your tips and stories in the comments!

Homemade Oreos: Laura
Sugared Shortbread Cookies: Sarah
Hummingbird Bakery Red Velvet Cake: Rachel
Triple Chocolate Brownies: Laneia


Homemade Oreos by Laura

a.k.a. Will you marry me? Want a cookie? How about now? How about now?

These cookies are kind of magic because everyone who eats them instantly falls in love with you! The recipe makes about a zillion cookies, so you could cut it in half if you’d like. But that would be stupid because then you’d only make half as many friends/girlfriends.

Cookies
2 boxes of devils food cake mix
4 eggs
2/3 cup of vegetable oil

Mix all that stuff up. Also, a note on mixing: The dough ends up being really, really thick and difficult to mix, so either use an electric mixer (if you’re savvy) or your hands. Spoons aren’t recommended.

Shape the dough into balls, making them slightly smaller than a typical cookie because they’re going to be made into sandwiches. Bake them at 350° for 6-8 minutes. Check them at 6 minutes because no one likes hard cookies. (That’s what she said! Ohhhhhh!)

Filling
1 stick of butter
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 tablespoon of vanilla
3-4 cups of powdered sugar
Red food coloring, if you need everything that you bake during the month of February to scream “VALENTINE’S DAY,” as I do.

Mix the butter and cream cheese together first, then add in the rest! When the cookies are cool, ice half of them (on the flat side, obvs) and them stick them together with un-iced ones. Hello, you just made a sandwich cookie!

These are 800 times more moist and delicious the day after you make them, so stick them in a baggie and wait til the morning.


Sugared Shortbread Cookies by Sarah F*cking P*lmer

These are actually sablés, which are French butter cookies. That’s right, the main flavor here is butter. How could you go wrong? This particular recipe is from my FAVORITE BAKING BOOK OF ALL TIME, Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From my Home to Yours.

Anyone who wants to bake, or already loves to, should own this book. It has the best recipes for all the basics, including cake, biscuits, pies, tarts, and all sorts of cookies. BUY IT.

Notes
+ This dough requires a few hours of refrigeration, so plan accordingly!

Ingredients
2 sticks (8 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon salt, preferably fine sea salt
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 beaten egg
Coarse decorating sugar

You can do this with a stand mixer or a hand mixer. In a large bowl, beat the butter until it’s smooth and creamy. Be careful not to whip the butter (i.e. mix in air) because that is unnecessary for this particular cookie.

Add the granulated sugar + confectioner’s sugar + salt and beat until blended, about 1 minute. Reduce your mixer speed and mix in the yolks, one at a time, until everything’s combined or your arm gets tired, whichever comes first.

Stop mixing and dump in the flour. Carefully pulse the mixer to combine the flour and butter mixture. The key here is to not overmix the dough, so beat just until the flour mixes in. I suggest finishing the job with a rubber spatula (that’s what she said). The dough should be kinda sandy and not fully formed into a ball.

Ok, so dump that out on the counter, make it into a ball, and then divide it in half.

Depending on how warm your dough is, you might need to chill it for a few minutes at this point. Now shape each half of the dough into a cylinder. It’s really best to put the dough on a piece of plastic wrap and use that to help you as you roll. When you have two cylinders about 9 or 10 inches long, roll them up into the plastic wrap and pop them in the fridge. Let them sit for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight. They’ll keep frozen for a while, too!

Basically what you’ve created is a homemade version of those slice and bake cookies you buy in the grocery store. Except these don’t have a million preservatives or weird colored shapes in the middle and they taste much better! So after you’ve let the dough chill, bring it out and unwrap it on your work surface. Keep that plastic wrap, you’ll need it in a minute.

Now it’s time for the fun decorating! You’ll need two things: a beaten egg with some sort of brush to apply it and coarse decorating sugar. You’re looking for large grains because they won’t melt in the oven. [sidenote: I did not follow my own advice and used colored sugar with a fine grain. And so it turned in to food coloring basically. DO AS I SAY, NOT AS I DO.] The whole point of this post is Valentine’s Day treats, so I chose red, white, and pink sugars.

Spread out the plastic wrap on the counter, with the dough at the end closest to you. Pour out a line of sugar. Brush egg onto the dough and roll it through the sugar. Wrap the dough back in the plastic wrap and put it in the fridge until it’s cool again. TRUST ME.

Now you’re ready to cut your cookies! You know the drill: just slice away. Stay larger than ¼ inch, but thinner is better. Lay them out on a baking sheet, about an inch apart. Bake them at 350° for 17-20 minutes or until light brown on the edges and pale on top. Let ’em cool before you eat them; they’re better that way!

You’re done! Aren’t they so cute?! You should be really proud of yourself! If you want to make this recipe again, you can switch it up with different flavors. Lemon, spice, nuts, even cheese (for a savory cookie) are all great adaptations.


Next:
Hummingbird Bakery Red Velvet Cake by Rachel
and Triple Chocolate Brownies from Laneia!

Hummingbird Bakery Red Velvet Cake by Rachel

Support and photography by Peter Swire, fan of Autostraddle and soup chef extraordinaire

Notes
+ This is a British recipe and many of the amounts are in grams. You can do a quick conversion to more American measurements via interwebs if you must. We’re leaving it in British so our friends across the pond feel included! What’s up, Eley, et al!

+ The next time I make this cake, I’ll double the recipe and make three layers. As it is, your cake will be a little thin. Also, everyone knows that nothing gets you laid faster than a three-layer cake on Valentine’s Day.

Ingredients
120g unsalted butter, at room temperature
300g caster sugar (or organic Sucanat if you are a dirty hippie like me)
2 egg
20g cocoa powder
40ml red food colouring (this is like a ton of food coloring? I think you could use less)
1 tsp vanilla extract
240ml buttermilk
300g plain flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
3 tsp white wine vinegar

Preheat the oven to 170°C. (325° F)

Beat butter + sugar until fluffy and well mixed. Now turn the mixer up to high speed and slowly add the egg until everything is blended nicely. Don’t have an electric mixer? Make your friend / valentine do all the stirring while you add the stuff! Teamwork!

In a separate bowl, mix cocoa powder + red food colouring + vanilla extract to make a very thick, dark paste. Add the butter mixture and combine well. Don’t combine poorly! That’d be ridiculous.

Turn the mixer (or your friend / loved one) to slow speed and slowly pour in half the buttermilk. Now add half the flour and beat until everything is friendly and incorporated. Repeat this until you’ve got all the buttermilk and flour in there. Turn your mixer / friend up to high and beat the batter (oh!) until it’s smooth and even. At this point it probably looks a lot like blood. You should smear some on your face and pretend to be Bill Compton! Only sexier / smarter / with a normal accent.

Ok get back on task. Time to add the baking soda and vinegar. Once that’s in there, beat it for a few more minutes (OMG THAT IS SO WHAT SHE SAID)

Pour into a lightly greased 6″ cake tin, which you probs don’t have. That’s cool — use what you’ve got. Bake for 40 minutes for a 6″ tin, 30 for an 8″ tin. Are they done yet? Let ’em cool!

Hmmm, now you just need some cream cheese frosting. Oh hey look!

Cream Cheese Frosting
I went with Paula Deen’s recipe, because no one knows more about high-cholesterol and traditionally-Southern desserts. This recipe is easy but makes an outrageous amount of frosting! Unless you want two solid inches of frosting all over this cake (which is fine, I’m not judging if you do), I would make 3/4 or 1/2 this amount.

Ingredients
1 lb cream cheese, room temp
2 sticks of butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar

Mix that shit up until it’s fluffy and delicious! Do not frost that cake until it’s all the way cool, or else this ish will melt all over your counter. Tip: put the frosting in the fridge for about little while — not too long — so it’s firmer when you use it.

Now decorate! Maybe use some heart-shaped sprinkles. Or set aside some of the crumbs from the cake (if you have to level off some of the layers to make them flat, that would work) and sprinkle them on top. We made a heart shape stencil and used that to make a heart shape on top. But do whatever you want! Go wild!


