This is the first in a series of recipe ideas for Valentine's Day. Valentine's Day means different things to different people. To me, it's a day to show someone you love how much they mean. I've always taken the opportunity to talk to my children about appreciating the people around them. I think one of the best ways to introduce this idea to a young child is get them to spend time doing something for someone they care about: making a card or gift; doing something kind; or in this case, cooking.
This is a simple biscuit (cookie) recipe, which, with a set of heart-shaped cutters and one enthusiastic toddler, can be transformed into a lovely Valentine gift. I love this biscuit dough because, unless something has gone seriously wrong with my shopping list system, I always have these ingredients in the house; perfect for an impromptu cooking session (click here for other ideas of what to keep stocked in the store cupboard). It is egg-free and by using dairy-free spread instead of butter, can also be made for anyone with a milk allergy.
I have given 2 different ways of finishing these: iced and heart-shaped jammy dodgers. The iced version is the simplest. The jammy-dodgers are slightly more fiddly, but just as fun and look great. Depending on your toddler's staying-power, you can get them to:
1. do the whole thing,
2. prepare the dough yourself and get them to do the rolling and cutting,
3. or even, bake the biscuits yourself and simply get them to ice and decorate.
Basic Biscuit Recipe (makes 16-20 small iced biscuits & 8-10 small jammy-dodgers)
- 70g (2 1/2oz) unsalted butter
- 120g (1 Cup) plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting
- 3 tbsp caster sugar
As anyone who follows Tickle Fingers will know, I believe in getting everything ready to the point that a toddler can do every step from start-to-finish. It keeps up the momentum and helps to give them the satisfaction of producing something largely independently. So,
1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
2. Soften butter by taking it out of fridge at least 1 hour before. If you haven't done this, you can soften butter in the microwave, but be careful, you don't want to melt it. Microwave it for 20 seconds at about 10-20% of max power. Turn butter and repeat. Keep repeating until you can squish it easily between 2 fingers.
3. Lay out: ingredients, mixing bowl, wooden spoon, board, rolling pin, heart-shaped cutters & baking tray lined with greaseproof (waxed) paper or a non-stick baking mat.
1. Put butter and sugar into mixing bowl. Squish and stir with wooden spoon until combined. The key to this is having the butter soft enough, but even so, it can be hard work. I try to encourage them by pretending the wooden spoon is a bulldozer or a racing car whizzing round a track. But even so, I often have to finish this off for them.
2. Add the flour and mix again with the wooden spoon. As the mixture starts to come together, ditch the wooden spoon and get hands in. Squish the mix together until you've formed a ball of dough.
3. Dust flour onto a board and rolling pin. If it is still sticking to the rolling pin, put cling-film (plastic wrap) on top of the dough. Roll it out until about 4mm (1/5") thick.
4. Use a cookie cutter to cut out heart-shapes and place them on a lined baking tray. NB. If you are doing the jammy dodgers, use a smaller heart cutter to cut out a little heart in the middle of half the larger hearts.
Put tray in the freezer for 5 minutes to stop the biscuits spreading in the oven. Then bake for about 12 minutes until lightly golden. Transfer to a cooling rack.
Iced Biscuits (Cookies)
Mix icing sugar (confectioners sugar) with a little water (use packet instructions for quantities) to make a white icing. Mix in a drop of red food colouring if you want pink hearts. Get your child to spoon the icing onto each biscuit and go mad with the sprinkles.
Spread strawberry or raspberry jam on the hearts with no holes. Place hearts with holes on top.
If you want any more love-inspired ideas, check out A day of hearts: 10 simple things a toddler can cook for someone they love. #FromToddlerWithLove