Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Shortbread Hearts with Raspberry Jam

Oh hey there.

My name is Nina, and I like to bake.  Like is probably not a strong enough word…and neither is love…I’m actually sort of obsessed with it. 

The problem with baking is always finding some sort of justification for it.  I mean, if I could, I would bake cookies and muffins and cupcakes every day, but then comes the “I-can’t-possibly-eat all-of-these-myself” problem…but no worries. I have found a solution.

Ambrosia is my solution.  It’s pretty simple.  Ambrosia is my reason for baking, because now I have a legitimate excuse to try new recipes and expand my own horizons.  I get to share my obsessions and compulsions with all of you guys, isn’t it great?!  I think it’s pretty fantastic. 

Let’s start with some cookies.

These cookies are nothing more than basic shortbread cookies that have been sandwiched together with some seedless raspberry jam and dusted with powdered sugar.  Super easy…and super delicious!

Once you learn the basics of working with this dough, you can roll it out and cut it into any shape to fit the season, holiday, or occasion.  While these cookies are simple and sophisticated, the fact that they can be cut into different shapes so easily makes them playful and fun. A multi-use cookie dough?  How convenient.

Shortbread Cookies with Raspberry Jam
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma

2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon of salt
1 cup of unsalted butter (2 sticks) at room temperature
¾ cups powdered sugar, plus extra for dusting
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
½ cup seedless raspberry jam

In a bowl, sift together the flour and salt, and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and the powdered sugar, beating until smooth.  Add both extracts, and beat on low speed until fully incorporated.  Add the dry ingredients all at once, and beat together, stopping once the dough comes together in large clumps.

Press the dough together, and then divide the dough into two equal portions.  Form each half into a round that is 5 inches in diameter, and tightly wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate until the dough is firm, about an hour.

Place a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat to 325°F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.

Remove one round of dough from the refrigerator, and on a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough until it is ¼ inch thick with a lightly floured rolling pin.  You may want to rotate the dough with the help of a thin metal spatula as you work, to ensure that the dough does not stick to the work surface.  It is best to work quickly as you do this, because the more time you spend manipulating the dough with your hands, the faster the butter in the dough will soften, meaning that you will have to stop working with the dough and place it back in the refrigerator for the butter to become firm again.  Using a 3 inch heart cookie cutter, cut out the cookies.  With a smaller heart cookie cutter, cut out a heart shape from the center of half of the cookies.  Place all the hearts on the prepared baking sheets.  Gather all the dough scraps, press them together, and repeat the rolling and cutting process.

Bake the cookies, 1 sheet at a time, in the oven for about 13-15 minutes, just until their edges begin to turn light golden brown.  Once out of the oven, let them cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring them to wire racks to cool completely.

Once completely cooled, begin to assemble the cookies.  On the cookies with no heart cutout, spread a thin layer of raspberry jam, leaving a slight border uncovered.  With a fine-mesh sieve, lightly dust the tops of the cutout cookies with powdered sugar, and then place the cookies on top of the jam-covered cookies, to create the sandwiches.


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