Linzer Heart Cookies

I'm going to really honest here for a second. I made these cookies for one reason, and one reason only: I needed to do a cutesy Valentine's Day post for today.

That being said, I do love these cookies. Flaky, buttery, sandwiched with sweet and tart rhubarb (yes, rhubarb!) jam, what's not to love? But I did make the cookies last week of all weekends for posting purposes. In fact, I even got up early so I could make them and take pictures while it was still light out, before I had to go to meetings in the afternoons. (And yes, I do need to set an alarm if I want to get up at 9:50 a.m. College life.)

It does make me wonder how many people make adorable pink baked goodies for Valentine's Day, and how much of it is food bloggers like me. I mean, I love seeing all the amazing Valentine and St. Patrick themed food on the web, but do people do it in real life?

But food blog existentialism aside, you really should make these cookies. If you're not into the cutesy Valentine thing, just change the shape of the cookies. This recipe is very similar to the shortbread I used for these Abbracci cookies, and they make wonderfully tender and delicious cookies.

The shortbread pairs wonderfully with the rhubarb jam I used because it has more sour notes than some other flavors, but you can use whatever jam  you want. (Or even Nutella! Hey, it's Valentine's Day, treat yourself!)

So enjoy! Whether or not you celebrate Valentine's Day, you should make these cookies (:

-Caroline


Linzer Heart Cookies

Yields about 3 dozen sandwich cookies

Ingredients
For the Dough
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
¼ cup cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
½ cup sugar
2 egg yolks, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For Assembly
½ cup jam
¼ cup powdered sugar

 

Directions
Mix together the flour, cornstarch, and salt.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks, and then the vanilla. Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Do not overmix.

Refrigerate the dough at least 1 hour, or overnight.

On a floured surface, roll out the dough to about half a centimeter thick. With a heart-shaped cookie cutter about 1 ½ inches wide (although any shape works!) to cut out the shapes. Place them on a greased baking sheet.

For half of the cookies, use a smaller cookie cutter to make a heart-shaped hole in the middle.

Gather up the scraps and re-roll the dough. Repeat steps 6 and 7. Continue this process until you run out of dough. Refrigerate the cookies for 1-2 hours.

Just before baking, preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes, until the edges of the cookies are barely golden.Let the cookies cool completely.

Sift powdered sugar over all the cookies that have a hole in the middle. Microwave the jam for 15-20 seconds, to thin it out. Spread about ½ teaspoon of jam on the remaining cookies. Top with a cookie that has a hole. 

Abbracci Cookies

Last year I took a class called Interracial Literature; we read OthelloAbsalom! Absalom!, lots of other cool and somewhat bizarre stories, analyzed conceptions of racial difference. Every class, my professor would bring us black and white Italian cookies, which we liked to call interracial cookies.

This particular variety is called Abbracci, which is Italian for "hug."

a. abbracci cookies 2.jpg

It's a simple shortbread cookie, a piece of chocolate dough intertwined with a piece of vanilla. Like they're hugging each other!

Shortbread is wonderfully easy to make, and if you're new to baking this is a great recipe to start with.

This cookie recipe also has slightly less sugar than most; you can increase it by another tablespoon or so, but I wouldn't recommend. The cookies I had in Italy were flaky, buttery, and had the perfect amount of sweetness, unlike their American counterparts, which tend to be too sweet. Along those lines, don't leave out the salt. I've found that salt adds a wonder complexity and depth of flavor to baked goods; they don't make things salty, but they help round out the sweetness.

Key techniques to making tender shortbread cookies is 1) not over-mixing the dough (especially when you're mixing in the cocoa and Nutella) and 2) refrigerating the dough before baking them.

There's nothing complicated or fancy about these cookies, aside from the cool shape. They're a wonderfully simple and delicious cookie, buttery and crumbly, perfect with a cup of tea and a good book.

Enjoy!
Caroline


Abbracci Cookies

Ingredients
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, softened
⅓ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon Nutell

 

Directions
With an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light, pale, and fluffy. Whisk in the vanilla extract.

With a wooden spoon or spatula, stir in the salt. Add the flour and cornstarch and mix until just combined.

Remove about half of the dough from the bowl and set aside. To the remaining dough, add the cocoa powder and Nutella and mix until incorporated.

Divide the chocolate dough into 15 pieces. Do the same for the vanilla dough. With your hands, roll each piece of dough into a 2-inch log.

Join together one vanilla and one chocolate piece of dough with the ends overlapping, to form a circle. Do this for the remaining pieces of dough.

Place the cookies on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the cookies for 15-18 minutes. They will be barely golden around the edges.

Let cool and serve!