Thursday, February 11, 2010

LINZER HEART COOKIES & A FRENCH CONNECTION!

You must be wondering what exactly I meant by 'French Connection'. No, I am not talking about the movie, nor the big retail chain. But I am talking about my very sweet friend Jamie who live in Nantes, France.She is this perfect mix of the perfect wife, mother, blogger and a friend. For me, she is that 'friend' who fulfils the proverb 'A friend in need is a friend indeed.'

I tweeted  out to Jamie few months ago, to help me feed my hungry blog during my wedding days as I didn't have the heart to starve my dear bloggie. And she accepted it without thinking twice! Isn't she the best! Mwwwaahhhh!! And have a look at those perfect treats that she baked for me!

And let me warn you, she writes really well! So do not blame me if you get hooked onto her writing skills! ;)

LINZER HEART COOKIES FOR VALENTINE’S DAY


RIA’S BIG ADVENTURE

LOVE & MARRIAGE
Love and marriage, love and marriage
Go together like a horse and carriage
This I tell you brother
You can't have one without the other
Love and marriage, love and marriage
It's an institute you can't disparage
Ask the local gentry
And they will say it's elementary
Try, try, try to separate them
It's an illusion
Try, try, try, and you will only come
To this conclusion
Love and marriage, love and marriage
Go together like a horse and carriage
Dad was told by mother
You can't have one without the other
- Sammy Cahn & Jimmy Van Heusen
VALENTINE’S DAY AND A WEDDING

Ah, Valentine’s Day. Our hearts go pitter pat as the date approaches, florist shops fill up with lush red roses, heart-shaped chocolates tucked into delicate, pale tissue paper or tumbling out of boxes tied up in plump pink ribbon are displayed in every candy shop window and showcases of jewelry of gold and silver, diamonds and rubies, both elegant and gaudy, invite us to dream. Visions of chubby cherubim and putti, Cupid gently taking aim with his bow and arrow, the promise of romance and snuggling up with the one you love all are part and parcel of the magic that we call Valentine’s Day.


The month of February, cold and harsh, a blanket of white if we are so lucky, a breath of spring occasionally whispering in our ear, stuck unforgivingly somewhere between the rousing, festive end-of-the-year holiday season and the warming, welcoming arms of spring. February, rarely one’s favorite month, finds us impatient for the winter to end, dreaming of summer vacations in the sun, and escape. But for the romance of Valentine’s Day. So we strap on ours skis or snuggle down under blankets, our hands wrapped around a mug of hot cocoa or we dream of our knight in shining armor as we stir flour into sugar, rub in butter and scent with vanilla and cinnamon and wait for Valentine’s Day. For most of us, Winter respite comes in the form of a heart, that sentimental keepsake, that unlooked for display of affection, candlelight and a glass of champagne warming us up halfway through this otherwise cold, snowbound month.

And then some of us, the lucky ones, get married. Married in the month of February. How romantic is that? Like celebrating Valentine’s Day all month long, like having a special Valentine’s Day all to yourself. My darling friend Ria, far off in exotic India, has been stitching wedding favors, planning menus, putting together her trousseau and fitting the wedding dress of her dreams all in preparation for her February wedding. Darling Ria turned to me for a guest post and how could I refuse? Love and marriage and Valentine’s Day are food for a romantic like me, sentimental fool that I am, stirring up emotions and memories of my own special day so many years ago, a day followed by so many candlelit dinners, so many gifts slid across white tablecloths or placed in the palm of my hand, so many boxes tied up in satin ribbon, so many celebratory bottles of champagne, so many romantic getaways for two. And a near-perfect marriage (no marriage is perfect, my dear) is like the perfect Valentine’s Day: romance blended with joy and laughter, a mad mingling of serenity and excitement, the fusion of the exchange of serious sentiments and a wild burst of frivolity. It is a union of anticipation, worry and joy, hope and dreams.


Ria, I pulled out my years old, battered notebook, dug around until I found the perfect recipe, the perfect treat for this special day in your life. The page is torn and stained, the words beginning to fade, but this is the most romantic of treats that I have chosen for you. The perfect cookie, delicate and tender, a white, white heart, white as the snowy month of February, white as the pureness of love, a sweet, meltingly sweet cookie with a heart as red as love, as red as the passion of lovers, bursting forth on the tongue in a flood of tangy, fruity flavor, the flavor of cherries, deep and mysterious, as mysterious and flavorful as that wonderland we call married life. [ I SO LOVE YOU FOR THIS JAMIE! HUGS!!!!!]


A cookie, like marriage, is a mix of the choicest of ingredients in the perfect blend of just the right quantities: sweet, creamy butter, lots of butter to create something rich and smooth; sugar, powdery and fine, as ephemeral as fairy dust, gliding through your fingers, adding sweetness in just the right balance, in perfect harmony with the earthiness of the nuts; flour and cornstarch, both sturdy yet light, airy yet strong, something basic, clean and pure to bind all the other ingredients together in a perfect harmony, a necessary cohesion of flavor and texture until something beautiful is created, a delicacy to be handled with care so that it doesn’t break, something to be savored on its own yet enhanced by the stunning, passionate surprise of the cherry red preserves, that one exciting, secret ingredient holding all of the rest together. Share it, enjoy it, savor it.

