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A pastry heart is basically any heart-shaped pastry item. The most common type of pastry heart is a sweet treat common in northern New York state in the United States, and particularly in Buffalo, New York. This type of pastry heart is puff pastry that has been shaped into a heart and frosted or glazed. Other types of pastry hearts can also be heart-shaped pieces cut out of pastry, which can be used in a few ways. Pastry hearts can be plain, frosted, or filled with cream or fruit.
Puff pastry is a flaky dough that is carefully rolled out in a way that creates layers of fat and dough that make the final product flaky. This type of pastry can be made by hand, but is also available in the frozen section at many supermarkets. It can be used for both sweet and savory dishes.
The pastry heart common to northern New York is created by rolling, then slicing refrigerated puff pastry in a way that makes the pastry slices resemble a heart. It is flaky on the outside and soft on the inside. The method used to make these types of pastry hearts is similar to that used to make another pastry called Orejas, or palm leaves. Upon examining a pastry heart, the puff pastry visibly appears to have been rolled rather than cut with a cookie cutter or shaped using another method.
For this type of pastry heart, the puff pastry is rolled out flat with a rolling pin, then the sides of the flattened pastry are rolled in toward each other to create a rounded top with two bumps, like that seen on the top of a heart shape. To make the shape look more like a heart, some bakers work the dough into a point at the bottom, but they are more often left rounded at the bottom. They are then baked and swept with sweet glaze or frosted in a heart shape, normally using a white frosting made with powdered sugar.
While the pastry heart common in New York is rolled and sliced, pastry hearts in other regions are often cut out using heart-shaped cookie cutters. In this case, the baker will roll the dough out flat with a rolling pin, cut the heart shapes out, and bake the heart-shaped pieces until they are crispy. This type of pastry heart is usually served with two pastry hearts sandwiching sweet filling like whipped cream and fruit preserves in the middle, somewhat like a less dense, flakier sandwich cookie.