Fancy cookies for Valentines big and small.

I have to confess I'm not really that great at holiday food projects.  Every year I want to make an Epiphany cake, but never do since we don't follow any ecclesiastical calendar here and I never know when to do it.  I sort of wanted to make wings for the Superbowl, but one kid had an ear infection and I ran out of time.  Once I made a gingerbread house in time for Christmas, but then none of us could figure out how or when to eat it.  We woke up one morning to find a mouse poking its whiskery nose out the candy-cane windows.

But here's the thing: I really, really, do want to make Valentine cookies.  Partly to blame is Julia Usher, whose gorgeous cookie books make it look as though anybody, really anybody,  can marble and bead a cookie.  (See those valentine hearts in the lower left of the book jacket?  Yup, that's what started it.)

Partly to blame is Zoe, a 5-year-old who loves to bake with her mom.  And partly to blame is me, a born cookie sucker with unfulfilled decorative aspirations.

I know I won't be making them next weekend, when the much-anticipated cookbook conference in New York takes place.  But maybe, with a little planning, I'll just make it on time to turn out a little basket of hearts by late afternoon on February 13th.

What's your Valentine's fix?  could it be chocolate?  Jam tarts?  Or maybe keep it simple with a nice chilled bottle of cava

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