It's almost Valentine's Day, and specially-themed cakes, cupcakes, and cookies have been popping up everywhere. Although these cookies would be a perfect treat for that special someone, they became Love Cookies for various specific reasons that actually have nothing to do with February 14th.
First of all, they were the first thing I baked, less than 24 hours after getting my casts taken off on Thursday. For now, my left hand looks a little deformed, but the fact that I was so excited about getting back into the kitchen could only mean one thing. I am officially in love with baking. And while some may have a love child--although that's a completely different issue--these are my love cookies. All week long, all I could think about was them. I thought the recipe out in my mind over and over again, hoping the toasted sesame and chestnut combo would turn out to be what I wanted. Infatuated might be a better word than in love, actually, just like I was infatuated with Johnny Depp when I was little. (Please don't tell anyone I recently bought a Pirates of the Caribbean t-shirt.)
Most importantly, I wanted these cookies to be exactly what they turned out to be: sweet and simple. That's what all true love stories are about, aren't they?
True love, in my mind, is embodied by the story of how my French grandfather and grandmother met. It all started with letters sent by my grandmother to bring up the spirits of French troops fighting the colonial wars in Vietnam in the late 1940s, and somehow her letters got in the hands of my grandfather. After writing back and forth, they ended up meeting when he came back on leave and as the French saying goes, "ils se marièrent et eurent beaucoup d'enfants".
The thought of a lifetime of love starting with a simple letter, in my mind, is as sweet as it gets. I wish I could hear dozens more, but I never got to meet my grandmother, who passed away much too young.
I just like to think that wherever my grandparents both are right now, they would approve of such a cookie as a tribute to them. And wherever you are, go ahead and try these. I can promise they'll bring a nice touch of sweetness to your day!
Sesame-Chestnut Love Cookies
makes approx. 15 small cookies
1/4 c. butter, softened
1 egg yolk
1/2 TS vanilla extract
2 TB brown sugar
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 TB toasted sesame seeds
Chestnut cream (crème de marrons)
Preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C. In a medium bowl, cream butter, sugar vanilla and egg yolk. Add flour and salt, and mix until combined. Add toasted sesame seeds and mix.
Refrigerate cookie dough for at least 30 minutes so it firms up. On a baking sheet, shape dough into small tablespoon-sized balls. Flatten a little with your palm, and press thumb into the center to make an indentation. Fill with chestnut cream.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden. Let cookies cool 5 minutes on baking sheet, and carefully slide onto a rack to cool.
Cookies will keep a few days stored in an airtight container.