Monday, February 10, 2014

Valentine Linzer tarts


Last week was just plain hard. I had dental work, and my mouth hurt for days afterward. It snowed, on and off, for a few days. I happen to like snow, in moderate amounts. But we usually don't get enough snow here to really enjoy playing in it. This was the case last week. The small Bears were confined indoors because it was very cold outside and the snow was the wet, slushy kind, not so good for playing in. The LB was sick again, too. He started showing signs of illness on Tuesday night and by Wednesday morning, he had a high fever and a terrible cough. He stayed home from school for the rest of the week. The GB was feeling well, and went to preschool as normal, but cabin-fever was becoming an issue around here. By Thursday afternoon, I was feeling a bit squirrelly myself, and I decided to bake some Valentine's Day cookies with them. I was going to do this anyway, perhaps over the weekend, but it's a good thing I decided to do it early; by Friday morning, I too had a fever and a bad cough. I spent much of the weekend lying uselessly on the couch, side-by-side with the still-recovering LB*. I'm on the mend now, still coughing a lot and feeling run-down, but at least we've had cookies to eat while we've convalesced...silver linings and all that.

The cookies are delicious, and they were relatively easy to make, though there were a fair number of steps. I really love the Linzer tart cookies at a little bakery-cafe the Bear and I sometimes visit on Private Fridays. They make them with a buttery dough and delicious raspberry jam. I think their dough also contains ground almonds. I thought I could try to make something similar for Valentine's Day, using sugar-cookie dough and making them heart-shaped. There are lots of recipes out there for Valentine's cookies like this, but I wanted to stick with something familiar, so I used the sugar-cookie recipe in the venerable Betty Crocker cookbook. I've used this recipe many, many times, to make cookies for virtually every holiday on the calendar, and it always works well for me. The tart-construction aspect of the cookies is my own take on the traditional method; I just made upper and lower cookie parts and spread seedless raspberry jam between the parts before sandwiching them together. It made a pretty and tasty cookie.

Valentine Linzer Tarts

1 1/2 cups confectioner's (powdered) sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
Seedless raspberry jam
Confectioner's sugar for sprinkling

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Combine 1 1/2 cups sugar, butter, egg and extracts in mixing bowl, stir until fluffy (I use my standing mixer with paddle attachment). Slowly add dry ingredients, mix at medium speed to combine. Dough will be a bit sticky. Remove dough from mixing bowl, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least two hours.


When dough has chilled, remove from plastic wrap and place on a lightly-floured surface for rolling-out. Dough should be rolled to 1/4 inch. For cutting, I used heart-shaped cutters in two sizes, 3-inch and 1-inch. The larger cutter is used to make both the top and bottom parts of the cookies. The smaller cutter is used to cut out a little heart-shaped window in half the cookies, the ones destined for the tops of the tarts. You could use any combination of sizes here, depending on how large you wish your tarts to be. My larger heart cutters range from 2 to 4 inches wide, so the 3-inch one seemed like a good compromise for use with the 1-inch small heart cutter. The tarts are pretty large, but I think this helped make for sturdier top-cookies. Using the above measurements, I had enough dough for 20 tops and 20 bottoms, for a total of 20 assembled tarts.


Bake top and bottom cookies for 8-9 minutes. They will be lightly browned around the edges. Allow to cool on the pan for one minute, then carefully transfer to wire cooling rack, using a spatula. Cool for 10 minutes on rack.


While the first batch is cooling, prepare the jam. I used the remains of a jar I already had, about half a cup of jam. I put it in a small crockery dish and microwaved it for 20 seconds to thin it a bit. Then I spread about a teaspoon of jam on the bottom side of a bottom cookie. I used a small off-set spatula for this, being careful not to have the jam run over the sides of the cookie. After spreading, I placed a top (window) cookie over the jam. 


As I sandwiched each tart, I placed it back on the wire cooling racks, which I set on top of sheets of waxed paper, to catch jam drips. The jam hardened a bit as they sat. I also sprinkled each tart with a little confectioner's sugar from a shaker-can. I realized that it may have been better to sprinkle the sugar over the top cookies before sandwiching, because it wouldn't land in the jam. But after awhile, the sugar seemed to "melt" into the jam and you couldn't really see it anymore, so I don't think it matters much when you do the sugar-sprinkling.


I placed the finished tarts in a waxed paper-lined cookie tin for storage. They were delicious and the whole family loved them. I hope you'll want to try my ideas for Valentine Linzer tarts. You have time to make them before Valentine's Day and they aren't difficult but I will admit that they were a bit time-consuming. But fun too! It was a great way to spend the afternoon, with my little girly baking-helper next to me, and my big-boy sickie watching from the couch. Your family will like them too - the baking and the eating. So go, go, go - make some pretty cookies for your Valentines.