Triple Chocolate Brownies

by Nigella Lawson, not Laneia

These brownies come from Nigella Lawson and her show, Nigella Feasts (which is the only thing worth watching on a lazy Sunday morning, in my opinion). I’ve halved her recipe because I have no need for eighteen brownies. Maybe you have many lovers and require several brownies? If so, feel free to double this.

Notes
+ All measurements were originally in the language of Great Britain, which means grams not ounces, which means when I halved the recipe, things got a little silly. Deal with it.

+ Don’t have superfine / caster sugar? Sarah suggests running granulated sugar through a food processor. Worked for me!

Ingredients
1 + 1/2 sticks + 1 Tbl unsalted butter
6 oz bittersweet chocolate
3 eggs
1/2 +  cups superfine / caster sugar
1/2 Tbl vanilla extract
3/4 cups + Tbl all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup white chocolate chips
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
powdered sugar

Before you do anything — before you even preheat the oven or open a beer — put the bittersweet chocolate + butter into a heavy saucepan over low heat. Don’t have a heavy saucepan? Double boiler!

Ok now you can get an adult beverage and crank your oven up to 350°. Line an 8 x 8 pan (or 9 x 9, who’s counting?) with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Stir the chocolate + butter! Isn’t it pretty and glossy? It is. Let that stuff melt. (If you insist on not using parchment paper – which’s totes up to you – you’ll need to grease the pan. Oh my goodness, just buy some parchment paper, srsly.) Now would be a good time to organize a new playlist or delete those old photos of your ex-girlfriend. Stir!

When your chocolate + butter has melted to a lovely, thick syrup, remove it from heat and allow it to cool. You didn’t let it boil, did you? Don’t. It need only melt.

While the chocolate’s cooling, beat the eggs + sugar + vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the flour + salt. Is the chocolate cooled off yet? Awesome. Add it to the egg + sugar. Fold in the flour mixture, then stir in the white chocolate / semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Obvs pour the batter into the prepared pan, stick that sucker in the oven and bake for about 30 – 35 mins. Because you were being reasonable and decided to line your pan with parchment paper, you can just lift it out — parchment paper and all — and let the giant pan-shaped brownie cool on a wire rack. You don’t have a wire rack? Um, that’s ok. Just pretend you didn’t read the last part.

Time to cut them! I originally typed “cute” them, which is sort of fitting because we’re about to cover them with powdered sugar. Hella cute!

How’d I manage to write out this whole thing without prompting a parenthetical “That’s what she said” moment? Damn.

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54 Comments

  1. Guys, I was totally looking for something to make for my Valentine’s dinner extravaganza dessert and NOW I HAVE IT.

    Also, can we make recipes a semi-regular thing? Because I am a lez who loves the kitchen, and not just because that’s where we keep the booze.

    • true story re: jungle juice vom: we ended up eating this whole cake at a party that my apartment threw, and it turns out that this cake will in fact make your vom super red. also i’m really glad my roommates are still speaking to me.

  2. OH YUMMMMMM. You’re making me want to bake again.

    Also: partner just got a blender as a birthday present, so any blending ideas would be appreciated. We make banana milkshakes this morning, YUM.

  3. YA’LL. my girlfriend usually complains that i’m not affectionate enough. but that’s totes okay because i have so much love for autostraddle.

    and now i can like, cook her some brownies and say, “LOOK AT THAT. LOOK AT THAT delicious-looking brownie. that is the chocolatey representation of my love. don’t tell me that’s not awesome.”

  4. omg one of my irish friends makes these from her mum’s recipe and they are AMAZING. like, I got her mum to bring me some over specially last time she came to visit, despite the fact that I’ve never met her. Thats how good they are.

  5. Guys…I had a dream last night that I was eating Laura’s cookies.
    Wait.
    That needs re-phrasing.

    I had a dream last night that I was eating the homemade oreos! If that’s not sad, I don’t know what is. I can’t remember what else was going on in the dream, but I clearly remember those cookies.

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