I’ve submitted this post to the monthly link up party Our Growing Edge. This event aims to connect food bloggers and inspire us to try new things. This month is hosted by Chinelo from Good Cake Day. The theme is LOVE IN ALL ITS FORMS.
In Part I of this cookie recipe from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook, I blanched hazelnuts to grind into hazelnut flour for our Valentine’s Day Linzer Heart cookies. I made three variations on this cookie: plain hazelnut shortbread cookies, Nutella sandwich cookies and strawberry jam-filled heart cutout cookies.
After my trials and tribulations with making the hazelnut flour, I was then on to making the actual cookie dough. FINALLY!
Mixing the hazelnut flour, all-purpose flour, cinnamon, salt and baking powder was easy enough. Beating the butter and sugar, egg yolks and vanilla extract also went smoothly.
I combined the dry ingredients into the wet in the stand mixer, and then turned the dough out onto a floured work surface to form into disks for refrigeration. This is where I feel I kind of got tripped up. The dough was pretty dry and crumbly. I think it was generally supposed to be, but perhaps mine was even drier than necessary.
Nonetheless, I got it formed into disks and into the fridge overnight.
The next morning I took it out to roll it think to start cutting out my heart shapes. The dough crumbled apart.
It split all over the place I couldn’t get it to roll smoothly.
I left it for about 30 minutes to warm up a bit and tried again, more successfully, but still with some struggle.
Unfortunately or fortunately, I doubled the recipe so that I would have enough cookies to bring to the art show. But working in a small NYC kitchen, this meant I was manipulating about 1/5 of the dough at a time – rolling it out, cutting it into hearts, placing those hearts on a baking sheet in the freezer while rerolling the dough scraps to cut more hearts to place on a second sheet to put in the freezer. Now mind you, I only own two cookie sheets to my name.
So once the first sheet went in to the oven, I worked more dough on the counter. Pulled the cookies out of the oven, moved them onto a wire cooling rack, and turned around to place a fresh sheet of cut dough hearts on the hot pan and put it in the freezer to chill before repeating the process again and again.
This literally took me ALL DAY.
I could only work with so much dough at a time and was limited by the number of cookie sheets and space. It was like a well-choreographed dance of shifting dough and baked cookies around the room from counter to pan to rack to plate.
The other problem I encountered cutting out the hearts was that my two heart cookie cutters were too close in size. Basically I needed to cut 2 types of hearts: big ones that would be the bottom half of the cookie, and big ones with a heart cut out of the middle to go on top so that the jam can shine through.
Well my “smaller” heart cookie cutter was only slightly smaller than my “big” cookie cutter, so every time I tried to punch out a smaller heart from the bigger heart, the bigger cookie would break apart (remember my dough was already dry and crumbly).
So I did two things: 1. I simply (not so easily though) used a knife to cut out tiny heart shapes from half of the big hearts to be the top part of the cookie; 2. I decided to cut some stand-alone small heart cookies and make them into Nutella sandwich cookies – no middle hole included.
All in all, it worked out for the best. I had a TON of cookies in various sizes and flavors, which was fun. They were: big strawberry jam-filled cookies with heart-shaped holes in the middle for the jam to peek out; small heart sandwich cookies filled with Nutella; big heart cookies ~ as is, plain; and teeny tiny heart cookies (created when I used a knife to cut out the tiny hearts from the bigger cookies) tossed in powdered sugar.
Thanks to everyone who tried the cookies and gave rave reviews. They were about 24 hours in the making, my back hurt when I was done, and while I’m proud to have accomplished such an in-depth recipe, I don’t think I’ll be making them again for a long while (unless someone sends me some pre-made hazelnut flour).