Valentine-themed biscuits but lovely enough for any occasion. Rose flavoured, raspberry-coloured, buttercream-filled and sprinkled with rose petals, perfect for Valentine's Day.
The art of food styling
Food styling is an art. It requires no less skill than clothes designing or interior decorating. You need to be able to visualise what you want to achieve; understand the harmonies and contrasts of colours, textures and shapes and know how to put the elements together.
You need to understand light and shade; depth and focus; plus you have to be a damn good photographer.
All those features are ones I do not possess.
I usually set enthusiastically about displaying my food, except when it’s hot and ought to remain so for subsequent consumption. Then it’s mad rush and I snap whichever way I can.
Dishes that don’t mind waiting are apparently easy, but not for me. The longer I faff about juggling plates, napkins and worktops, the worse the result. A bunch of flowers – no, all wrong colours. A pretty vase in the background – except the shot is overhead.
Very occasionally I get something right; the light is particularly lenient or the food is just pleasing on the eye. But more often than not it’s toil and trouble. The same green dish on the same wooden table.
In fact my accidental styling turns out usually better than my planning and visualisations. I would throw in the towel probably long ago if it wasn’t for one thing.
My food may look not so special but it tastes bloody damn good.
Pretty Valentine biscuits
So if you think these are pretty and the pictures look nice, I'm humbly grateful. But my rose and raspberry hearts are first and foremost delicious.
The dough is pâte sablée, French rich shortcrust pastry. If you have a food processor, it takes only a few whizzes to create a ball of dough. If not, you can do it all by hand because pâte sablée does not require any of the ice-cold butter nonsense: it's very accommodating.
You can also roll it out and cut the biscuits straight away, without chilling the pastry.
Stiff buttercream for sandwich biscuits
This is the best and the easiest stiff buttercream formula and your filling will last a good few days even outside the fridge. Clarified butter or beurre noisette mixed with sugar and flavourings turns into fluffy frosting after only a few minutes of beating with electric mixer. It thickens fast once you stop beating so make a batch and use it in your biscuits promptly.
Fancy Valentine trimmings
Oh, we know, it's a pink and heart-shaped day. Hence the raspberries, the rose water and rose petals raining on the finished cookies. Freeze-dried raspberries are a wondrous ingredient in baking though as they will both flavour and colour the dough, the buttercream, the icing - and your hearts...