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February 2016

Classic Heart Shaped Linzer Nut Cookies with Raspberry Jam

Linzer cookies

Heart Shaped Linzer Nut Cookies with Raspberry Jam

Linzer cookies are based on the famous Linzertorte - a delicious tart made using a rich buttery dough with ground nuts, lemon zest, and cinnamon. It is one of the oldest known tart recipes, discovered in an Austrian abbey that dates back to 1653.  The tart is traditionally filled with black currant preserves and topped with a lattice crust.  In the States, raspberry has replaced black currant as the jam of choice.  Linzer cookies employ the same recipe as the Linzertorte but instead the dough is cut into cookies and two of them form a sandwich with the preserves.  Many years ago, when I was working long hours on a television show in NYC, my friend Michele stopped by my office and surprised me with a box of homemade heart-shaped Linzer cookies. It’s still a favorite Valentine’s Day memory – make some for your Valentine this year, it will make a lasting impression. 

Download Heart Shaped Linzer Nut Cookies with Raspberry Jam recipe

 

2-1/2 oz. (1/2 cup) sliced almonds

2-1/2 oz. (1/2 cup) coarsely chopped pecans or skinned hazelnuts

9-1/2 oz. (2 cups plus 1 Tbs.) all purpose flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar

Zest of 1 lemon (1-2 teaspoons)

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon table salt

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

7 oz. (14 Tbs.) chilled unsalted butter

1 large egg

11/2 tablespoons cold water

1/2 cup raspberry preserves

Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

1. In a food processor, process the nuts with 1/2 cup of the flour until fine textured but not powdered. (To avoid overprocessing, stop the machine occasionally and feel the nuts; they may look like they’re still chunky, but they may actually just be clumping together.) Add the remaining flour, granulated sugar, lemon zest, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cloves. Pulse mixture to combine.

2. Cut the butter into 1/2-inch cubes and add to the flour mixture; pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal, about 8 one-second pulses. Don’t over-process. Transfer to a large bowl.

3. Whisk together the egg and water; sprinkle over the flour mixture and toss gently to combine. The dough should hold together when pinched. (If it seems dry, sprinkle on a bit more water.) Gather the dough into two balls and knead briefly just to blend. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, 2 to 3 hours.

To bake:

1. Heat the oven to 325°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment.

2. Generously flour a work surface. Roll one ball of the dough to about ¼-inch thick. (Keep the rest in the refrigerator, and if the dough warms up to the point of being sticky while you’re working with it, return it to the refrigerator.) Cut out as many 2-1/2-inch hearts as possible, rerolling the scraps to make more hearts. Arrange on the cookie sheets about 3/4 inch apart. Cut 1-1/4-inch hearts in the center of half the rounds. Reroll these center scraps to make more cookies.

3. Bake until the edges are lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Let cool on the sheets. Repeat with the remaining dough.

To assemble, spread a heaping 1/2 tsp. preserves on the underside of the whole cookie hearts. Using a wire-mesh sieve, sprinkle the cut-out heart tops with powdered sugar. Place on top of jam covered hearts. 

Linzer cookie dough rolled 1
Linzer cookie cutouts1

 
Heart Shaped Linzer Nut cookies


One Skillet Pasta with Creamy Ricotta Peas and Prosciutto

Pasta prosciutto peas2 

 My sister gave me a great cookbook from Cook’s Illustrated – The Best Skillet Recipes – which I’ve been working my way through. The recipes are always foolproof and are very easy to follow, and this one is no exception. Creamy ricotta and crisp salty prosciutto pair perfectly and the addition of green peas, lemon, and fresh mint brighten the pasta and add great flavor.

1 cup whole made ricotta cheese

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Salt and ground black pepper

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into ¼-inch pieces

1 medium onion, minced

2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press, (about 2 teaspoons)

½ cup dry white wine (optional)

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 cups water

1 cup heavy cream

12 ounces (about 4 ½ cups) medium pasta shells

2 cups frozen peas

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

1 tablespoon juice from 1 lemon

2 tablespoons minced fresh mint leaves

  1. Combine the ricotta, Parmesan, lemon zest, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the prosciutto and cook until well browned and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the prosciutto to a paper towel–lined plate, leaving the oil in the skillet.
  3. Add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the oil left in the skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  4. Stir in wine (if using) and simmer for 2 minutes. Stir in the broth, water, and cream, then add the pasta. Increase the heat to high and cook at a vigorous simmer, stirring often, until the pasta is tender and the liquid has thickened, 15 to 18 minutes.
  5. Stir in the peas, butter, and lemon juice and cook until the peas are hot, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Dot heaping tablespoons of the ricotta mixture over the noodles. Cover and let stand off the heat until the cheese warms and softens, 2 to 4 minutes. Sprinkle with the crisp prosciutto and mint and serve.