Coffee Stracciatella

For my birthday last year, I decided that the gift that I wanted to give myself the most was an ice cream maker. I love ice cream. I love how versatile it is. I love how it can be eaten a million different ways. Most of all, I just loved that there was a (relatively) inexpensive appliance out there that could help me make a treat that I seek out at various life stages (monthly mood swings, breakups, summer giddiness, etc. etc.)

The day it arrived my brain danced with all the different recipes that I could toss into my little white ice cream/gelato/sorbet/frozen yogurt maker, but, like with literally every single new thing I ever buy, I deemed it too nice to use just then and promptly put it back in its box to “rest” until an occasion momentous enough arose for me to finally break it out and use it. Classic Sydney move. My ice cream maker sat new, empty, and alone in its original packaging for 1.3 years.

Finally, friends, an occasion momentous enough arose: I found a recipe, and I wanted ice cream. Groundbreaking stuff, guys.

I am far and away a morning person. Always have been. When I was in college I woke up at 6:30 for my 8 AM classes with a pep in my step whilst my roommates couldn’t even utter a syllable without first groggily shoving a mug under the coffe-maker and taking a few sips. But there was one class that even I couldn’t wake myself up for and thus had to turn to those beyond delicious frappe drinks that Starbucks sells in grocery stores. My go-to was always “vanilla mocha.” Did it totally wake me up? Not really. Was it delicious? Totally!

And so, as I spooned this decadent coffee stracciatella into my mouth, all of a sudden the memories of my vanilla mocha frappe days came rushing back. I was there again, in that 8 AM, sipping away at my creamy, milky, choclatey coffee drink which was perfectly cold and perfectly delicious. And it of course makes perfect sense: Stracciatella is milk-based, mixed with heavy cream, sugar, vanilla, and egg yolks. Add in two heaping tablespoons of espresso powder, plus a drizzling of melted bittersweet chocolate (the latter is added whilst the ice cream is churning), and you’ve got the frozen vanilla mocha treat of dreams. It’s rich, creamy, decadent, and so velvety smooth. The coffee flavor is concentrated and completely complimented by the flecks of chocolate that, while being churned, freeze instantly and disperse throughout the entire ice cream. This particular ice cream is special, and I’m so glad it was my first homemade.

 

Have an ice cream maker? You’ve GOT to try this coffee stracciatella

 

COFFEE STRACIATELLA 

What You’ll Need:

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1 cup whole milk

Pinch of kosher salt

1/2 cup sugar, divided

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

5 large egg yolks

2 teaspoons instant espresso powder (I like Cafe Bustelo)

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted

 

DIRECTIONS 

In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, milk, salt, and 1/4 cup sugar. Next add the vanilla extract and stir to combine. Bring your mixture just to a simmer, stirring often to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved, remove from heat.

Whisk egg yolks and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a medium bowl until pale, which should take about 2 minutes. Very carefully whisk in about 1/2 cup of the warm cream mixture to temper the eggs, then whisk the yolk mixture into the remaining cream mixture. Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. This should take about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Strain the custard into a medium bowl set over a large bowl of ice water. Next, stir in the espresso powder until dissolved. Let the mixture cool, stirring every so often.

Process your custard in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions (Make sure to read them VERY carefully!). Once custard is frozen to your desired consistency in the ice cream maker, gradually pour in the melted chocolate (this is best to do when the machine is on, so you won’t get any frozen clumps). Process until the ice cream is flecked with chocolate, about 2-3 minutes longer.

At this stage, your ice cream will probably be at soft-serve consistency. If you prefer a harder consistency, go ahead and pop your ice cream into a freezer-safe storage container and into the freezer for another hour or two. The longer you keep it in, the more solid it will become. Enjoy!!

