Just about everyone I know has at least one story of a flopped Valentine’s Day gift.
Maybe one year your sweetie went all out and got you something that glitters and sparkles, and you went with a teddy bear. Or maybe you went out to dinner and ran into an old flame who you’d prefer not to have run into with your current one. Or maybe you had breakfast in bed and both ended up with food poisoning. (Hey, it happens.)
Despite all the things that can go wrong, one thing that is guaranteed to be successful on Valentine’s Day is a heart. Any kind of heart; be it edible, stuffed, or made of gold. Because I’m a cook at heart, and because the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, I decided to go with edible.
The February 2007 cover of Martha Stewart Living magazine boasts some gorgeous heart cookies: Pecan Linzer Cookies with Cherry Filling. They’re red and white and with their pretty heart cut-out centers, they’re perfect for Valentine’s Day. Read my notes below to see what I thought of this recipe.
Pecan Linzer Cookies with Cherry Filling
Yield: About 1 1/2 to 2 dozen sandwich cookies
Prep Time: 45 min
Cook Time: 17 min
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup pecan halves, toasted
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup cherry jam, strained
1. Sift flour and baking powder into a bowl; set aside. Pulse pecans, confectioners’ sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a food processor until finely ground (but not wet); transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
2. Add butter and granulated sugar; mix on medium speed until fluffy. Mix in vanilla and egg. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture; mix until combined. Halve dough; shape into disks. Wrap in plastic; refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.
3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Working with 1 disk at a time, roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/8 inch thick. Refrigerate 20 minutes. Cut out squares with a 2-inch fluted cutter. Cut out centers of half the squares with a 1/2-inch heart cutter; reroll scraps. Space 2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake squares and hearts until pale golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to racks to cool.
4. Meanwhile, heat jam in a small saucepan over medium heat until reduced and thickened, about 7 minutes; let cool.
5. Sprinkle cutout cookies with confectioners’ sugar. Spread jam onto uncut squares; top with cutout ones. Store in an airtight container up to 2 days.
• If your dough seems a bit too crumbly and you’re having trouble getting it to come together after you’ve added the flour, you can drizzle in a little cold water very, very slowly until the dough comes together (like making pie crust).
• You can play with the nut and jam combination in this recipe; I think walnuts and strawberry jam would be another great combo.
• Instead of making my cookies squares with a heart cut-out in the center, I made them heart-shaped with a heart cut-out in the center; you can use whatever is convenient for you.
The good news is that these cookies are absolutely gorgeous to look at. The bad news is unfortunately twofold: 1) they take a bit more effort than the average cookie to make because the dough is a bit crumbly and can be tricky to roll out; and 2) they are a bit bland. Of course the jam and powdered sugar on top help with them being bland, but the cookies themselves could use a little punch of added flavor. I think next time I’ll add a bit more salt because 1/8 teaspoon salt for the whole recipe wasn’t quite enough to pull out the other flavors going on in these cookies.
Did this recipe deserve the cover spotlight?
I think they did in the sense that during February people think of Valentine’s Day (there really isn’t much else going on in February!), and heart shaped foods are a huge hit for Valentine’s. Because they look so special, these cookies would be perfect at a school party or at an office party; you could even customize them by writing the recipient’s name on each cookie.