*My blog-consumption has fallen by the wayside while I've been sick. I'm trying to catch up. In the meantime, hello and welcome to new readers and followers. Thank you for the lovely comments on my hot-pads, I had fun making them and I hope my tutorial is easy to understand. Please show me if you make any yourself!

50 comments:

  1. Oh yum! They look delicious :) Sorry to hear you and the LB have been under the weather - hopefully you're both feeling heaps better now.

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  2. Oh how wonderful they look to eat. I hope you both are feeling well soon. Hugs Judy

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  3. Those cookies look good :)
    Hope you are all feeling well and full of energy again soon. x

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  4. I'm sorry you have had such a bad week. A sore mouth form visiting the dentist (one of life's most dreaded events), having a sick child, and then getting sick yourself seems quite unfair. I love Linzer cookies! I need to find a gluten-free version. I used to make them every Valentine's Day too until I had to give up wheat. Yours came out so pretty! I hope this week turns around and only has good things in store for you.

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  5. The cookies look scrumptious, but it sounds like you had a miserable week. I do hope things have picked up for you now x

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  6. So sorry you have had a double whammy, dentists and being poorly :( Hugs to you and little ones.
    Those cookies look absolutely delicious and I have just copied the recipe to my notepad. Thanks for sharing xxx

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  7. What a nice end to a rather grim week for you. Hope everyone is improving and helped on their way with your lovely biscuits.

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  8. Hey Jennifer,

    So sorry yound your little ones have been feeling poorly. Those cookies look wonderful, as do the photos of them! You and Gillian are inspiring me to bake with Olly again. Your daughter looks adorable!

    Leanne xx

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  9. Oh my! What a week you've had and you still found the time and energy to make some beautiful cookies. Super mom! I also use my Betty Crocker cookbook constantly, I've had it for years and the spine is falling off, but it has the greatest recipes in it. I hope you and all of the bears are feeling better this morning. My hubby has been sick in Spokane while I've been visiting miss Piper in Portland this week. I always feel bad when I'm not there to take care of him. I'll be praying for your household to recover quickly.
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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  10. Oh dear, sorry to hear you've had more illness in the house. Your heart cookies look wonderful though, and a great way to bring a little happiness back into the home! I see you use "seedless" raspberry jam, which is an arguing point in my house. I love raspberries, and the seeds (to me) are just part of the whole berry ... my husband HATES any tiny seed and refuses to eat raspberry "anything" :D his loss. Hope you all feel normal soon my friend .... Wendy x

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  11. Hope you're all feeling better! Your cookies look delicious!! Thanks for sharing. Happy Valentine's Day this week!
    Hugs,
    Jody

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  12. These look great Jennifer, thanks for sharing. Sorry you've been feeling poorly, I do hope it's passed for everyone. Nothing worse than cabin fever!! Here's to a better week xoxo

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  13. Oh dear Jennifer - what a week you've had! ut at least you had these goodies to tuck into! They look delicious and I plan on making them this week. I'll post a photo whe I do. Thanks for the recipe. Hope you're on the mend now.xx

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  14. Oh you poor thing, you have been through the wars. I have so much sympathy for dental pain, and to get ill on top of that with wee ones to look after... yuck! Your cookies look very tasty and just the thing to make with my daughter :) xx

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  15. I am sorry that you have not been feeling well, dental matters really are horrible. I hope that you will be better this week. Your cookies look lovely though and I am sure that making them with the little bears took your mind off things and helped to keep you feeling cheerier. I hope that by Valentines Day you are bright and cheery again! xx

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  16. They look delicious, the sure way to capture your valentine's heart. Hope you and your son are feeling better and that you have a much better week this week.

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  17. This made me smile as this time last year I baked heart shaped "jammy dodger" biscuits which look and sound very similar to this! You've reminded me that I need to make some ready for Friday. Or any day of the week really. Hope you continue to recover and get your energy back. x

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  18. Sorry to hear you have been unwell Jennifer, I hope your dental work is finished and you can relax for 6 months. The cookies look great, of course if we didn't eat cookies we might not need dental work, but who can resist, thank you for the recipe I will have to try these. :)

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  19. Those cookies make you look like a master baker. They look so pretty. I hope you and your family are doing better. It's never fun being sick. I love those hot pads you quilted in your last post. They will make such lovely presents.

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  20. Sorry to here you've not been well hope everyone is on the mend now, thoughs cookies look yummy
    Clare x

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  21. The cookies are magnificent! Good job! I made zucchini bread yesterday - I give you kudos for making fancy cookies. I hope you are all better! I've caught 3 or 4 colds from our little guys since Sept! Just clearing my lungs from the last one. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  22. Pretty cookies, Jennifer, and a cheery project during a not so cheery week. I'm glad you are starting to feel better! Chunks of ice and snow are falling from the huge cherry tree outside my window, but schools are still closed. I am enjoying knitting on my blue Merino wool blanket with hot tea at the ready and am sending heartfelt wishes that you and yours have a happy week :)

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  23. Jennifer,

    Your Valentine Linzer tarts are the perfect cookie for one's sweetheart(s)! They look so pretty in that first photo on the beautiful floral dish! Hope you and your little one are feeling better and are enjoying your sweet creations! Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful week!

