The Other 4-Letter Word


Ah, Love. Never was there an emotion so tailor-made for the idea that without pain there is no joy. That Eros can be one tough bastard. But we’d all go there anyway, because when it’s real, there’s nothing better. Not even chocolate. Next week is Valentine’s Day, the mother of all Hallmark holidays, and a time fraught with just about every emotion named. Depending upon the mood and attachments (or lack thereof), it can be known as a good day, a great day, or Black Tuesday. Which means next Tuesday could be a time to honor love, or commemorate the mowing down of men in a Chicago garage. Either way, from the minute the holiday lights are taken down and the streets are littered with the corpses of Christmas trees, the world becomes a sea of pink and red hearts. When you are in love, this seems like an awfully swell thing. When you aren’t, or worse, have just ended a bout of it, the other other 4-letter-word creeps into your thoughts. Or spews forth from your lips. We’ve all been there, and it ain’t pretty. Weeping, screeching, gnashing of teeth, rending of clothes (theirs, if they happened to leave any behind), consumption of buckets of ice cream, or vodka, or both, all part of the dance l’amour. Love makes you a bit crazy from beginning to end. Especially the end. And everybody has ‘a story’. You know, the one you tell your best friends, once you are fit to be out in public again without a box of Kleenex, bottle of Stoli and pint of Cherry Garcia. I know someone who actually had to break up with herself because he couldn’t get up the courage to do it. He just stood there looking forlornly at the ground and shuffling his feet. So she took the bull by the horns and did it herself. “You want to break up with me,” said she. “Uh-huh” said he. All very calm, very civil. And after he left, she calmly wandered around the house, collecting the few pieces of him left here and there in a plastic bag. As she walked to the trashcan she passed the litter box. She scooped, dropped poop on top of ‘poop’, and in the can it went. A fitting coda to the end of a love affair. Sure, they don’t all end that elegantly. Screaming assorted 4-letter expletives (and 7-letter, and 5-letter) works too, with the exclamation point of a loud door-slam for added emphasis.

Lest you think I’m jaded when it comes to affairs of the heart, I’m not. I LOVE love. I’ve been in it 3 times so far (not including Bobby Sherman when I was 14), and I’m not finished yet. One was my first, one was my worst, and one I will always carry a teeny torch for. They lit me up, made me feel like the most amazing woman in the world, and two of them broke my heart, but not irreparably. I think of them as V-Day approaches, mostly with a smile. Except for the S.O.A.B.R.B., but you can read about that one on your own (The SOABRB Dinner Party.) With each love came joy and pain, and I try not to dwell on the pain part too much. Like the Dalai Lama said, “pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”. And love could be just around the corner.

While nothing is better than love, a cookie wrapped in chocolate is an attractive understudy. These Cinnamon & Chocolate Hearts were the favorite of a favorite of mine. Make them for your honey or just for yourself. After all, you deserve a sweet Valentine too.

Cinnamon & Chocolate Hearts

Makes about 24-30 cookies, depending upon the size of your cookie cutter

  • 1/2 cup softened butter (1 stick)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 TBSP cream or milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate (you can substitute your favorite chocolate.) There will probably be leftover melted chocolate, so I usually pick up some dried apricots, candied orange peel, pretzels or fresh strawberries when I know I’m making these cookies for a little extra dip-worthy delight.

Additional equipment: heart-shaped cookie cutter

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Thoroughly cream the butter. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Beat in egg, then milk and vanilla. In a separate bowl mix together all the dry ingredients, then add them to the butter mixture and incorporate thoroughly. Knead the dough in the bowl until it comes together in a ball, then pat out into a disk. Wrap in cling film and chill for 30 minutes.  Roll out the dough to about ¼” thick and cut out into hearts. Collect the scraps and re-roll (try not to add too much flour or you’ll get tough cookies.) Bake for 10-12 minutes on parchment lined cookie sheets. Cool completely on rack before dipping.

Melt chocolate over a water bath (bowl over simmering water) or in the microwave (use 30 second intervals so you don’t scorch the chocolate). Dip one half of the cookie in the chocolate. Cool on parchment or wax paper covered tray at room temp for about 30 minutes then put in fridge for the chocolate to harden completely. Store in an airtight container in a cool place. I like to store in fridge and bring to room temperature before serving. These freeze well too. Calories: approximately 125 per cookie…but you can figure out a way to ‘burn’ that off!  😉

Article first published as The Other 4-Letter Word on Technorati.

6 thoughts on “The Other 4-Letter Word

  1. I think you should just move to Hood River the ratio of single men to women is 6 to 1 , you can work with me I need someone like you to help me get this bakery going, we could cook, bake and drink a bit of wine. there would be a lot of laughing involved. You would however need fewer heels and more Blundstone’s, Dansko’s and Wellies.
    just a thought
    I love reading your blog Happy Valentines Day

  2. Sounds perfect for VD! We often reserve Valentine’s Day for revenge movies. But maybe this year we will just make these cookies and eat the whole batch. That’s a balanced diet, right? Butter and cream = protein and dairy, flour = fiber and chocolate = vegetable!

  3. Oh man – this looks amazing and love your story too – Happy Valentine’s Day and here’s to you finding the right one as long as we can always have the SOABRB Dinner! If he understands that concept – he’ll be the right one!

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