Valentine’s Day is for kids or at least the kid in all of us. From candy hearts proclaiming “Be Mine” and foil-wrapped chocolate hearts to heart-shaped cookies, Valentine’s Day is sure to bring a smile, especially to Leslie Mackie. She’s the master baker/owner of Macrina Bakery & Cafe, with locations in the Belltown and Queen Anne neighborhoods of Seattle, and she adores Valentine’s Day.
The joy of having a bakery is in all the holidays, she says. “Customers love our frosted cookies in whimsical shapes for each season, and at Valentine’s Day, they want anything chocolate or heart-shaped. We write messages like those on the candy hearts on our cookies, and they fly out the door.”
Even though filling Macrina’s bakery cases is an all-consuming passion for Leslie, she finds time to bake treats at home with her daughter, Olivia.
“It’s a family tradition my mother started,” she says. “There’s heartfelt pleasure in making and receiving something that’s homemade and simple. Every year after Thanksgiving, my mother, sister and I would start baking for Christmas presents, and I’ve continued the tradition with Olivia. She’s the official taster, and since she also loves to paint, she always does the egg or water wash for pastry. She’s also mastering the use of cookie cutters and learning not to press too enthusiastically.”
A special Valentine’s Day project that Leslie and Olivia share is making cutout shortbread hearts to give to Olivia’s classmates. Dusted with snowy powdered sugar, tucked in pairs into cellophane bags with a Valentine’s Day card and tied with a bright red ribbon, these cookies are far better than paper cards according to Olivia’s friends. Why? “Because you can eat them!” is the joyous response of her classmates. “And they’re fascinated by the shapes, the frosting and the colored sprinkles on top,” says Leslie.
Bittersweet, extra chocolatey brownies and chewy ginger-molasses cookies are other favorites from Macrina Bakery that you’ll find easy to make with your kids for Valentine’s Day treats.
—By Judith H. Dern, a food writer in Seattle, Wash. (2/06)
For step-by-step instructions for making a chocolate ganache, click here.