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A Sweet Valentine
One of the most loved volunteer activities at Ronald McDonald Houses is baking.
When the first aroma of a freshly baked treat starts its journey throughout the House, volunteers love how families perk up, start gathering in the kitchen, and wait, counting down the minutes until the first batch cools. They can feel the difference they are making cookie by cookie, brownie by brownie, cake layer by cake layer.
Often times, the Houses are stocked with the essentials – flour, sugar, butter, milk, and eggs. You just need to bring the recipe and the heart.
Around Valentine’s Day, just a little something sweet – that treat that you freshly baked can comfort a soul, put a smile on a face, or let someone know just how much you care. Here is one of our favorite Valentine’s Day recipes, perfect for celebrating the holiday with families at your local Ronald McDonald House.
Swiss Raspberry-Filled Heart Cookies (Adapted from Saveur.com)
3 sticks butter, softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 egg yolks
3 ½ cups flour
¾ cup seedless raspberry preserves
¼ cup Grand Marnier
Big and small heart-shaped cookie cutters
Beat butter and 1 ½ cups of the sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on low speed. Increase speed to medium; beat until light and fluffy. Add yolks one at a time, beating until smooth. Add flour ½ cup at a time, slowly beating after each addition to combine and everything is incorporated. Transfer dough onto a large sheet of plastic wrap and press it into a 9" × 11" rectangle. Cover with more plastic wrap and let chill for at least one hour. Can be refrigerated overnight.
Preheat oven to 325°. Divide chilled dough into 6 pieces. Rewrap 5 pieces individually in plastic wrap and chill. On a lightly floured surface, work the dough piece gently with a rolling pin to warm it slightly. Keeping surface and dough floured, roll dough into a 9" square. (If dough sticks, gently run a spatula underneath it, to release it.) Using the big heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out 9 big hearts of dough and transfer them to a parchment paper–lined baking sheet about 1" apart. Repeat process with remaining chilled dough pieces. Using the small heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut a hole in the center of half of the hearts (these are the tops.) Bake all cookies in batches, rotating pans halfway through, until just pale golden, about 15 minutes. Let cookies cool completely.
Put preserves, along with the Grand Marnier into a small pot and bring to a boil, stirring, over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring, until thickened and reduced by about one-quarter, 5-7 minutes. Transfer preserves to a bowl; let cool. Put remaining 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar into a sieve; dust cookie tops. Turn whole cookies upside down—these are the bottoms; spoon about 1/2 tsp. of preserves onto each. Using a small spatula, spread preserves to within 1/8" of the edges. Cover each with a cookie top. Use remaining preserves to top off each cookie hole carefully. Serve cookies immediately or store between sheets of wax paper in an airtight container at room temperature.