Christmas is coming and with Christmas comes office related obligations, one of the activities I volunteered to participate in is a cookie exchange (the other is Secret Santa, why? why did I do that?). I don’t always participate in office parties but when I do better believe me when I say I bring something that I want to eat with almost no regard for what my co-workers like. There, I said it. Don’t pretend you don’t do it either. I mean, I used to care but then I encountered so many people who refuse to try new things (once I had to explain what hummus was and that chickpeas were, in fact, not nuts and I know I sound a little condescending there so no need to email me about it, I already know that I’m kind of a jerk), so I stopped caring, but this is just cookies so I think it’ll be alright no matter what I bring. In the name of economy I’m going to kill two birds with one stone and bring them what I planned on snacking on this weekend anyway…
The Snack: Linzer Cookies!!!!!
I love linzer cookies, they’re my absolute favorite, although the DoubleTree Hotel’s fabulous chocolate chip cookie runs a close second. Anyway, they’re a variation on the Austrian Linzer Torte (also delicious) which is said to be the oldest cake in the world so that’s neat. Traditionally, both the torte and the cookies are made with ground hazelnuts but I hate hazelnuts so we’re gonna substitute almonds here. Also, traditionally you’re supposed to use redcurrant jam for the filling and I’m totally using store bought raspberry preserves, what can I say? I am quite the rebel. There was a time when I would’ve made my own preserves but that time has long since passed so…
Hardware you’ll need:
- Hand or Stand Mixer with paddle attachment, the wisk is okay too if you don’t have the paddle…I guess it isn’t that serious
- Sheet trays lined with parchment paper
- Cooling racks
- Cookie cutters of whatever shape you want, for this batch I’m using a 3 inch round one and then smaller shaped ones
- Fine mesh strainer for siftin’ the powdered sugar
- Measuring spoons and cups
- Food processor
Software you’ll need:
- 2 and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 2/3 cup sliced almonds
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp dried orange peel
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp almond extract
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 10 oz jar of seedless raspberry preserves
- About a 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, for dusting
1. Wash your hands.
2. Preheat the oven to 350° F, spread the almonds evenly on a baking sheet and toast about 4 to 5 minutes until lightly brown, take them out just as you smell them as they will experience some carryover cooking and continue to brown a little bit.
3. Whilst your almonds are cooling, blend your flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl (look at you with your time management and multitasking!)
4. Process your almonds and dried orange peel together until they’ve reached a medium grind, if you end up going a little crazy and make it finer that’s okay. Be sure to only pulse it, otherwise you’ll end up with almond butter.
5. In your mixing bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy–about 3 minutes. Then beat in the egg, vanilla, and almond extract until well incorporated (it might look like it’s going to separate at first but give it a minute and it’ll come together).
6. Reduce your mixing speed to low and gradually add the almonds, then add the flour mixture, in three additions. Mix until combined, it’ll start to come together like a dough ball.
7. Divide dough in half, shape into disks, wrap ’em up and refrigerate for about 2 hours, you want the dough to be firm but not super hard.
(Go do something productive whilst you wait, fold your laundry, volunteer at an animal shelter, I dunno, or nap…that’s what I did)
9. Preheat your oven back to 350° F. On a lightly floured surface roll out each piece of dough to about 1/8 in. in thickness, using a 3 inch cookie cutter cut out your rounds, count them, then using your smaller cutter cut out the center of half of them. If your dough starts getting too soft to work with throw it back in the fridge for a few minutes.
10. You’ll want to separate the tops from the bottoms because they won’t bake at the same rate–what with the holes in them and all.
11. Bake for about 12 to 13 minutes, rotating the sheet trays half way. Keep an eye on them really and watch for browning. These also experience carryover cooking and will continue to brown a bit after you pull them from the oven. Transfer to a wire rack and let them cool completely
12. Once cool spread the about a teaspoon of the preserves on the bottoms, top ’em, sift powdered sugar over top of them and store them betwixt layers of parchment paper. They can be stored in an airtight container for about 3 days, I think they start to taste best on the 2nd and 3rd day honestly because the jam settles into the cookie quite nicely.
And there you have it, a delicious, fancy pain in the ass cookie for your fancy, delicious, pain the in ass self.
For our drinky drink we have: De Perriere Brut Rosé
Any rosé would do but I love Champagne (sparkling wine, whatever) so very much. Opening champagne bottles makes me nervous (along with cans of dough) because I’m worried that it’s going to explode and kill me somehow, and according to the nice tour guide at Maison Veuve Clicqout you should hear a gentle hiss when you open a bottle and loudly popping it is considered quite vulgar, which is what I did so…good thing I am not entertaining in France (or maybe not a good thing? I think I’d rather be vulgar in France than a little depressed in Pittsburgh right about now if you’re pickin’ up with I’m throwin’ down). This bottle is a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot noir and is from the Burgundy region of France so it’s not actually Champagne but who really cares?
Anyway, this bottle is very delicious, considering how cheap it is, it’s actually better than some of the more expensive ones that I’ve had. The color is a lovely light pink and has a fruity aroma, like raspberries…which is what we’ve paired it with… It is crisp and refreshing and for a brut wine it isn’t very dry really, I’d even say it’s thirst quenching. The taste is very gentle, with hints of apple and grapefruit so it is a bit acidic with a slight tartness at the end not over-powering though. It got a bit sweeter after the 3rd glass, (me too! aha! I’m so funny). I’d also pair this with salmon, smoked chicken, roasted veggies, in fact I made salmon and roasted brussels sprouts with bacon for dinner the following night to finish the bottle so that’s fun. Also, I can tell that I’m going to get more and more repetitive with my adjectives but really there’s only so many ways to describe wine and I’m not yet at a point in this adventure where I can take a whiff and say “grown on a north facing hillside adjacent to a field of sunflowers, hand picked by Swiss field laborers in the rain on June 18th” so we’ll stick with “this burns” and “this does not burn” for now. KThx.
The Move: Sense and Sensibility
I told you there would be Jane Austen. I can’t think of anything better to watch whilst drinking my French sparking wine and snacking on Austrian cookies than an English drama, I feel so freaking cultured right now
Spoilers I guess? I mean the book is over 200 years old guys…
I chose the 2008 miniseries (although it’s only two episodes on the Hulu so…I guess it’s a micro-series?) because it more closely resembles the book and, I feel, is more visually pleasing. As much as I looove Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson, this cast is better and the script didn’t fail to include the humor that a lot of the other adaptations of Jane Austen novels seem to miss. Also, The Governor is extra nice to look at in this, I prefer him as a brooding, lovelorn Englishman as opposed to crazy and cutting the heads off of people, which is how so many people know him. Andrew Davies wrote the screenplay and commented that he wanted to make viewers forget Ang Lee’s 1995 movie and I think he does an excellent job of that. It also has my favorite love story formula: Girl meets man and she doesn’t particularly care for him and may even dislike him, girl falls for someone else who ends up not being what he seems and is actually a total jerk-face, girl realizes that she misjudged first man who is actually quite wonderful, Jane Austen really likes this formula as well. I never liked the “love at first sight” method à la Romeo and Juliet and even Les Misérables–it’s just too unrealistic, even for my standards, which are pretty unrealistic. Anyway…
I completely empathize with Eleanor repressing her emotions and baking her feelings away at the end, I can read her thoughts, “the man I love and thought married another woman, is in fact not married and is here apologizing to me and asking for my hand in marriage…just keep kneading this dough, girl, don’t let him see your cry face…feelings are for the weak”
Ps: I love how they act like they’re destitute in what is basically my dream house..a lovely cottage by the sea far far away from basically everyone, my god, and they still have two servants.