Mary Anne here. Like most of us, I spend Valentine’s Day indulging in the most delicious, most decadent foods I can find. As a young woman, I loved Valentine’s Day not only for the traditional sweetheart reasons (and promise of gifts with gold and glitter!), but also as another occasion to celebrate the blessing of my three amazing kids!
When they were mere tots, I embraced the “holiday” with the same gusto I reserve for Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Halloween – tons of enthusiasm and ridiculous amounts of planning and prepping. Every year, my children awakened to a breakfast chock-full of heart-felt treats. They dined on “Eggs in a Hat”, the “hat of toast” cut out in a heart shape (what else!) served with a generous side of crisp bacon; a meal not usually served on hectic–hurry up-you’ll–be-late-Mariel-walk–the-dog school days.
I tucked enormous chocolate bars beside each holiday-inspired place setting along with cards hand-picked for each child’s dear qualities. Lunch bags were crammed with more chocolate, gushy notes, and pastel sugar candy hearts bearing entreaties to “Be Mine”. In return, my little tribe showered me with sugary kisses and dazzling handmade cards. Makes me smile just remembering our shared pleasure in the sweet details of that day.
All of this reminiscing leads me to why I chose to spotlight Linzer Tarts for our V-Day post. Not only are they delicious and appropriately festive, but as “cut-out” cookies, they are perfect for preparing with your own little Valentines. These are sandwich cookies, with jam in the middle and a thick dusting of confectioner’s sugar on top. Made with basic shortbread dough, they are buttery and sweet, but very crumbly, so be gentle during the final assembly or your cookies will definitely crumble. (This may be where the expression “crumb snatchers “ arose!)
However you spend this ode to Eros, we wish you a very happy day, from the bottom of our raspberry jam-crammed hearts.
Linzer Tarts for Your Valentine’s Day Sweetheart
Note: You will need a large cookie sheet, a flour sifter, a 2- cookie cutter and a 1-inch cookie cutter. I used a round, 2-inch cookie cutter for the bottom cookie, and my smallest heart shaped cookie cutter for the cut out top cookie.
2 sticks sweet butter, softened to room temperature – stock
¼ Teaspoon salt – stock
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract – stock
½ cup Confectioner’s sugar – stock
2 cups flour – stock
8 oz. jar raspberry or strawberry preserves – $0.99
additional Confectioner’s sugar for dusting – stock
Grand Total Assuming Well-Stocked Pantry: $0.99
Total Per Cookie: $0.08
1. Using a mixer, cream the butter with the sugar. Add the vanilla, blending well to incorporate.
2. Very gradually, stir in the flour, either using a wooden spoon or the lowest setting on the mixer. Note: This is a very dry mixture and will resemble coarse meal. Do not over mix.
3. Dip your hands in flour to prevent sticking and gather the dough into a loose ball, gently kneading the mixture until thoroughly combined.
4. Transfer the dough to a large piece of plastic wrap. Gentle press the ball into a flat disc. Cover with the plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
5.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough until about ¼ inch thick. Using the 2-inch cookie cutter, cut out the cookies and place on an un-greased cookie sheet.
6. Gather the scraps into a ball and re-roll. Cut out more cookies with the 2-inch cutter and then cut out the center of each with the smaller, heart-shaped cutter. Continue re-rolling and cutting out cookies until the dough is all used and you have an equal number of tops and bottoms.
7. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until pale gold with just a hint of light brown along the edges.
8. Carefully transfer the cookies to wire racks and cool completely. Note: It is helpful to cool the tops on their own rack, set over a piece of waxed paper.
9. Using the flour sifter, dust the cut out tops with Confectioner’s sugar.
10. Place the round bottoms on a piece of waxed paper. Spread about 2 Teaspoons of the preserves on each bottom cookie: Do not pick the cookie up as it might crumble. Spread the preserves evenly with a small butter knife, leaving a rim without jam along the edges. (If you spread it too close to the edges, the preserves will squish out!)
11. Place the sugared tops on the jellied bottoms and carefully transfer to a serving platter. These can be prepared the day before. Cover with plastic wrap if not serving the same day.