Baked with Love: V-Day’s Literary Past and Alice in Wonderland-Inspired Cookies

By Hannah White

There is much debate surrounding the exact origins of Valentine’s Day. We know that the month of February has long been celebrated as a month of romance. Some believe that Valentine was a saint in Rome that defied Emperor Claudius II’s outlawing of marriage for young soldiers. Others believe the Christian church decided to celebrate Valentine’s Day in the middle of February in an effort to make the pagan celebration of Lupercalia more “Christian.” 

But what I find quite interesting about the holiday is its literary beginnings. English poet Geoffrey Chaucer was the first to write about St. Valentine’s Day as a day of romantic celebration in his poem “Parliament of Foules” (1375). In this poem he writes, “For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day / Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.”

I love books and I love baking, so for this Valentine’s Day I set off to find the perfect literary-inspired dessert to celebrate. I first thought of the 12 lemon cakes from The Great Gatsby that Nick buys and Gatsby labels just “fine.” I also researched a few Jane Austen inspired recipes because what’s more romantic than Pride and Prejudice? But I finally decided on an Alice in Wonderland, Queen of Hearts-inspired tea cookie recipe. I remember watching the movie as a child and always thinking the “EAT ME” cakes looked so delicious. But to celebrate this Valentine’s Day I wanted to make something more refined and romantic, but still inspired by Lewis Caroll’s book and its screen adaptation.

“Your heart and my heart are very old friends.” – Hafiz

I decided on these beautiful heart-shaped raspberry sandwich cookies. They pair perfectly with a cup of English tea and feel so very elegant. They are the perfect treat to make for a loved one this Valentine’s day, or to enjoy all on your own with a great book.

For these cookies, I mostly followed this recipe and doubled all of the ingredients for a larger batch. I used a heart-shaped cookie cutter and cut small round pieces on the top cookie so the raspberry jam would show through. The end result is a beautiful, crisp buttery cookie that isn’t overly sweet. The raspberry jam adds a light, tart sweetness and I heavily dusted them with powdered sugar for added sweetness and elegance.

While going out may be limited this Valentine’s Day, you can still celebrate from the comfort of home through baking and enjoying desserts or reading with a loved one. Read on for more romantic book ideas or literary recipes.

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