Mended Heart Cookies

These cookies come with a story.  A love story.  Probably not the kind of love story you expect to hear about on Valentine’s Day.  Let me explain….

My sister and I were orphans in South Korea.  We were adopted together by my parents.  Originally, the adoption agency only wanted my parents to take my sister, because I was born with a heart defect.  Why would an American couple want a flawed baby, when there were so many healthy children available?  My parents fought and fought to adopt the two of us together.  Finally, they were successful.

We arrived in the U.S. in February.  My sister had just turned three, and I was fifteen months.  We were malnourished, had scabies, eczema, and all other kinds of medical issues.  They all cleared up, save for the bum heart.  The doctors wanted to wait until I was forty pounds before they operated on it, but I was such a scrawny kid that my mother feared I would never reach that weight.  So when I was four, they scheduled the surgery.  The doctors patched up a hole in the septum, and repaired a faulty valve.  The surgery left a scar on my chest, making me a member of the “zipper club.” Some of my earliest memories are from my days in the hospital.  My parents had the support of all their friends and family during that time.

Which brings me to these cookies.  One of my mother’s friends silk screened a shirt for me.  It had a picture of a smiley-faced heart with a little bandage on it.  It was one of a kind.  It was my favorite when I was little.  That shirt made me feel special. My mom saved it for me, along with the clothes I wore when I arrived from South Korea.  The below picture is the only one I could find of me wearing the shirt.  I was post-surgery, still in the hospital. You can see the bandage from the suture peeking out.  My son is just a bit older than I was in that picture.  He’s modeling the shirt in the picture on the right.  He calls it the “old heart shirt that you wore when you were little.”

Every time I look at this shirt, I remember what an active childhood I had, full of running around outside, climbing trees, playing tag with the neighbors.  All these things that I would not have been able to do had I not had that heart surgery.  Had I not been chosen by parents who wouldn’t give up their fight to adopt a child that no one wanted.
So on this Valentine’s Day, I share with you the love that enabled me to live.  My heart has been broken many times since, but it always emerged mended and strong.

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Persian Love Cake

This is one of my favorite desserts. The first time I made it was three years ago, for Valentine’s Day. It is rich, without feeling heavy. As much as I love chocolate, this is a nice change. The saffron, cardamom, rose, and pistachios give the dessert an exotic flavor.


This was the first time I made sugared flowers, and I learned a few things. The egg whites started to go flat as I worked, so I had to keep re-beating them. I sprinkled too much sugar on the first few petals. Once dry, the sugar showed up much better.


Adapted from Bon Appétit
June 2005

Persian Love Cake

Persian Love Cake

Ingredients

Candied Rose Petals
1 large egg white
¼ c sugar
Petals from 2 organic roses
Cake
1 c cake flour
14 Tbs superfine sugar, divided
1 ½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp kosher salt
3 large eggs, separated
6 Tbs water
¼ c canola oil
1 tsp fresh lemon zest
½ tsp ground cardamom
Frosting
2 c chilled heavy whipping cream
Pinch saffron threads
2/3 c powdered sugar
1 tsp rose water
Garnish
2 Tbs natural, unsalted pistachios, chopped

Instructions

  1. For the candied rose petals:
  2. Whisk egg white in a small bowl until foamy. Using a pastry brush, paint a light coat of egg white onto both sides of the rose petals. Sprinkle lightly with sugar. Dry on a wire rack for at least 6 hours.
  3. For the cake:
  4. Preheat oven to 325˚. Butter the bottom and sides of 2 8-inch cake pans. Line the bottom with parchment paper; butter the parchment.
  5. Sift flour, 7 Tbs of the sugar baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg yolks, water, canola oil, lemon zest, and cardamom. Add to the dry ingredients, and whisk until smooth.
  6. Beat egg whites in a medium bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 7 Tbs of sugar. Beat until egg whites resemble thick marshmallow fluff. Fold the whites into the batter in 3 additions. Divide batter between the prepared pans. Bake until cakes are golden and toothpick inserted into the center comes clean, 20-25 minutes. Cool in pans on racks for 15 minutes. Turn onto racks, peel off parchment, and cool completely.
  7. For the frosting:
  8. Combine ½ c cream and saffron in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Remove from heat, and let steep 20 minutes. Chill until cold.
  9. Beat remaining cream in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar, rose water, and saffron cream and beat until peaks form.
  10. Stack and frost cake with whipped cream. Chill at least 1 hour. Top with rose petals and pistachios.
http://kokocooks.com/2011/02/persian-love-cake/

 

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