I run into problems around Valentine’s Day when I want to bake something for my hubby.
My husband doesn’t care much for sweets. If I bake cookies, he may eat two, possibly three, out of the entire batch. If I make a cake, with very few exceptions, he’ll eat around any filling, topping, or icing. When he does partake, he prefers fruit pies, crisps, or cobblers. Of course, I make these for him, I’m not an evil monster force feeding him pumpkin rolls or three layer cakes. (I’m happy to be force fed either of those options.) But I cannot limit my baking repertoire to traditional pastries. I’ll go mad. I require variety, even if it’s simple. I can only make so many variations on apple pie before I throw the cinnamon and nutmeg down the garbage disposal.
So, when February 14th rolls around, I hit a brick wall. Pinterest and Goggle deliver exactly what you’d expect, and none of it works for my better half. As a side note, there are too many Red Velvet cake options. Red Velvet cake is an abomination in its original form. Why on earth would you serve cookies, cupcakes, cheesecakes, cake pops, ice cream, and parfaits made out of that repugnant slop? And to someone you LOVE?!? For shame!
I felt like some kind of recipe-archeologist by the time I finally unearthed one that would suffice. It was one of those DYI little pies with cherry pie filling. Just use a pie crust and cookie cutters, crimp the edges and ‘Whoop! There it is!‘ (This is the part where if I had teenagers they would positively die of embarrassment. As it is, I have only to embarrass myself.) This recipe ticked all the boxes for my sweets-averse Valentine. I had a winner.
Don’t have it? No Problem!!
I ran into a few problems though. I didn’t have any cherry pie filling or a premade pie crust. When I went downstairs to fetch my cookie cutters, I remembered that I gave them all to my sister to use with her kiddos. Oops. I did find a pancake heart thingy, but I was skeptical of its angles.
Now ordinarily I would just run to the store and pick up what I needed, especially since this project was too easy (famous last words). But it just so happened that I got snowed in. I would not be defeated. I would not give up! These mini pies would come to fruition, damn it!
I surveyed what I had on hand and noted I still had peaches in the freezer. (I will never freeze peaches again. See my post on Reginald, and the Peach Cake that Almost Wasn’t) I found a recipe for peach pie filling and set about making an alternative fruit goo. Who does that?
Once it was cooled I made a crust for a double 9 in pie. I really dislike making pie crusts, but homemade are so much better than store bought. And obviously I didn’t have much of a choice in this scenario.
Assembling my valentines
As I expected, the pancakey mold did not work well. I was only able to do two before I threw up my floury hands in complete frustration. I knew the edges were going to burn a bit because I couldn’t keep the filling from leaking out. Not much I could do about that, the hearts were too angular. So I had to switch to plain round cut outs.
Now I just had pies. No hearts, and no pretty red filling to peek out the slits on the top. Suddenly my project was just a Hostess knock off, and not a very good one either. If I was trying to do Hostess, they needed to be bigger and more like a crescent or half circle and have a sugary, shiny, chemical slurry on the top that flakes off and sticks to your lips and fingers. (Maybe I’ll try that soon. Stay tuned for baking adventures in cheap childhood junk food.)
Alas, in a last ditch effort to make my little love pies festive, I ran to my cabinet and pulled out the Christmas sprinkles. Luckily there was a red-only section that I could reassign. I liberally doused the pies before popping them in the oven with crossed fingers and a prayer to St. Valentine himself.
When it was all said and baked and cooled and done, I had mixed feelings. They were terribly flakey and buttery and the filling was good. The crust to fruit (and therefore savory to sweet) ratio was high and I would have preferred more peaches and sugar. They weren’t very Valentine-esque despite my best effort to bedazzle them with red-dyed sugar.
But I wasn’t making them for me. If I was making something for myself it probably would have been a German Chocolate Cheesecake with a dark chocolate ganache or a Baklava Trifle with a side of spiced walnuts. I was making it for my husband and really liked them.
So, despite snow, missing ingredients, and lack a of appropriate tools, I managed to pull off something special. I think next year I’m just going to buy a heart-shaped cookie cutter and cut out some quesadillas or a sandwich for my man. Whatever I do, I’ll find something corny, because that’s the way I roll.
Happy Valentine’s Day to all, but especially my single readers. I found love late in life and I know how much it can hurt to see couples around you. You may not have a partner right now, but you aren’t alone. I’m sending you good vibes, and a big hug from Cincinnati.
One more thing. Don’t the pies look like the little guys from *Batteries Not Included?