Make dinner tonight, inspired!

Wondering what to make for dinner tonight? This is your place for quick and healthy meal inspirations. Here you'll find recipes for seasonally focused dinners, desserts, breakfasts, and everything in between.

My cooking focuses on the freshest ingredients prepared in a simple and careful way, to highlight their uniqueness. My own diet is primarily vegetarian, but does include sustainable fish and seafood, and is gluten free.

Thank you for reading. I look forward to sharing some of my favorite recipes with you!

11 February 2010

Valentine's Day Cookies

I've been baking like crazy this week, preparing sweet treats for customers and friends and family in celebration of Valentine's Day. I've made a zillion of these Raspberry Linzer Heart Cookies so far. They're so pretty and delicious and loved by all. 

The Linzer cookie starts with a hazelnut dough which retains its nutty flavor once baked. I prefer to use fresh ground hazelnuts rather than store bought hazelnut flour here as I enjoy the bigger nut pieces in my cookie dough. I also prefer to leave the raspberry jam unstrained in the little cookie 'windows'. I happen to like the seeds, it makes me think perhaps I'm eating some actual fruit with my cookie, which maybe makes the cookie a little healthy... right?

I wanted to share the recipe, in case you felt inspired to bake a batch in celebration of the upcoming holiday. I certainly can't think of a better way to share your love for another than with beautiful, freshly made, sweet and nutty cookies. Enjoy!!

Raspberry Linzer Heart Cookies:
Yields about 36, 3" sandwiched cookies

For the cookie dough:
12 oz unsalted butter, at room temperature (2 1/2 sticks)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs, at room temperature
3 3/4 cups All Purpose Flour (I used unbleached Spelt)
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 cups hazelnuts, toasted and ground

For the filling and decor:
8 ounces Raspberry Jam (I used Bon Maman)
2 tsp sugar
powdered sugar for sprinkling

1) Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Spread your hazelnuts out into a single layer and toast until fragrant and just golden, about 8-10 minutes.
Once cool enough to handle, rub them together in a clean kitchen towel to remove the skins. Place in your food processor and grind to a medium fine meal. Set aside.

2) In a stand mixer, cream your butter and sugar with the paddle. Sift together the flour, cinnamon and baking powder. Add in your ground hazelnuts. Stir to combine.

3) Add eggs, one at a time to butter and sugar mixture, scraping down the bowl between additions until well combined. Stir in the vanilla extract. Add the dry ingredients, 1/2 at a time, until just combined. Pat the finished dough into a disk (or two) and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator at least 2 hours before using or overnight (ideal). Any extra dough can be frozen for up to 3 months.

To assemble and finish the cookies:

1) Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. On a well floured board, working in batches, roll out your dough to 1/8" thick. Use a 3" heart shaped cutter to cut out the bottoms of the cookies. Use a 2" fluted heart shaped cutter to cut out the windows in the tops of the cookies. Make sure that you cut out equal quantities of cookie tops and cookie bottoms.

2) Place the cookie cutouts on your lined baking sheets and refrigerate the dough until chilled, about 15 minutes. Bake the chilled dough until just golden, about 12-15 minutes, taking care not to overbake.

3) While the cookies are cooling, heat the raspberry jam & 2 tsp sugar in the microwave. The jam should come to a full boil. Remove it and give it a quick stir. Sandwich the pairs of cookie tops and bottoms together. Pour the hot jam into a piping bag and flood the window of the cookies with the hot jam. Yes, it's hot and yes, it burns your hands while piping. Alternately, you can spoon the jam into each window, taking care not to get any on the sides of the cookies.

4) Once the cookies are sandwiched together and filled with jam, and while the jam is still warm (that part is important!), sift the powdered sugar over the top of the cookies. If the jam is still warm, it will melt the powdered sugar and leave you with a clear, red raspberry window and will adhere to the outside of the cookies only.

Let the jam and cookies cool completely and enjoy! These can be stored in airtight bags up to 3 days.

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