I call bullshit on Valentine's Day. Yep. You read that right. Bullshit. I happen to think it's a pseudo-holiday that exists for two reasons and neither of them is love. The first reason: the creation of order and control. A long time ago, society realized they could exploit the chemical reactions that occur in people's brains when they think about sex (among other things) to control people. Valentine's Day just helps solidify that control. The second reason: money. We can always use another excuse to boost the economy whether the individual can really afford it or not.
All that said, I never turn down a reason to bake, so even though I'm calling bullshit, I'm still baking my heart out.
Using your favourite shortbread cookie recipe (or sugar cookie recipe if you like to go that way - blech), these pretty little cookies take hardly any time at all. When you mix up your shortbread, just add red food colouring to part of the dough. Chill then roll out the white dough and cut it out with a scalloped circle cutter. Place the cutouts on a parchment-lined baking sheet, then cut out the centre with a heart shaped cutter. When you're finished with the white dough, roll out the red and cut out hearts using the same cutter you used to remove the centres from the white dough. Place a red heart inside each circle and bake.
With two heart shaped cookie cutters and the same technique, you can also make these gorgeous cupcakes.
Roll out some gum paste, cut out your hearts and use them to top your Valentine cupcakes. Adding some disco or pearl dust to the gum paste decorations gives them a little extra festive sparkle.