If you’re like me and your menu revolves around fresh produce, February can be a bit of a wasteland in terms of food inspiration. Thankfully Valentine’s Day is right in the middle to cheer things up, and for me, Valentine’s Day is a celebration of all the people in my life whom I love; it’s not just for sweethearts!
To get the love out, I’m making some Linzer tart cookies with a raspberry jam filling as well as a couple of recipes that would be lovely for a Sunday afternoon or Valentine’s Day tea party.
The first thing you’ll need is tea. I recommend that you choose a strong black tea such as Assam, English Breakfast, Darjeeling, or Earl Grey.
To make a perfect pot of tea, warm the teapot by pouring in some hot water. Let the pot warm for a minute or so, then discard the water.
Add 1 teaspoon (or teabag) of tea per person, plus one for the pot. If you are using loose tea, which I prefer, you may either add it directly to the pot and then strain it as you pour it out into individual teacups, or you can use a tea infuser. They also make disposable paper or reusable cloth drawstring tea bags that are quite nice, and I like being able to adjust the amount of tea in the bags vs having a pre-measured amount in a commercial tea bag.
Pour your boiling water over your tea, cover the teapot with a tea cozy or a kitchen towel, and allow to steep for four minutes.
Serve with milk, lemon wedges, sugar or honey.
Afternoon tea is traditionally accompanied by an assortment of small sweet and savory treats. In this case, a scone, a cookie, and some cucumber salmon sandwiches. Just enough to satisfy your guests without ruining their appetite for dinner.
Linzer Tart Cookies
Makes about a dozen cookies
Preheat oven to 350 F
6 oz butter, softened
½ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/3 cup flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup hazelnuts, very finely chopped or pulsed in food processor
½ tsp salt
Cookie cutters: you’ll need two sizes: a larger one for each side of the sandwich cookies, and a smaller one to cut out the little window out of one of them for the jam. I used heart-shaped, but rounds are nice as well.
Beat the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer or with a hand beater. Add the egg and vanilla and beat well.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, hazelnuts and salt.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined. Divide the dough in half, form each into a disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Remove the dough from the fridge and let warm up for about 10 minutes. On a floured surface, roll each disc out until about 1/8 inch thick. Using your large cookie cutter, cut out two cookies per tart, using the smaller cookie cutter to cut the center out of one of each set. Place your cookies on a parchment-lined cookie tin and refrigerate for about 20 minutes.
Bake for about 12 minutes until just golden. Remove the pan from the oven and allow cookies to rest on the pan for a few minutes, then let them finish cooling on a cooling rack.
Sift or sprinkle the confectioner’s sugar onto the cookies with the holes in them. Flip the cookies without holes over (nice side out) and spread 1 tsp of jam onto them. Top with the sugar-dusted cookies.