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Baking With Love on Valentine’s Day

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I’ve always had an irreverent attitude toward Valentine’s Day, after all, it does fall during Aquarius Season, the least romantic sign n the zodiac, but I had a shift while preparing for this shoot as I was challenged to invite new ideas into my psyche.

The shift helped me see this as a socially-love-filled holiday, rather than one of commercial intimacy with a romantic interest. This view just feels more organic and flowered with love-y vibes to me. I get it now Aquarius, you ARE a romantic—at least when it comes to your social circles and close communities. So, in honor of Valentine’s Day and our friend-centric Aquarius Season, throw an apron on and bake some floury, sugary romance into delicious pastry treats, for all of your beloved comrades.

As for my actual shift in attitude, it all started in the kitchen. There’s something sensual and intimate about the art of baking and really using your bare hands to help the chemistry of each ingredient gently meld into the others, creating something wholly new with each addition; the results, slightly different with each go. Time of day, temperature, the season, the source of each ingredient, your own mood: It all affects the delicate alchemy and magic of the process.

While watching our gorgeous pastry chef, Courtney, at work on this very thing, it dawned on me that Aquarius Season has this same affect with thoughts. It brings with it an alchemist influence through collaboration and progressive thinking. Aquarius has an awareness of each part of a collective or a circle of friends, cultivating all ideas like ingredients until, voila, the thing being brainstormed becomes something entirely different in the process. This is the magic of Aquarius Season. It certainly worked on me this year, transforming my idea of Valentine’s Day through friends and a collaborative effort to create a work of art. I’ve now realized that this is a holiday to openly adore everyone who contributes to your shared ideas and dreams; a time to appreciate those who have created positive alchemic shifts in your life and to invite more of it in with offerings of love.

During this open-minded Aquarian time, consider my alternative view of Valentine’s Day—although I’m fully aware that most of you will have had your own experiences and alchemy that will have shaped this holiday in your own lives.

In keeping with my friend and community centered perspective that has settled into my vision of this day:

Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It’s not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.
– Muhammad Ali

Friends and love are the secret ingredients that blend everything ‘just so’.

HEART SHAPED LINZER COOKIES

Ingredients:
2 1/2 sticks lightly salted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional flour for rolling the cookies
1/2 cup slivered almonds, ground
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup seedless raspberry jam
Powdered sugar
2 heart-shaped cookie cutters, 1 1/2 inches & 3/4 inches

Instructions:
In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and continue mixing until the mixture becomes light and fluffy, 5 to 8 minutes.

In another bowl, combine and mix the flour, almonds, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Lay 3 large pieces of wax paper in a single layer on a flat surface. Sprinkle each one with a light coating of flour. Blend the flour mixture in with the butter. When the ingredients are fully integrated, place one-third of the batter on each of the pieces of wax paper. Coat with another light layer of flour and top with another piece of wax paper of the same length to make 3 dough “sandwiches.” Press these wax paper and dough sandwiches down with your hands until the dough is fairly thin. Place 2 of them in the refrigerator and work with them one at a time. Roll the first batch into as neat a shape as possible and 1/8 inch in thickness. When the first is rolled, refrigerate it and repeat the same process for the other 2. Let them chill at least 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Remove the first rolled sheet from the refrigerator and cut as many 1 1/2-inch hearts as you can. Arrange the hearts neatly in a single layer on a greased baking sheet. Repeat with the other 2 sheets, reserving any scraps.

Cut a heart, with the smaller cutter, out of the center of half of all the cookies.

Bake the cookies until they are lightly brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove the trays from the oven and allow them to cool slightly on the tray for a few minutes before gently transferring them to a flat surface.

Place the raspberry jam in a small pot and bring it to a light simmer. Remove from the heat to cool slightly as well. Spoon 1/4 to 1/2 a teaspoon raspberry jam on each bottom and place a top heart on squarely on each. Dust with powdered.

Recipe courtesy of Alex Guarnaschelli

Read more HERE

CREDITS

Words & Art Direction: Allie Couch of Cosmo Muse

Styling & Creative Direction: Lauren Brady of Saucy and Kitsch

Photography: Britt & Peter Chudleigh of Britt Chudleigh Photgraphy

Hair & MU: Gabby Gabbistas of Sequel Salon

Pastry Chef: Courtney Mcdowell of Pallet Bistro

Venue: Pallet Bistro

Thank you to the above amazing partners in crime for the transformative experience and helping me hone in on a love of Valentine’s Day, in my own unconventional way ♥

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