I’m not a huge fan of valentines day…I was even published as saying so as a 1st grader in the Pasadena Star News:
“I don’t care about all that stuff!” [a classmate of mine] wailed as he dug eagerly into his cache of Valentine goodies. “I just like the candy.”
Although his classmate, Heather Jensen, was not as quick to turn up her nose at the romantic side of Valentine’s Day, she did agree about the sweets.
“I used to have a boyfriend, but he broke up with me,” The 6 1/2 year old said wistfully.
Although I still to this day have no idea what boyfriend I was talking about…some things have remained the same. Love the treats!!!
For my nerdy valentine’s, I have made 2 treats! Heart-Shaped Linzer Cookies filled with Raspberry Jam or Nutella & Heart-Shaped Pink Meringues.
Linzer Cookies are a very interesting cookie dough; rather than being completely flour based for the starch, a good third of the starch comes from ground almonds! And while the dough itself tastes strange (maybe even exotic?), the cookies are just delightful. There are 2 varieties of Linzer cookies – White & Brown – and the color depends on whether or not you toast the almonds. I’ll leave that decision to you, but I left my almonds un-toasted for simplicity. Finally, you’ll need a food processor to grind the almonds. You’ll also need 2 cookie cutters – one to cut your initial cookie shape (I used a medium sized heart) and a 2nd to cut out a “window” in the top cookie. When they are baked, you sandwich 2 cookies with your filling of choice, and the “window” in the top cookie lets you view the lovely color of the filling!
Linzer Cookies with Jam or Nutella filling:
1 C slivered almonds
2 C all purpose flour
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t salt
1 C unsalted butter (2 sticks), room temp
2/3 C sugar
1.5 t vanilla extract
2 egg yolks (reserve the egg whites in a glass or metal bowl for the meringue)
1 t lemon zest
~1/4 C each Raspberry Jam &/or Nutella
Directions: Use a food processor to grind the almonds to a fine texture. (If you have toasted the almonds, add 1/4 C sugar to the food processor to keep the almonds from turning to paste.) In a small bowl, mix the flour, cinnamon, salt. In a large bowl, beat the room temperature butter with the sugar until creamy (~3 min) with your hand mixer. Add the egg yolks, vanilla extract, and lemon zest and beat to combine. Add the ground nuts to the bowl, and beat to combine. Finally, add the flour and mix into the dough with your hands. The dough will be very soft, so you should refrigerate the dough for at least an hour (or overnight) to make rolling it out easier. After chilling the dough, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to 0.25″ thick. Cut your cookies with your favorite shape cookie cutter. Cut out a “window” with a smaller cookie cutter in half of the cookies. Bake for 12-14 minutes (or until the edges just BARELY brown). Cool on a wire rack completely. Repeat with the remaining dough. After the cookies have chilled, spread ~1 tsp of your filling on the bottom cookie, and top with a “window” cookie. This recipe made 26 medium sized cookies.
And if you know anything about me, you know that any recipe that used only egg yolks automatically means I’ll be making meringues. I love meringue cookies because you can eat a million of them for a very low-calorie treat…and they’re delicious! 🙂 By piping them into heart shapes, it turns them into a perfect V-day treat!
2 egg whites
1/4 t cream of tartar (or vinegar or lemon juice if you don’t have this on hand)
1/2 C powdered sugar
Directions: Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. In a glass or metal bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy with a wire whisk. Add the cream of tartar (or substitute) and continue beating until you have soft peaks (the peaks will droop as you pull the whisk out of the eggs). Add powdered sugar SLOWLY to the egg whites and continue beating until you see stiff peaks. The meringue will look very glossy and if you rub it between your fingers, you should not feel any granulated sugar. (If it feels “gritty” continue to beat. The sugar just needs to dissolve more.) Gently mix in ~5 drops of red food coloring to make them pink. 🙂 Fill a piping bag with your meringue. Practice piping heart shapes into the bowl. Once you’ve got the hang of it, pipe small hearts onto parchment paper or other cookie sheet liner. Bake the cookies for about 1-1.5 hours at 200 degrees. You’ll know they are done when the cookies peel off the parchment paper easily. Turn off the oven and crack open the door, and leave the cookies in the oven overnight to continue drying. This recipe made 95 small hearts.
So wish everyone in your life a happy hallmark card day, and celebrate the love in your life with a cookie!