Sunday, February 6, 2011

"Open Your Heart" Linzer Cookies

I was nine years old the first time I had my heart broken.

All through third grade, Matt was my best friend. We played keep away at recess and raced each other on the blacktop while our moms chatted after school. I'm not sure I ever called Matt my "best friend", but he was special to me, and I was happy.

Then fourth grade happened and suddenly it wasn't cool to be friends with a boy anymore. It wasn't like Matt and I had a specific conversation in which we decided we wouldn't toss the ball around at recess. Things were just suddenly and quietly different. And even though we sat next to each other in class, I knew I'd never be close to Matt in the same way again - that this change was just part of growing up - and my heart broke a little.

I call these cookies "Open Your Heart" Linzer Cookies because they remind me of a song by that name that I learned around that time - a song that just happened to be written by Matt's mother, who was the chorus teacher at school.

It's a song Becky and I still sing with each other on random car rides, not only because we not-so-secretly love singing children's songs, but because the song's message is a good one: Even if you're afraid, you've got to open your heart and trust that someone out there will love you for who you are, because you're wonderful.

I've had my heart broken a couple times since fourth grade. While these cookies look fancy, I can surely say that making "Open Your Heart" cookies is way easier than opening your heart again after it's been through the ringer. If you can make sugar cookie cutouts, you can make these linzer cookies.

Valentine's Day is coming up. If you've had your heart broken recently, perhaps making these cookies will remind you how sweet it can be to open it back up again. And if your heart is already taken, what better way to celebrate than with buttery, chocolate-y, raspberry-y goodness?

To open hearts,

"Open Your Heart" Linzer Cookies 
adapted from BakedPerfection
Makes approximately 16 sandwich cookies and 16 small heart cutouts

For cookies
2 1/3 cups flour 
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup softened butter 
2 eggs 
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

For filling
1 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup raspberry jam, room temperature
powdered sugar for sprinkling

1. Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and almond extract and mix until creamy.

2. Add dry ingredients slowly and mix until combined. Dough will be slightly sticky. Divide dough in half, wrap in plastic, and chill until firm (at least 45 minutes, or overnight).

3. When ready to bake cookies, preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment.  Remove one portion of dough from fridge and roll on a floured surface to 1/8 inch thickness. It's okay to be generous with flour. Cut rounds with a 2 1/2 inch cookie cutter and place on cookie sheet.  Place cookie sheet in freezer. (Placing cookie sheet in freezer helps cookies maintain their shape when baked.)

Note: When I make sugar cookies, I almost never use the "roll on a floured surface" method - I prefer to roll the dough between two sheets of parchment. But that DID NOT work in this case. I recommend sticking with the flour.

4. While first cookie sheet is chilling, cut out second sheet of cookies, this time cutting centers out with a heart shaped cookie cutter.  Take first baking sheet from freezer; put second one in freezer. Place first sheet in oven and bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges of cookies just start to brown and middles look set. Those with the heart cutouts may not need to bake as long as the rounds.

5. Let cookies cool on sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Continue the cycle of cutting out cookies and rotating sheets through the freezer until all dough has been used (you can re-roll the scraps), storing dough in the freezer between batches.

6.  When cookies are completely cool, melt 1 cup chocolate chips in 30 second intervals in microwave.  Stir raspberry jam so it's easily spreadable. Spread teaspoon chocolate on flat side of cookie round to within 1/8 inch of cookie sides, top with teaspoon raspberry jam. Top with cutout cookie (flat side down).

7.  To garnish, sprinkle with powdered sugar. We used a small heart cookie as a stencil to make sure we didn't get sugar on the jam. Let cookies sit for one day before serving to allow jam to soak into cookies.

1 comment:

  1. Way to open your heart, Kate :-)
    Love ya! - Mama B