Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine Linzer Cookies

Mozart´s house in Vienna
After enjoying desserts that seemed to be almost exclusively adorned by giant "erdbeeres" (strawberries) at a Viennese cafe, it is a good idea to walk them off under snowflakes sprinkled by clouds onto the sidewalks, and head to a small apartment that is announced by large, proud, flags that sway in the breeze over centuries-old cobblestones. After you climb the staircase, you can find documents signed by Mozart, as well as reproductions of the Marriage of Figaro, which he composed in that very house, which he lived in for four years. To this day, Austrian and foreign spectators flock daily to the Mozartkonzerts, to watch men in bulky pastel-colored wigs sing and play instruments. The harmonious symphonies bring tears to the public´s eyes, even if they have heard them time and time again. Even the tourists who didn´t listen to classical music are converted to Mozart after this initiation.
When Mozart began living in Vienna, he took a trip to do several concerts, stopping long enough to write a famous symphony in the town of Linz,the home of the oldest torte known in the world. Might he have eaten a piece of this torte, as he scribbled notes furiously with a quill pen, with music flowing from imaginary instruments dancing through his head?

The linzer torte, or a deep dish pie made with almond flour crust, has a lattice top that is dark brown in color, and is brimming with preserves; it is a good way to showcase a special jam one has previously prepared. It was created in Linz in the 17th century. Rumor has it that the recipe travelled with Austrian immigrants to Wisconsin.  The traditional ways of cutting the cookie version of this torte are to have a bottom circle surrounded by scallops and a top cookie that has three holes in the middle, called eyes (Augen).  It is made with almond flour, though some cooks substitute pecans or hazelnuts, which must result in a tasty dough as well.

Wilton Linzer Sandwich Cookie Recipe, which comes with cookie plunger for the Linzer Cookies http://www.wilton.com/store/site/product.cfm?sku=2308-3800
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup finely ground almonds (2 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam or apricot jam or black currant jam
Confectioners´sugar (optional but recommended)

First, you blanch the nuts if they have the skin on them, then remove the skins, and grind them in a coffee grinder. Beat butter and sugar with mixer until light and fluffy.Add egg and vanilla and mix well. Combine nuts, flour, and cinnamon, and add to the mixing bowl. When the dough is completed, chill in the refrigerator,  in 2 separate pieces, and take out later to roll out 1/8 in. thick and cut out the cookies. Cut out the same number of tops and bottoms. The bottoms don´t have any holes, and the tops will have cut-out hearts, stars, circles, etc. Place the cut-outs on parchment paper on a baking sheet.
Using parchment paper is fun, and is often advised especially when you´re working with almond dough, for some reason.
Bake 10-12 minutes or until ight golden brown. Cool on cookie sheet 2 minutes; remove from sheet and cool completely. Invert botton cookies and spread with a teaspoon of jam. After the cookies are out of the oven, use a sifter to place the confectioner´s sugar on them, and make sure you do it BEFORE you fill the cookie. If you make a mistake and do it after you filled the cookie, just open up the sandwich, rearrange the jelly or put some more in the center, and close it up again.  Makes 20-24 cookies.
The traditional preserves used to fill these cookies are black currant, raspberry and apricot.
In addition to apricot and strawberry (I didn´t have raspberry) I also used chocolate hazelnut spread, as some people do. What´s that you say? That´s not traditional? I don´t understand what you mean....All I know is that it´s delicious.

Upcoming recipes
New Orleans Mardi Gras King Cake
Guatemalan White Canillitas
Spanish Natillas with Berries
Irish St. Patrick´s Cakes
Salvadorean Pastelitos de Leche Poleada (Custard Tartlets)
and more!


Videos of Vienna: http://www.ehow.com/video_4978602_vienna-tourism-mozarts-house.html
Video of Vienna: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=roSgVaeTOsQ

Here´s other recipes: http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/video/#v4989312001

No comments: