Come Valentine’s Day, we find ourselves divided in two haphazard camps. There are those who bemoan their chronic singledom, googling “When do the chocolates go on sale?” — and there are those who are hated for complaining how, “it’s hard it is to get a reservation on Valentine’s Day,” and “Tom got me roses again when he knows I like hydrangeas.” It is for these losing reasons that we bring you two sure-fire ways to win this Valentine’s day: Strawberry Nutella Hand Pies, and Pink Lemon Pucker-Up Bars.
Strawberry Nutella Hand Pies
If you are anything like me, the sound of the word “Nutella” is enough to spark a piercing desire to run away from whatever it is you’re doing and bury yourself in the hug that is found inside the confines of a chocolatey hazelnut jar of it. What better way, then, to feed the monster that is Nutella syndrome then with Valentine’s Day, a day where both singles and couples are left out in the February cold. Have no fear.
Regardless of your Valentine status this year, one thing is guaranteed: these pies are a sure-fire cause of double digit Instagram likes and suggestions that “we could just split one more.” And while the aforementioned are always welcomed with sticky fingers, it’s the deep-red ooze of fresh strawberries and melting chocolate folded between layers of golden crust that brings me back to these pies on Valentine’s Day and in the middle of August. This is why I would encourage you to make these simple pies for your date, your friends, or even just your midtermed-out self this Valentine’s day. Or after Valentine’s Day. Or in the middle of August. They make it hard to ever go wrong.
Yield: 10-12 pies
2 cups all-purpose flour, divided with extra for dusting
1 tsp salt
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small dice
1/4 cup ice water
2-3 cups roughly chopped strawberries
10-12 tbsp Nutella
1 tbsp milk
1 dash coarse Himalayan salt or sea salt flakes, optional
For the crust:
Mix 1 cup flour and salt together.
Add diced butter until fully incorporated
Mix in ice water followed by remaining flour.
Divide batter in 2 parts, seal, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Remove the batter from the fridge and roll out two disks on well floured surface with a rolling pin.
Cut circles out of batter with the top of a small bowl or large cup. Place half of the circles on a parchment-lined baking tray.
Spoon 1-2 tablespoons of Nutella into the centre of the circles on the baking tray top with 2 tablespoons of chopped strawberries.
Place the untouched other half of dough circles over top of the strawberry Nutella rounds.
Seal the edges of each mini pie with the edge of a fork, working in a circular motion to fasten each shut.
Beat egg and milk together, and brush the top of each pie with the mixture.
Cut a cross shape into centre of the raw pies with a knife.
Sprinkle with salt crystals if desired (as salt brings out the flavour of the chocolate).
Bake at 400 degrees fahrenheit for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
Pink Pucker-Up Bars
I remember the elation that pink lemonade stirred within me at seven years old, and summer afternoons spent letting the feverishly pink liquid slink through the bends of a twisty-straw as it found its way into my half-toothed mouth. Unfortunately, somewhere over the course of the last decade, the satisfaction of pastel-coloured substances and twisty straws has been exchanged for questioning looks from others prompting a generous dose of self-doubt.
Thankfully, however, I have discovered a way to please the inner seven-year-old within all of us: pink pucker-up lemon drop bars. While these bars are no magic love potion, nor are they the baker’s equivalent of cupid’s arrow, they will brush your lips with a cotton candy pink reminiscent of a time when Valentine’s Day meant you had to bring everyone in your class a card. Can you imagine having to do that in Con Hall? Nightmare.
Yield: 12 bars
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup white sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
Sprinkle of salt
3/4 cup white sugar
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
Zest of one lemon
Juice of one lemon
6-8 drops red food colouring
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Combine 1/4 cup sugar, 1 cup flour, and sprinkle of salt.
Add softened butter and mix until well combined.
Place mixture onto the bottom of a square baking dish (approximately 9×9 inches).
Press mixture down until firm and even.
Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, until edges start to brown.
Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl and pour over baked crust.
Bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, until the edges begin browning.
Remove from oven and sprinkle with sifted confectioners sugar.
Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes in pan. Slice into squares and serve (or cut into hearts with a cookie cutter if you are feeling crafty).