 

SOURCE: Bon Appetit 

Baked Lemon Brioche French Toast with Raspberries

 

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Lately I’ve had a hankering for french toast, but not a ton of time (or patience) in the morning to make it happen.  You have to soak the eggy bread in custard, you have to fry it on the stove, you have to fix the other side dishes that balance out the meal, you have to heat the syrup, etc. etc. etc. Who has time for that when every day you spend a an hour negotiating with your alarm clock for just five more minutes? So what does one do when they need a bright spot in a week of monotony, but very little time in the morning to make that happen? They fall in love with a make-ahead recipe like this one for Lemon Brioche French Toast with a fresh helping of minty-fresh raspberries on the side. Hello, bright spot.

This recipe is a citrus lover’s dreaaaam. There’s lemon zest in the custard mixture, then another hit in the freshly-squeezed lemon juice glaze.

What’s lovely about this baked version of french toast is the pillowy-soft consistency (almost like bread pudding) of the inner filling, mixed with a little bit of crispiness from the crusty top layer. And what better complement to the sweetness of the lemon brioche than the fresh, slightly tart macerated raspberries with mint? It’s tasty, and your breath will never smell better in your whole life.

This is a breakfast recipe for those bakers out there that love to plan ahead, like myself. Anything that can cut my overall time even the slightest bit, I’m willing to do. The make-ahead factor of this recipe is what makes it a total keeper: this dish can be made 24 whole hours in advance, and, if you ask me, the longer it sits in the fridge, the better it actually becomes! Overall prep time the night before is probably around 20-30 minutes, then cook time the next morning is around 20-30 minutes, making total time an hour MAXIMUM. Fab, right? Imagine what you can get done while your french toast is baking in the oven? We’re talkin’ bacon, we’re talkin’ eggs, we’re talkin’ the works, people. I seriously can’t say enough great things about it. Oh wait, there’s one more: leftovers reheat PERFECTLY. So don’t feel guilty if it’s just you enjoying a special breakfast for yourself; there’s no need to waste a thing. If you play your cards right, you could have a special breakfast almost every day of the week. And breakfast is the most important meal of the day, you know.

Have it for brunch, or have it on a regular old Monday. Either way, you’re on your way to a baked breakfast of champions.

 

LEMON-BRIOCHE FRENCH TOAST W/ MINTY RASPBERRIES

What You’ll Need:

(For the French Toast)

-2 lemons, zested and juiced

-3 large eggs

-1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed

-3 cups whole milk

-1 teaspoon vanilla extract

-1/4 teaspoon salt

-1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

-1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting

(For the Minty-Raspberries)

-12 ounces raspberries, lightly washed and inspected

-3 tablespoons sugar, plus more if adjustment is needed

-1/4 cup loosely-packed mint leaves

 

DIRECTIONS 

*If you’re making it ahead*

Grease well a 9 x 13 pan with butter, then set aside.

Slice the bread into 1/2 inch thick slices, then cut each slice in half. Next, take half of the bread slices and lay them in the baking sheet, making sure that there are overlapping layers. Sprinkle the bread slices with half of the lemon zest.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, then whisk in the brown sugar. Whisk until the ingredients are well combined. Next, whisk in the milk, vanilla, salt, nutmeg, and the rest of the lemon zest. Pour half of the custard mixture over the bread in the prepared baking dish, then layer the rest of the bread on top. Evenly pour the rest of the custard mixture over the bread to coat it.

Cover and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, take the casserole out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for at least 10 minutes before baking.

 

*If you’re making it the same day*

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Do all of the instructions above.

When ready, bake the lemon brioche french toast for 20-30 minutes (make sure to check on it every so often because the crust of the bread tends to darken quite quickly), or until golden brown on top and puffy.

While the french toast is baking, whisk the lemon juice with the confectioners’ sugar. Once you have taken the french toast out of the oven, immediately drizzle the glaze evenly over the top. Next, add a few extra teaspoons of confectioners’ sugar to a fine strainer or shaker and add a light dusting over the top of the casserole.

Let the dish cool for at least 15 minutes before serving,

*While the dish is cooling*

Add the raspberries to a medium-sized bowl, then add the sugar and fresh chopped mint. Gently mix together, then let sit for 5 minutes so that the raspberries have a chance to release their juices. Add more sugar if the raspberries are still a little tart.

