Thursday, February 11, 2010

52 Cookies - Chapter 6

Throughout this yearlong cookie journey, I am going to do my best to bake cookies that reflect the season or holiday at hand. I figure Valentine's Day is going to be the easiest holiday to fulfill this task. Goodness knows, I have cut out more than my fair share of tree shaped sugar cookies in my lifetime!
Today's cookies are very pretty. I am sure my blood pressure went up a bit while I was making them. First of all, the recipe I have makes a very small portion of dough, leaving very little room for any "Oops, I didn't hear the timer!" Unfortunately, that happened to me today. That's what happens when your kids are on their 4th snow day home from school asking endless questions, you haven't been to the store in awhile to get your baking supplies and you are trying to get many things done in a short amount of time in hopes that your children will be in school tomorrow and Valentine parties will take place. How's that for a run-on sentence?!
I am thankful that there are few cookies from today's experiment. What with the peanut butter fudge I made the day-before-yesterday and the batch of chocolate caramels I also made today (teacher's valentine gifts), well, let's just say the likelihood of me slipping into a sugar coma in the next 24 hours is very likely, and we haven't even hit Valentine's Day yet.
I told Jenna that these sweet little works of art are my Valentine gift to the family even though it's a few days away. We have a busy next couple of days ahead of us so I wanted to make these cookies when I knew I had the time.
I clipped this recipe from the February 2009 issue of Parents magazine. They call them Jam Cutouts. This is not an unusual recipe. I see recipes for cookies like this all the time around the holidays. It's basically just a butter cookie recipe, but I liked the fact that this recipe incorporated lemon juice and lemon zest. I used raspberry jam in-between the cookie layers. I think lemon and raspberry make a super yummy taste combination. Be sure to have 2 different sizes of heart shaped cookie cutters (or whatever shape you choose to make). Mine were actually too big and therefore, I would have ended up with more cookies than I did if my cookie cutters were smaller. I ended up with just one dozen cookies.

Jam Sweethearts (I like this name better!)
Here's what you'll need:
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1/3 cup raspberry or strawberry jam
Powdered sugar for dusting

Here's what you do:
Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a smal bowl. In a mixer bowl, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high until fluffy. It will take about 3 minutes to get it to the desired consistency. Add the egg and beat until smooth. Reduce the speed of your mixer to low and add the flour mixture, lemon juice and lemon zest. Scrape down the side of you bowl to be sure everything is mixed in nice. Now, tear off a decent sized piece of plastic wrap and lay it on your counter. Turn out the cookie dough onto the plastic wrap in a nice, neat little lump. Pull up the sides of the plastic wrap to seal it up and shape the dough into a flat little disk. Pop it in the fridge for about 3 hours. Go find something else to do. This is when the kids and I loaded up and got out of the house to make sure the rest of civilization was still out there. After all of this snow and being stuck at home, we had to get out and be amongst the living. We headed to Target and picked up a few essentials, namely the corn syrup that I discovered I didn't have enough of to make my caramels. Then we went to Bob Evan's for lunch because I was tired of fixing grilled cheese, mac and cheese and chicken nuggets to my kids this whole week for lunch. I'm off track with the cookies. After the dough has chilled the proper length of time, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper. Important to do with these cookies because the cookies that you cut the "window" out of will be very fragile and you can't afford to have them sticking to the cookie sheet. Lightly flour your counter and roll out the cookie dough to about 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out the heart shapes. To half of the heart cut-outs, take your smaller cookie cutter and cut a heart shape out of the center of those. Use your scraps to continue rolling out dough until all of the dough is used up. Once you have a full cookie sheet, pop it in the oven for about 8-10 minutes. I would recommend baking the "solid" hearts on one sheet and the hearts with a "window" on another sheet. The cookies with the center cut out took a few less minutes. I made that mistake and a couple were more done than I would prefer. Cool completely on a wire rack. Spread jam on the whole cookies. Dust the cutout cookies with powdered sugar and then sandwich one on top of a cookie with jam on it. And there you go!

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