It’s strange that I had no desire to make a Thanksgiving or Christmas feast, or some black eye peas concoction for New Year’s, yet I’ve been obsessed with Valentine’s Day inspired meals and desserts since the end of December. This obsession includes heart-shaped baking and serving paraphernalia. Back in December I realized I really wanted to do some sort of heart-shaped cookie. In my search for recipes, I found many linzer cookie recipes that used heart-shaped cookie cutters or round shaped cutters with smaller heart shapes to cut out the window pane. I liked the look of the latter the best and searched every store that sold bakeware in my area. I was annoyed when I couldn’t find any, but was able to order what I wanted from Amazon. That was just the beginning. During one of my patrols at Target, I found a pack of individual size springform pans (tiny cheesecakes, anyone?) and a cute heart -shaped serving plate. It didn’t end there. I purchased 2 miniature heart- shaped tart pans at a drug store. I told you I was obsessed. I was gaga for hearts, and I’m someone who usually doesn’t even celebrate Valentine’s. I don’t know what’s gotten into me but it should result in several tasty offerings. First up: Linzer Cookies
Linzer cookies are the cookie version of Linzertortes, ( Linzer torte or Linzer tart) a popular and traditional dessert in Austria , Switzerland , Germany and other European countries. It is usually served at Christmas time as are the cookies here in North America. The dough in both desserts is flour, butter, a little sugar, and usually ground nuts, like almonds or hazelnuts. It is crumbly, buttery, nutty, and just slightly sweet. The tart is filled with jam and covered with strips of dough forming a lattice design on top. The cookies are sandwich cookies, usually with a shape cut out of the top cookie. You may have seen them with the circular cut out in bakeries or christmas tree cut outs around the Holidays. With heart-shaped cutters available, I thought it would be a great dessert for Valentine’s Day. I hope you agree. I hope my good friend Martin and his wife Michelle agree too because I’ve packed some away in a darling gift box (covered in hearts) for them as an early Vday gift. Enjoy!
Adaptation of Martha Stewart Linzer Sandwich recipe
Yields: About 16 cookies
- 5 ounces slivered almonds without skins (1 cup)
- 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon table salt
- Powdered sugar, for dusting
- 2/3 cup fruit jam of your liking (I used strawberry)
- Place almonds in a food processor, and process until finely ground. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg, and beat until smooth, about 3 minutes. Beat in vanilla.
- Whisk together ground almonds, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add to butter mixture; beat on low until combined, about 2 minutes. Form dough into two flattened disks, wrap each with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Have ready two baking sheets lined with Silpats or parchment paper. Also have ready one 2 1/2-inch round fluted cookie cutter and one 3/4-inch cookie cutter. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out half the dough to a 1/4-inch thickness. Using the 3-inch fluted cutter, cut out cookies. With a wide spatula, transfer cookies to the prepared baking sheets. Using the smaller cutter, cut the centers out of half of the cookies. Repeat rolling and cutting with the other half of the dough. *Combine the scraps from both batches, reroll and cut.
- Bake until the edges are golden, 12 to 16 minutes, rotating halfway through. Remove from oven; place on wire racks until completely cool.
- Lightly sift powdered sugar over the cut-out tops; set aside. Spread a s tablespoon of jam on the bottoms of each cookie, and sandwich with the sugar-dusted tops.
*Notes: If you notice that your dough is getting sticky while you are cutting out the cookies, form it back into a disk and place in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes. I kept the second disk of dough in the fridge and alternated between doughs when I rerolled the dough scraps. You will also need to reflour your workspace and rolling pin often.