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Linzer Hearts: The Cookies That Didn’t Get Swapped

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My friend Sharon was asking a group of folks for a good cookie swap recipe the other day, so I credit the inception of this post to her. :-D. She also asked me if there were any good companies around willing to make a gift delivery, to which, I recommended her a few.

I’ve made these cookies several times. My daughter is totally in love with raspberry jam in a cookie, so she wanted to try these this year. We made a batch together earlier this week, and they were so good that I decided to make them again for my Fabulous Friday Friends, who held their cookie swap yesterday. Only yesterday, sadly, I really wasn’t feeling well enough to go. So the cookie dough that I started Thursday for the cookie swap on Friday is still chilling in the fridge on Saturday. And I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today. (This will make no sense if you’re not a Popeye/Wimpie fan, but don’t worry about it. It’s an older person’s cultural reference.)

So, all that to say, these are the Cookies That Didn’t Get Swapped. But they are totally Swapworthy. Slightly crisp as you bite into them, and then, they melt away into buttery crumbly sweet goodness in your mouth. Once you taste them, in fact, you may find yourself reluctant to give these beauties away. Because some people will not have put the loving goodness into their cookies that you will have put into these. Unless you’re totally full of the true spirit of Christmas, which is all about giving a sacrificial gift. And giving these babies up WILL be sacrificial.

I think you might want to be a bit more careful than I was in how you store them. I put them in a ziplock bag, and the following day, the crisp factor was missing. But, they still taste wonderful. So, if you want to keep the crisp factor going, I recommend you try keeping them in a cookie tin, with layers of wax paper in between.  Maybe that will work better.

So, today, I’m going to get my daughter the sous-chef in training to roll these out and cut them with a little heart shaped cookie cutter and spread them with raspberry jam while they’re still warm from the oven, and then roll them in the powdered sugar in order to gild the lily, just a touch. Last time we used a heart that was too big, I think, so we’ll try it with one of our smaller heart cookie cutters.

The recipe I got from the Silver Palate Cookbook, which was one of the cookbooks that drew me into believing that cooking scrumptious food was within my reach,  way back in the ’80’s. It’s still a great cookbook, and I understand they have re-worked a lot of the recipes that were just overloaded with fat and butter to make them a little more approachable to today’s cook.

The recipe is called Linzer Hearts, and in my falling apart, butter stained paperback copy of The Silver Palate Cookbook, my handwritten note, in purple ink, says, “Wonderful!”. Because, they are!

Linzer Hearts

3/4 lbs sweet butter, softened (3 sticks)
1 3/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 egg
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted
1 cup cornstarch
2 cups shelled walnuts, finely pulsed in a food processor
1/2 cup red raspberry preserves

I start by prepping my ingredients. First, I get out the butter to soften it. Then, I pulse the nuts in my food processor till they are finely ground, but not walnut butter.  About like this:

Finely Ground Walnuts, pulsed in the food processor.

Then, I sift together the cornstarch and the flour, so they’re delicately fluffed, and lump free.

Flour and cornstarch, sifted together.

Cream butter and 1 cup of the sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and mix well. Sift together flour and cornstarch and add to butter mixture. Add walnuts and mix thoroughly. Gather dough in ball and wrap in plastic wrap or wax paper. Chill for 4-6 hours (dough can be frozen at this point and used later, but make sure to wrap well). The idea here, once you add the flour, is to not overwork the dough. Once the flour gets wet, the more you work it, the more gluten will form, and gluten is the elasticky protein string that gives bread its “chew”. And you want these cookies to be tender. So, try not to mix the dough too much, once you see the flour is incorporated, or your cookies will be tough, and not tender. Here’s what my dough looked like:

Lump o’ dough, needing to be chilled.

Roll dough out to 1/4-inch thickness (I like to do this between two sheets of waxed paper). Using a small heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out cookies and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Chill for 45 minutes.

You might want to use a smaller heart cutter. I will next time.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Bake cookies for 10-15 minutes, or until they are only slightly browned. Remove and cool on rack.

While they are still slightly warm, spread half of the cookies with raspberry preserves, 1/4 teaspoon of jam on each cookie. Top each with one of the remaining cookies. Press together carefully, making sure not to break off the lobes of the heart.

My daughter did most of the work on these cookies, and I’m so proud!

Once fully cooled, sift the remaining powdered sugar over the cookies. Turn cookies over and sift onto the other side (if the cookies are too warm the sugar will melt into the heat). Yields 4 dozen cookies.

P. S. There’s still time to enter my blog giveaway for the Best. Christmas. Music. Ever. But time’s running out, so don’t delay. As of the writing of this post, there are only about 35 comments over there, so if you’ve already entered, your odds are looking good!

Pamela Hester King

Friday 8th of February 2019

I make these annually for Valentine’s Day and it’s a tradition the family looks forward to. Me not so much because they’re a good bit of work and then I eat too many. That said, I’ve had the same problem with the moisture from the jam removing the crisp-tender effect that adds to how special these are right down to their texture. I now make the cookies ahead of time and cool completely before freezing. I take out what’s needed and put jam on exactly the necessary number, followed by the powdered sugar. It works perfectly. I worried that it wouldn’t given the authors were quite specific in their instructions to spread while warm but I can discern no difference - other than having perfect texture with every bite. Doing it this way also cuts down on the perceived work. Day 1 - make dough. Day 2 - bake. Whenever necessary, assemble. A much easier process for the galley slave.

Susan Williams

Friday 8th of February 2019

What a great idea, Pamela! Thanks for sharing!

Judy Pincus

Monday 26th of December 2016

I have been making these cookies for many year and they are the best but I have one problem. The cookies absorb the jam and then get too soft and fall apart. Is there something that can coat the bottom cookie with that will keep the jam from seeping into the cookie.

Susan Williams

Monday 26th of December 2016

Not that I know of, Judy. I have the same problem with some shortbread cookies I make: I guess you just have to share them, and share them sooner, rather than later,

Susan in the Boonies

Monday 13th of December 2010

Dawn, everything goes better with gravy.


Monday 13th of December 2010

Hey, Susan, one more question. Did you serve this solo or with gravy?

Susan in the Boonies

Sunday 12th of December 2010

Anne, I'll be checking those data stats we talked about, and get back to you. Your family member will find lots to love in that cookbook. The Chicken Marbella recipe I love so much is in that cookbook, too. I think I might have served that to you once. It's the chicken with prunes, and olives and white wine and brown sugar. It's to die for!