Are the ubiquitous pastel coloured conversation hearts just 2 cute 4 u? Whether you’re looking to escape the sea of red and pink, or for something a little less cliché this Valentine’s Day, Holland’s Cake and Shake has the perfect treats.
Owner of the Hintonburg dessert shop and Pastry Overlord, Michael Holland, says he didn’t expect his “Anti-Valentine’s Day” themed confections to be so popular. The shop was open for its first Valentine’s Day last year, and with February 13th 2015 falling on a Friday, Holland explains that he was inspired to make some darker-than-usual desserts. Customers were tempted by a cake named “My Heart Is a Furnace (I’m Dead Inside)” along with cookies shaped like the angel of death. Heavy metal was the shop soundtrack for the day. He meant it all as a kind of joke, but it was a hit.
Holland isn’t against Valentine’s Day per se (though with his wedding anniversary and his wife’s birthday falling on either side of February 14th, he says they don’t really bother celebrating the Hallmark holiday), but has gotten a kick out of the popularity of his sardonic sweets.
Of course, if you’re in the mood for some more romantic indulgences, along with the ironic desserts, there will be plenty to choose from; cakes like “Pretty and Pink” and “When You Fell From Heaven” are just a couple of the deliciously lovey-dovey options.
In celebration of Saint-Valentine, Holland has kindly shared the recipe for his Black Heart Cookies along with a recipe for Squid Ink Truffles for those who are feeling adventurous in the kitchen. This shortbread cookie is the ideal canvas on which to write sweet nothings – or nothing sweet – to your valentines this weekend.
Michael Holland’s Black Heart Cookies
Yields approximately two dozen cookies
1 ½ cups flour
⅔ cup butter, room temperature
⅓ cup sugar
Vanilla extract or desired flavouring , to taste (the amount depends on the flavouring being used, but approximately 1 teaspoon should do)
1) In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine all the ingredients and mix until the dough comes together.
2) Lightly flour your work service and rolling pin. Using a little dough at a time, roll it out to about ¼-inch thickness. If you find it sticks to the table, don’t try to pick up the dough. Instead, take a metal spatula and slide it under the dough to prevent further sticking, and dust with more flour.
3) Using a heart shaped cookie cutter, cut out the dough and use the metal spatula to lift the hearts to a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
4) Bake at 350°F in a regular home oven (325°F in a convection oven) until the edges are golden brown (depending on the size of the cookie, about 10-15 minutes). Let cookies cool before icing.
Black Royal Icing
1) Combine all ingredients in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip until thick and smooth.
The texture of this royal icing can be thinned out with a little water or thickened if necessary by adding more icing sugar. Set aside a small amount of the plain white royal icing for the writing. Add a couple drops of the black gel to the rest of the icing.
On to cooled cookies, spread the icing with an offset spatula. Cover the top and make sure the icing reaches the edges. Let the icing set for at least an hour or overnight before writing on top.
With the plain royal icing, fill a piping bag or cornet and pipe whatever messages you like. “Death Becomes Me”,” Love Dies Like Everything Else”, “Love Only Exists In Movies” and “Darkness Comforts Me” are just a few suggestions.
Squid Ink Truffles
1) Using a double boiler, gently heat the chocolate until it is melted. Make sure the water in the pot does not boil or it could burn the chocolate.
2) In another small pot, bring the 35% cream to a boil. Remove from heat and add the cream to the melted white chocolate. Whisk until mixture is emulsified and smooth.
3) Add squid ink to the ganache a tablespoon at a time until desired colour is attained, whether that be a charcoal grey or black. Keep in mind that squid ink is salty, so do not add too much to your ganache. (It is not fishy so you don’t need to worry about that.)
4) While the ganache is still fluid, pour into heart shaped silicone molds (used for ice cubes or candies, available at Dollarama). Let set in the fridge for a few hours and unmold.
5) Dip the hearts into tempered white or dark chocolate and let set.
6) To get set the mood before serving the truffles to your loved one, turn off all the lights and put on some black metal. Michael Holland recommends Emperor or Marduk. Using corpse paint to adorn your face is completely optional but a nice added touch.
If DIY isn’t your thing, you can pick up these and other treats at Holland’s Cake & Shake (229 Armstrong St.). They’re open 9 am to 5:30 pm Tuesday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm Saturday, and closed Sunday and Monday. You can also find them on Twitter and Facebook.