Valentine’s Day has always been a special day for me but not because of romance. My mom’s birthday was February 14. She received birthday cards galore since everybody could remember that day. Dad never failed to come home with a heart-shaped box of chocolates and a card that said simply “Love, Al.” When I got old enough to make things in the kitchen by myself I “surprised” her with a heart-shaped layer cake. Having raised five kids ourselves, we’ve seen our share of school card exchanges and treats taken to share with classmates. I’ve accumulated quite a collection of heart-shaped cookie cutters.
I made these with shortbread dough because I wanted a sturdy cookie. The marbling effect is easy to do and can be done with any shortbread or sugar cookie recipe. Mix all of the dough, then set aside half of it and add food coloring to the other half. Or color both halves with contrasting colors – red and orange, blue and green, yellow and orange, anything that suits your fancy. Just be aware that if you mix two colors you may get an odd, slightly muddied shade where they mix, especially if you re-roll the scraps. A little sanding sugar is a nice touch, or a light drizzle of glaze, but not so much it hides the marbling. Your kids or grandkids would love to help cut them out and sprinkle the tops.
Beat sugar with the butter till well mixed. Add the egg yolks and extract and continue to mix until all of the egg is incorporated. Mix in flour and salt. When all is mixed in, remove half of the dough and set aside. Add food coloring as desired to the dough remaining in the mixer and mix just until color is even. Repeat with other half if desired, using a contrasting color.
Divide dough into 6-8 pieces and stack alternate colors, then cut the stack into 10-12 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball to make the marbled effect. Flatten the balls slightly, then cover and refrigerate a couple of hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Take out the pieces and let them warm on the counter for 20 minutes before rolling them out and cutting shapes. For this shortbread recipe I made them 1/4″ thick. Sprinkle with sanding sugar or other sprinkles if desired. Bake for 12-13 minutes, just until edges are beginning to brown. Cool completely before drizzling with glaze or storing.