A marriage will warm up the most blustery of Februaries. It will thaw the coldest of hearts as well as a blazing fire and a steaming mug of grog, as sure as a stunning young bride in all the glow of her love. Enjoy, Ria, and I wish you all the best!


LINZER HEART COOKIES

¾ lb/3 sticks (345 g) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (125 g) powdered/confectioner’s sugar
1 egg
2 cups (250 g) flour
1 cup (120 g) cornstarch
3 oz (80 g) finely ground nuts (almond, hazelnut or walnut)
Cherry preserves (Red raspberry is the classic filling)
Powdered/confectioner’s sugar for dusting cookies (about ½ cup/ 65 g)


Cream the butter and the sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat just until blended.

Sift together the flour and the cornstarch then add it to the butter/sugar/egg mixture beating in as much as you can with the electric mixer then stirring and folding in the rest by hand until homogenous and it pulls together into a dough.

Working quickly (the butter is melting as we speak!), scrape the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead just until you have a smooth dough. Wrap well in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.


Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C).

Cut the ball of dough in half and wrap back up one half and stick back in the fridge to keep chilled. This dough gets very soft and sticky as it warms to room temperature. Roll the half you have kept out on a floured to a thickness of 1/8 to ¼” (don’t forget you will be sandwiching the cookies so it will double the thickness). Using heart-shaped cookie cutters of any size, cut out pairs of hearts. Place them side by side and, using either a tiny heart-shaped cutter or a round cutter (for the small hearts I used the small end of a pastry tip) cut out a center hole from ONE of each pair of cookies (this will be the top of the sandwich). Gently lift and place the cut out shapes on an ungreased baking/cookie sheet.

The center hearts will make tiny little individual cookies to pop into your mouth.

 [ I LOVE THIS PICTURE! ]

Bake in the preheated oven for 15 – 20 minutes or until firm and just barely golden brown (lift one up and the bottom should be starting to brown). Remove from the oven, allow to cool a bit on the baking sheet until firm enough to lift and transfer onto cooling racks.

Repeat with the remaining dough.

Pair up the hearts with one solid bottom and one top with a hole cut out. Spread a dollop of cherry preserves on the bottom cookie of each pair. Place all of the top cookies on a rack on top of a plate or a piece of aluminum foil and very generously dust with a thick coating of powdered sugar. Top each bottom cookie with the preserves with a sugared top and press very, very gently so as not to break the cookies.


Now, now! I must admit I have never seen a Linzer cookie as pretty as this! And what a way to celebrate V-Day! Jamie, your JP is SUPER lucky to have you! :)

Thank you so much for this BIG help for me. And the saying 'actions speak louder than words' did come true in our case! Hugs!

15 Comments:

Sharmilee! :) said...

Wow lovely post and clicks.... Cute colorful hearts!

Priya said...

Wowww wat a fantastic hearts..absolutely divine..

Jamie said...

Dear Ria! When you asked me to post for you during your wedding month the thought of these romantic cookies popped right into my head! I am so glad you love them. Wishing you all the joy, fun and love of the best of marriages (and wishing you a romantic husband as well!). Hugs a million hugs back!

Sarah said...

They look adorable! What a perfect post on the count down to both Valentines day and a wedding!

All the best Ria! And a gorgeous post Jamie!

heather.davis said...

Wow those do look amazing. Linzer cookies are something I have wanted to make for a long time. They were my mother's favourite cookie when she was growing up and (ironically) her birthday is Valentine's Day. Unfortunately we live on separate continents so I won't be able to make them for her this Sunday. Thanks for the post though it was a nice way to remember her.

Jeanne said...

Such a beautiful post - and all the best for a wonderful day and a wonderful life together Ria!

Tina said...

Lovely clicks and beautiful post dear...

A Homemakers Diary said...

wow you made me feel the warmth of the romantic season. such a great write up, pics and truly a very special recipe.

Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

Congratulations Ria on your wedding, hope you have a fantastic day. Jamie has done a deliciously romantic post, I love that same photo you remarked on too, it's really pretty.

Barbara Bakes said...

Best wishes for a wonderful life together! Jamie's created a wonderful first cookie for you!

Jamie said...

Sorry all, I left out that you add the ground nuts after the flour and cornstarch are beaten/folded in. It's ok to blend them in at the same time if you are blending by hand.

Maria said...

sweet post and lovely cookies!! Dear, Once again wish you both all the happiness. Take care...

rohan said...

Gorgeous cookies ... love your style Jamie girl!! Great to see her here Ria!

Deeba PAB said...

Great post. Good to see you here Jamie!

Meetu said...

Great post and gorgeous looking cookies. The photographs that you have put are Absolutely awsesome!!!!!!!

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