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Sweet, Golden, Indulgent: Bake the Perfect Batch of Valentine’s Day Cookies

Part of an ongoing series from Chef Britta Kramer

Posted on

In my family, it was tradition to bake together during the holidays and the Austrian Linzer cookie was always my favorite. It has the perfect combination of jam and powdered sugar. I grew up blessed in the fact that all the women in my family were master bakers. One of my great-grandmothers was asked by the executive chef of an authentic German restaurant in Milwaukee to visit their kitchen to diagnose why their strudel dough wasn’t rising properly. She observed the entire process, approving of their procedure, recipe and ingredients. Then she noticed a draft from an open door. There was the culprit.

Baking is delicate, precise work where something as simple as a cold breeze can affect the final product. My maternal grandmother spent years tweaking and perfecting her recipe for Linzer cookies. These cookies are not just for the holidays but an adorable cookie to gift or share during Valentine’s Day. I want to share with you my grandma’s recipe and a few tips I’ve learned from the women in my family for the next time you bake for yours.

Cookie

Oma’s Linzer Cookie Recipe

Ingredients
2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the butter and sugar until just combined using a hand mixer. (You can also use a Cuisinart with the dough attachment, which is my preferred method). Using a microplane, zest 1 lemon into the creamed butter, sugar mixture. Add egg and yolks. In a separate bowl, sift flour and baking powder, then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low until dough comes together. Place dough on a clean, cold surface sprinkled with flour and knead the dough into flat disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

3. Roll out refrigerated dough to an 1/8 inch thickness. The more even the thickness, the better the end product. Cut 3-inch rounds using a plain or flutted cookie cutter. With half of the cookies, cut holes in the center using a round or heart shaped cutter.

4. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and place cookies on the baking sheet with ½ inch enough between each cookie.

5. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes, or until the edges become light brown. Allow to cool to room temperature. Dust the top of each but out cookie with confectioner’s sugar. Spread a small dollop of raspberry jam on the flat side of each solid cookie. Press the flat side of the cookies together with the jam in the center.

For Best Results:

  • Use sheet pan with sides and parchment paper (this will help the cookies to cook evenly). When I’ve used cookie sheets without sides in the past some of the cookies will brown more quickly.
  • Every oven is a little different. Cook until slightly brown around the edges. Carefully remove the entire sheet of parchment with the cookies – left on the pan they will continue to cook.
  • Linzer Cookies

    Tips to Perfect Your Baking:

    Bring your baking ingredients to room temperature. When a recipe calls for room temperature butter, I tend to bring my eggs to room temperature to be on the safe side. Room temperature eggs tend to disperse through the batter better than eggs fresh out of the fridge.

    Tip #1: How to Bring Butter to Room Temperature

    The easiest and most effective way to bring butter to room temperature is to simply let it sit at room temperature for several hours. If I know I’m baking the following morning, I set my butter on the counter the night before and let it sit at room temperature over night.

    If you’ve decided to make these cookies and you don’t have hours to wait for the butter to come to room temperature, I have a few do’s and don’ts for speeding up the process.

    Microwave Method
    This is a definite don’t. Every microwave varies and within seconds you can produce a pool of butter instead of a perfectly soften stick — or worse a butter explosion that will be a mess to clean up later. Melted butter is not softened butter and the difference will have a major impact on your dough.

    Cubing Method
    Cut the stick(s) into sections and then cut the butter into smaller cubes. The butter will soften sooner in smaller pieces and within an hour you should have softened butter.

    Grating Method
    If you keep your butter in the freezer you can use a box grater to shred your butter and this will soften the fastest.

    Tip #2: How to Bring Eggs to Room Temperature

    Again, if you have the time you can set the eggs out on the counter for an hour—my preferred method.

    If you don’t have that extra hour, place eggs in a bowl of warm (not hot) water. Hot water will start to cook the egg and again change the consistency of your dough. Leave the eggs in the water for 5- 10 minutes or until they no longer feel cool to the touch.

    Tip #3: How to Make Your Baked Goods Stand Out

    High Quality Vanilla
    I like to purchase my vanilla from a specialty store vs. a grocery store. The difference in quality and flavor will make your baked goods stand out.

    Homemade Vanilla Sugar
    My mother always had a separate mason jar filled with sugar and one vanilla bean to make vanilla sugar. I add a small amount of vanilla sugar to give my desserts a subtle but deeper vanilla flavor.

    How to Make Home-Made Vanilla Sugar
    Simply place 2 cups of sugar in a mason jar with one whole vanilla bean. Slice the bean down the center. With the back of a pairing knife, scrape the seeds into the jar filled with sugar. Bury the bean in the sugar. Seal the jar with an airtight lid. Allow to sit for 1 to 2 weeks. Use as regular, granulated sugar for baking and in your coffee. This can also be used for savory dishes such as a homemade BBQ sauce or a coffee rub for grilling.


    Custom model

    Preserving your ingredients is of the utmost importance to ensure your baked goods taste fresh and are full of flavor. U-Line’s Modular 3000 Series Models are equipped with the U-Select® Control. The U-Select® Control is programmed with five distinct modes – Deli, Market, Pantry, Root Cellar and Beverage. Each mode has an optimal set point within a designated temperature range that can also be adjusted for personal preference. Many of the dry ingredients used for baking should be stored in Pantry mode, and wet ingredients like eggs, milk, and butter should be stored in Deli mode, as shown above. Read more about the U-Select® Control capabilities here.

    About U-Line

    For over five decades, and through three generations, U-Line continues to be the American leader in innovation, quality and performance in the premium modular ice making, refrigeration and wine preservation market. Delivering versatility and flexibility for multiple applications including residential, light commercial, outdoor and marine use, U-Line's complete product collection includes modular Wine Captain® Models, Beverage Centers, Clear Ice Machines, Crescent Ice Makers, Glass & Solid Door Refrigerators, Drawer Models, Freezers, and Combo® Models.

    Corporate headquarters have been based in Milwaukee since 1962, a West Coast office was established in Laguna Beach, California in 2006, and European support is located in Dublin, Ireland. U-Line has shipped 115 and 220-240 volt product worldwide for several decades. U-Line continues to provide premium modular refrigeration products in North America, Asia, Africa, Oceania, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. Design, engineering and final assembly of all products is completed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. For more information on U-Line and its products visit u-line.com