Cœur, masculine noun (un cœur, le cœur, des cœurs) = heart (pronounce cur, like a mongrel dog in English).
Lots of expressions use the word cœur, of course, we are in France after all, le pays de l’amour, des amoureux.
Le cœur brisé = broken hearted; en avoir le cœur net = to be clear in one’s mind about something; le cœur dur = hard hearted; and also avoir mal au cœur = to feel sick, in the sense of vomiting; but ça me fait mal au cœur = it makes me sick, in the sense disgusted; parler à cœur ouvert = to speak openly, to open one’s heart; avoir un cœur de pierre = to have a heart of stone… I could go on and on.
And while we are analyzing French words, why is a biscuit called a biscuit? Because it is cooked twice (bis = a second time, cuit= cooked). To make it very crisp.
Valentine’s day is just around the corner, so hearts are the order of the day. My recipe comes from my Mother, and is for petits cœurs au fromage, cheesy apéritif biscuits, which I have done heart shaped for the circumstance, but which you can make round or square. They are quite filling and totally irresistible, so make them smallish, or your guest(s) will not be hungry for the festivities that follow.
This recipe is a very good way of using up left-overs on a cheeseboard. The cheese must still be good of course, but it does not need to be presentable. Blue cheese should not be used either, it does not make an attractive biscuit, but hard cheeses, goat’s cheese, a little soft cheese, whatever you have to hand. It should be quite strong in flavour so that your biscuits have bite.
For about 25 small biscuits you will need:
- 100gr strong cheese cut into cubes or grated
- 100gr soft butter (not melted, just not hard out of the fridge)
- 100gr plain flour
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
- 4,5 dl milk
- Pre-heat the oven at 160°C.
- Put all the ingredients except the milk into a mixer and blend well to break up the cheese.
- Add the milk gradually until the mixture becomes a pastry ball.
- Flour a working surface and roll out to about half a centimetre thick (a scant quarter inch).
- With a heart shaped cookie cutter, or a small glass or round cookie cutter, or even free hand to get a nice small biscuit, cut shapes and place on a baking tray.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden but do keep an eye on them, if they cook for too long, the cheese burns and becomes bitter.
- Remove from the oven and cool on a cake rack so that they do not go soft.
These biscuits may be made in advance, and keep very well in an airtight tin for a week or so. They are buttery and a little crumbly and delicious.
And they smell so fantastic when they come out of the oven.