    Poppy

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  24. They look delicious Jennifer, I know my little people would love these. I'll have to work out how much a cup of butter weighs I think though - I'm not that good at putting it in a cup! Sorry to hear that you and your little man have been unwell, I do hope you're both completely better very soon. Have a lovely week, CJ xx

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  25. Oh I like the look of those!
    Xxx

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  26. Those cookies are so beautiful! Perfect for Valentines!

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  27. Your little Valentine biscuits look wonderful Jennifer and thank you for sharing the recipe. I'm so sorry to hear about the dental work and recovery time as well as the sickness in the family, and do hope you are both fully recovered very soon!
    Happy Valentine's Day and isn't it nice it falls on one of your Private Friday days! Enjoy! Hugs and get well soon, Joy xo

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  28. I do hope you are both feeling better and the other two haven't got it. I like the sound and look of your Linzer tarts.

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  29. They are almost too pretty to eat! I bet they are delicious! I am so sorry to hear you had a tough week. I did as well, with a sick husband home for two days with a yucky cold and bronchitis, and having to say goodbye to my sweet, eleven year old dog yesterday just made for a really tough week. I hope you are having a better week, and I hope you and LB are feeling well again. All of your photos are very nice and happy today as always - just what I needed.

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  30. I hope you all are feeling much better now. -I absolutely love baking, and love how your cookies turned out. They look delicious, Jennifer.

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  31. Glad you are better.....I am sure those delicious cookies helped♥️
    Cheers!
    Linda :o)

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  32. AH...so glad you are feeling better friend!!! Nothing worse than having dental work done and getting sick! I love these cookies...they are one of my favorites! And yours look absolutely amazing!!! I hope the weather cooperates a bit more for you all so that you can get out! We actually may hit the 20's this week! A great week to you! Nicole xoxo

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  33. Oh what a week, first you in so much pain, then a little one who is ill too. I so hope this week is better, blogs will be here when you are ready, you rest and take care of yourself my friend.
    Hugs and have a great day,
    Meredith

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  34. Those look absolutely delicious, and so pretty! Sorry to hear you've all been under the weather. Hope everyone is well again soon x

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  35. These look so lovely, and sound delicious! Thank you for sharing them. So sorry you have been ill....hope everyone is better now.
    Helen xx

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  36. Yum! Those tarts look so delicious! I hope you're having a better week and I'm glad you're feeling better :) xx

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  37. So sorry to hear that you and LB have been under the weather. Hope you're feeling much better now.
    Those biscuits look delicious. x

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  38. Sorry you have been suffering,hope you are now feeling much better. Those biscuits look amazing. Sarah x

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  39. Those cookies are beautiful! I'm sorry you and the LB have been sick...and dental work on top of it, YUCK. Get well wishes sent your way!

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  40. Sorry you have had a bad week and hope your mouth fells better this week. Those biscuits look so gorgeous and I really like the plate in the first photo...so pretty!
    Marianne x

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  41. Such wonderful photos! I'm battling that same thing now and feel icky and tired. Wish I could just reach for one of your tarts, they look delicious and I'm not baking anything, lol. Hope all are well at your house now.

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  42. What a week - dental pain AND a nasty virus! I hope the cookies helped - they are so beautiful that just looking at them makes me feel happy.

    I hope everyone feels better now and that the little Bears have been able to get outside and run off some of that cabin fever. :)

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  43. Hey Jennifer, I hope you and the LB are feel better soon. These valentines tarts look delicious and it looks like you and the GB had fun making them, thank you for sharing the recipe. As ever your photographs are beautiful, a wonderful collection of domestic memories to treasure. Thank you for your kind comment and pointing out my optimism, sometimes it takes someone else seeing it before you do. Take it easy my friend, Cate, x

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  44. Hope your all feeling better soon hugs x

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  45. These look so delicious and pretty. Hope you are feeling better xo

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  46. Hello Jennifer. I hope by now you are feeling better (I'm soooo behind with my blogging too). Love the look of these cookies and may have a go. Is Powdered sugar the same as Icing sugar?
    Patricia x

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    1. Hi Patricia! I believe they are the same thing, yes. I make icing with it too.

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  47. Delicious cookies love the dusting of icing sugar, as ever stunning photography

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  48. Those look yummy, Jennifer. Sorry to hear that you and the LB have been ill. There seem to be a lot of nasty bugs around this winter on this side of the Atlantic and I'm sure the same is true in the US. Take care - these things can last much longer than we'd like.

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Thank you for leaving a comment. It's so good to hear from you! I don't always have time to reply but I try to answer questions when I can.

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