Ah, it’s Valentine’s Day. A day that is either loved or loathed with varying degrees of emotion from year to year. I have always liked Valentine’s Day, if only because it signals the thick of candy season. Though Halloween has a lot to offer when it comes to candy, the variety I can purchase from the beginning of February to Easter is unparalleled. Not to mention heart-shaped donuts appear. As if a donut could get any better!
But then something happened to move me from the like to the love camp. Five years ago today, Shaylin was born. Shaylin and I are cousins, and together we bookend our Grandparent’s grandchild collection. At 33, I am the oldest, and at five, she is the youngest.
For Shaylin’s virtual birthday treat, I made red velvet shortbread cookies and decorated them to look like pigs. The Red Velvet/Valentine’s Day connection is likely pretty clear. The Pig/Valentine’s Day connection is likely less so, unless you are in an “I loathe Valentine’s Day” mood. Then I imagine the “men are pigs” connection is fairly obvious. Since it’s not all about Valentine’s Day today, allow me to share with you a Pig/Shaylin story to clear things up.
My sister has a bulldog, June. When she was about two and a half, Shaylin came to believe poor June was a “piggy”. Given June’s a bulldog, her smooshed nose and snorty breaths gave little Shaylin no reason to believe she wasn’t a pig. It probably didn’t help that her dad called June a piggy right along with her. But Shaylin’s a pretty smart cookie, so when she saw the leash come out when it was time for June’s walk, she exclaimed, “that’s not a piggy, that’s a doggy!” Shaylin knew you didn’t walk pigs, you walked dogs! Though I wasn’t there to witness this, the story always has stuck in my mind and made me smile.
To decorate the pig cookies, I placed a layer of icing over the red velvet shortbread cookies, and then topped the icing with homemade fondant. If you do not want to go to the trouble of working with fondant, pink icing will work just as well. The ears are pink sugar wafers, the eyes are mini chocolate chips, the nose is a slice of marshmallow, and the mouth is piped on with icing. All are attached with a bit of icing.
If pigs aren’t your thing, the red velvet shortbread cookies can be easily transformed into a grown up dessert too. As suggested in the original recipe, dip an edge of the cookie into melted chocolate, then decorate with nuts or pretty sprinkles. Lovely and delicious – enjoy!
Red Velvet Shortbreads
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces
- 1 tablespoon red food coloring
- Whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt.
- Add the butter and red food coloring, and use a pastry cutter or food processor to cut in the butter until the mixture resembles a fine crumb and forms a ball.
- On a lightly floured surface, gently knead the dough, then use a rolling pin to roll it out to about 1/2-inch thickness.
- Use cookie cutters to cut the dough into desired shapes.
- Repeat rolling and cutting until all dough is used.
- Place the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet.
- Bake at 325 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes or until the centers are set.
- Allow to cool on a wire rack
To decorate the cookies to resemble pigs, place a thin layer of icing over the red velvet shortbread cookies, and then top the icing with fondant. If you do not want to go to the trouble of working with fondant, pink icing will work just as well. The ears are pink sugar wafers, the eyes are mini chocolate chips, the nose is a slice of marshmallow, and the mouth is piped on with icing. All are attached with a bit of icing.