Rose and raspberry Valentine biscuits
Updated: Mon, 18 January, 2021
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...
rose and raspberry Valentine biscuitsServings: 2 dozen cookies, depending on sizeTime: 45 minutes
- For the biscuits:
- 15g (½ cup) freeze-dried raspberries
- 220g (1¾ cup) flour
- ½ tsp fine salt (fleur de sel if possible)
- 110g (1 stick) butter, softened
- 110g (½ cup) caster sugar
- 1 large egg, beaten
- For the buttercream:
- 100g (1 stick minus 1 tbsp.) unsalted butter
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp rose water
- ¼ tsp fine salt (fleur de sel if possible)
- 140g (1 heaping cup) icing sugar
- For the glaze:
- 3 tsp icing sugar
- 2-3 tbsp. hot water
1. Place the raspberries between two sheets of parchment and crush with a rolling pin into crumbs. Put a tablespoon aside for decoration and stir the rest into the flour together with the salt in a large bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer.
2. Cut the butter into the flour mix and beat with electric or standing mixer until it resembles coarse crumbs.
3. Add the caster sugar and the egg and mix on low speed until it all just blends together – it will look very much like wet sand.
4. Turn the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead lightly into a ball.
5. Roll it out to a pound coin thickness. Cut the biscuits with a heart-shaped (or any shape you fancy) biscuit cutter and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment. They can go quite close together as they only spread a little.
6. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. Bake the biscuits for 10 – 12 minutes (depending on the size) until pale and just set. Transfer them to a wire rack and cool completely.
7. In the meantime make the buttercream: melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat until the boiling point; turn it down a little when it starts to sizzle. Cook it, stirring occasionally, until it stops making noise, turns clear and the milky bits that have dropped to the bottom start browning a little. Take it off the heat and strain into a bowl.
8. Add the vanilla and rose water, salt and stir in the icing sugar. Beat with an electric mixer or by a hand whisk until smooth, creamy and fluffy, for about 5 minutes. Use it more or less immediately as it will thicken within 10 minutes or so.
9. Turn half the biscuits upside down and spoon or pipe with a piping bag blobs of buttercream in the middle of each biscuit. Sandwich with the remaining halves and let them stand until set; 20-30 minutes.
10. To decorate, make runny icing with the icing sugar and hot water and brush over the tops of the biscuits; then dip in the reserved crushed raspberries.
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