Valentine’s Day is Sunday but if you haven’t gotten something for your sweetie, don’t panic. Instead of grabbing a heart-shaped box of chocolates from CVS, why not try making one of these recipes from NJ local shops? Since we’re all becoming expert bakers during the pandemic, these recipes will seem relatively easy! You can even turn these into a fun project to do with the kids over the weekend. Read on for these extra special recipes that will make February 14 even sweeter!



Heart-Shaped Butter Cookies with Frosting

By Erica Leahy of Three Daughters Baking Co.

1875 Springfield Ave, Maplewood

Recipe yields between 2 and 3 dozen cookies depending on size.


Cookie ingredients:

All-purpose flour 3 cups (420 grams)

Powdered sugar 1 cup (120 grams)

Salt 1/2 teaspoon

Butter 8oz (227g)

Egg yolks 4 each (80 grams)

Vanilla extract 1 teaspoon


Place the sugar, salt and flour into a food processor and pulse a few times to mix. Add the cold butter and mix until the butter has formed little pebbles. Add the egg yolks and vanilla extract and continue to mix until a dough has formed. Turn out onto plastic wrap, cover and allow to chill for a minimum of 20 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. On a lightly floured counter roll out the dough to a 1/4′ thickness. Cut out the cookies into heart shapes and place onto baking sheets. We like to bake on silpats, but if you don’t have those use parchment paper. Be sure to save any and all scrapes and continue to reroll and cut out cookies until all of the dough is used. Place into the preheated oven and bake for about 10 minutes, rotating once during the cooking. Once they are cooked remove from the oven and allow to cool on cooling racks.


Frosting ingredients:

Powdered sugar 16oz (453 grams)

Egg whites 3 each (90 grams)

Salt pinch

Pink gel food coloring if using – 5 drops

Red gel food coloring if using – 5 drops


In a medium bowl whisk together the sugar, egg whites and salt. If using more than one color separate the frosting base into two bowls and then color each bowl, respectively.

Once the cookies have cooled dip them into the frosting on only one side and return to the pan until the frosting has set up. If you would like to add sprinkles or any other fun decoration do so before the frosting has had time to set up.



Heart-Shaped Apple Hand Pies

By Jen Carson of LiLLiPiES Bakery (find more recipes in her cookbook)

301 North Harrison Street, Princeton

Yield: 2 hand pies

Crust Ingredients:                                                                               

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick (1/4 pound) unsalted butter, ICE-COLD and cubed (1/2” dice)

2-3 tbsp. ICE-COLD water

egg wash (1 egg, beaten with 1 tbsp. water)


Filling Ingredients:                                                                                                                    

1 baking apple (Staymans, Granny Smith, or Golden Delicious)

1 Tbsp butter                                                                                                                                     

2 Tbsp granulated sugar                                                                                                                   

1 Tbsp all-purpose flour                                                                                                   

1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

½ tsp ground cinnamon (optional)                                                                                                                

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

Prepare your pie dough.

In a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, salt and butter.  (Alternately, you can cut the butter into the dry ingredients by hand with a pastry cutter, 2 knives, or your fingers.)

When butter pieces are the size of small peas, add 2-3 Tbsp. ICE-COLD water. Pulse until combined.  Shape dough into a flat square, wrap in plastic, and chill for at least 5 minutes, preferably 30 minutes.

Now, make the apple filling:

Peel, core, and dice your apples. In a large sauté pan, add your prepared apples, butter, granulated sugar, flour, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, ground cinnamon. Cook over medium heat just until the butter is melted and the apples have just lost their crispness, about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent browning.  This pre-cooking allows the apples to cook perfectly in your hand pie.  Take the apples off of the heat and allow the mixture to cool COMPLETELY. (You can speed up this process by removing the apples from the hot pan and placing them on a cool cookie sheet or large plate.)

Back to your pie crust…  Roll out chilled dough to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut out 4 heart shapes using a heart cookie cutter, about 3 inches in diameter.  Place about 2 Tbsp apple filling into the center of 2 of the hearts.  Brush the outer edge of all of the hearts with egg wash (with a pastry brush or a clean finger).  Place the two hearts without filling on top of the two hearts with filling, enclosing the filling.  Press and crimp with a fork to seal.

Place prepared hand pies onto a baking sheet lined with baking parchment.  If possible, place into the freezer for 10 minutes before baking.

Just before baking, poke fork holes into the center of the top crust to allow steam to escape while baking.  If you’d like a shiny top, brush tops of pocket pies with more egg wash and sprinkle with extra sugar (optional). Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until nicely browned.  Allow to cool slightly before serving. Garnish with powdered sugar if desired.  Enjoy!

Note: Feel free to fill your hand pies with other fillings. Elderberry jam, Nutella, ham and cheese all work very well. Use your imagination.


Pie Pointers from Jen:

  1. Allow fruit flavors to shine through; don’t add too many spices or too much sugar to your fruit fillings.
  2. Keep your crust ingredients COLD.
  3. Work as quickly as you can.  If you find that your butter is starting to melt, stop and get everything into the fridge pronto!
  4. Don’t overwork your dough.  Handling your dough too much will not only melt your butter but will also develop too much gluten. (Too much gluten = tough crust)
  5. Don’t add too much water to your crust.  Add just enough to bring the dough together. (Too much water means too much gluten = tough crust.)
  6. If AT ALL possible, use a food processor/Cuisinart! Those sharp, rotating blades can cut butter into flour WAY more quickly than you or I can by hand. (See tip number 3).
  7. When baking your pie, don’t under-cook your bottom crust. Maillard Reaction & caramelization (browning of your crust) equals FLAVOR. If you find that the top of your pie is baking more quickly than the bottom of your pie, cover the top loosely with aluminum foil.
  8. Remember: pies are MEANT to look rustic.  All of those imperfections make a pie appetizing and inviting.
  9. If at all possible, line your baking sheet with baking parchment. It makes removing the finished pie from the pan much easier- and helps with clean up.