They are made from simple French bread dough, rolled by hand into long ropes, coated with pungent Italian cheese, and baked until crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. This bread requires two risings before the hearts are shaped, so make sure to give yourself enough time to get your CHEESY Heart-shaped Bread Sticks complete in time for your love on Valentine’s day.
CHEESY Heart-shaped Bread Sticks
- 2 1/2 cups very warm water
- 2 packages active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 6 cups all-purpose white flour
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 cup grated Italian 3 Cheese Mix (or fresh Parmesan)
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1) In a large bowl, combine the warm water, yeast, and sugar. Allow it to sit until bubbly – about 5 minutes.
2) If using a stand mixer, use a dough hook attachment. Add three cups of the flour and the salt. Mix well. Add the remaining flour. Let the mixer knead the bread for 5 minutes. If you are making the bread by hand, once the salt and flour is added and thoroughly mixed, put the dough on a floured surface and knead for 7-8 minutes.
3) Place dough in a large greased bowl and let it rise until doubled – about 1 hour.
5) Place a large pan of hot water on the bottom rack of the oven and heat the oven to 425 F. The hot water will help make the bread sticks crusty.
6) Chop the shredded cheese lightly to make smaller pieces. Mix with the garlic powder and pour out onto the working surface, behind the area where you will be shaping the hearts.
7) Cover two large baking sheets with parchment.
8) Punch the dough down and divide it into 20 even pieces.
9) Roll each piece into an 18-inch rope. After each rope is made, roll it firmly in the cheese mixture. Pinch the two ends together to form a teardrop shape. On the rounded end, push down in the middle to create the top of the heart, pinching in the middle to make a point.
10) Place 10 hearts on each cookie sheet. Bake for 18-20 minutes. Cheese should be browned and you will see a little bit of golden brown along the bottom of the hearts. Brush lightly with melted butter and sprinkle with salt. May be eaten hot or cold.
*These freeze well when wrapped tightly in foil or in a freezer bag.