The pickle man

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Linzer Cookies

Linzer Cookies

I "heart" my Valentines!

Three snow days happened to coincide with Valentine's Day this year.  

My front yard looked like a sheet of ice, so we did what any good Louisiana family would.  We dressed the kids in their warmest clothes (all of which are designed for hunting and are therefore camouflaged). 
Then my husband pulled out this black thing that he uses to pull his duck decoys through the mud during duck season.  Apparently, it has an official name: duck decoy sled.  

Even though the children are hardly decoys, it made for an amazing morning flying down the ice-covered levee.

When we got tired of being cold and wet, the kids piled in front of a movie and I decided to bake... because honestly, why would I disturb the laundry, sitting there so peacefully?

I've been eyeing various renditions of these Linzer cookies for a week or so.  Ultimately, I decided on Ina Garten's, primarily because (unlike true Linzers), they don't have any nuts in them. 

I couldn't decide what to fill them with, so we tested out Nutela and seedless raspberry preserves.  Dixon strongly preferred the raspberry-filled, plus they looked more festive.  But my friend Lisa persuaded me to try one with both Nutella and raspberry, and to me, those were the best!

"Linzer" cookies (adapted, barely from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook)

3/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

Raspberry preserves or Nutella to fill
Powdered sugar for dusting

To make the cookies:
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the soft butter and sugar, mixing until well-combined.  Add the salt and vanilla, beating well.  Add the flour.  Beat on low until the dough starts to come together - this will take a little over a minute.  The mixture will appear grainy at first, and then will start to form larger lumps.  Scoop out approximately 1/3 of the dough and place it on a rectangle of plastic wrap.  Using the wrap, shape the dough into a flat disk.  Repeat two more times until you have 3 separate flat disks.  Chill these for 30 minutes or more.

When you remove the dough from the fridge, roll it out to 1/4 an inch thick on a well-floured surface.  You will need two cookie cutters, one large and one small (of course for Valentine's Day, I used hearts.  I'm nerdy like that).  Cut approximately 20 heart shapes using the larger cutter.  Then with half of the hearts, go back and cut out a smaller middle heart.   Carefully transfer the shapes onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet.

You may also bake the little hearts that you cut out, but I recommend doing them on a separate baking sheet, since they cook MUCH faster. 

Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes (depending on how thin you rolled the hearts).  The baking time for the smaller cookies was closer to 10 minutes.

Allow the cookies to cool to room temperature. 

Dust the top sections with powdered sugar (I use an old flour sifter for this, but a sieve also works great). 

Spread the bottoms with Nutella, raspberry preserves, or a mixture of both. 

Carefully place the top section on the bottom section. 

These will keep for 2-3 days.  If you're making them in advance, the unbaked dough will last up to a week in the fridge.