Serve the french toast in large slices, with raspberries on the side.

 

To store: Cover the dish in plastic wrap and store in the fridge. Let it come to room temperature for 10 minutes before reheating in the oven.

 

SOURCE: Slightly adapted from The Kitchn

Vanilla Chai Chocolate Truffles

On this episode of “Sydney Makes Easy Things That Impress Her Friends,” we’re talkin’ ’bout chocolate truffles. But not just any regular chocolate truffles, oh no, we’re throwing vanilla chai into the mix. Essentially, they’re chocolate balls, but doesn’t the word “truffle” just make it sound much fancier? Ya, I agree.

The bond that a woman of color has with her hairdresser is one that is sacred, and must be fostered and nurtured. I do this by surprising mine with edible treats at least once a month. And since the hot cross buns that I made a few weeks back were given to family and church members, I decided that my beloved beautician should get something specifically made JUST for her. And like many, many women that I know, she looooooooooves  chocolate. So, I thought, what better treat than just straight-up homemade truffles?

During the holiday season my television basically stays on Food Network and Cooking Channel, and I watched a special episode of Giada at Home in which she made chocolate truffles for some “guests” (more likely the production crew, but ya know, TV magic and all that) who were stopping by for a holiday party. She stepped it up by brewing a bunch of bags chai  in heavy cream, then taking it off the heat and pouring it over chocolate to melt it. Then she stirred it all together until it turned into chocolate ganache, refrigerated it for a few hours until it set, then scooped out the mixture by the tablespoon, rolled it into a ball, coated it in cocoa powder, and then wrapped a little gold leaf around each for a classy touch. They were so cute and elegant, so I logged the recipe away for an occasion when I would really, really want to make them. But when it came time to make these truffles, wouldn’t you know it, I didn’t have any gold leaf on hand (I’m not workin’ with a Food Network budget here), and instead of brewing with classic chai, I decided to switch it up with my favorite bundling of vanilla chai tea bags. Was it a success? Oh yeah. She loved them!

These truffles are perfect for anyone who has a semi-sweet tooth. They’ve got a bit of an edge to them, with just the hint of sweetness to balance everything out. Basically, you get this intensely rich, deep chocolatey flavor, mixed with the warmth of spices that you find in classic chai, and finished off with the subtle hint of vanilla. The vanilla may just be a gentle whisper, but it definitely won’t let you ever forget that it’s there.

Best of all, they can be made wayyyy in advance, which works perfectly for me because I can enjoy leftover truffles that didn’t fit in the gifted container for weeks to come.

Vanilla Chai Chocolate Truffles: Good for friendship, good for random chocolate cravings.

 

VANILLA CHAI CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES 

What You’ll Need:

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

7 bags vanilla chai tea (I like Bigelow)

1/4 teaspoon salt

9 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped

2/3 cup cocoa powder

 

DIRECTIONS

Before you begin, tie all of your tea bag strings together in a knot. This makes it much easier to fish them out when you’ve finished with them.

Pour the heavy cream into a small saucepan, then add your tea bags. Place the pan over medium-low heat, warming the cream slowly; stir occasionally. You’ll know when your mixture is heated through when you see little bubbles start to form around the edges of the cream, about 5-7 minutes. Simmer for 3 minutes more, then remove from heat.

Remove the tea bags from the sauce pan. Place the finely chopped chocolate and salt in a medium bowl, then strain the cream mixture over it using a fine-mesh strainer. Let sit for 3 minutes so that the chocolate begins to melt on its own. Slowly whisk the melted chocolate into the cream starting in the center of the bowl, then slowly making your way outwards. Remember to do this slowly and carefully so that the chocolate doesn’t seize up! Continue whisking until the mixture is smooth and completely blended. Place a piece of plastic wrap DIRECTLY on top of the ganache, and press down gently to make sure the surface is completely covered.  Let set in the  refrigerator for AT LEAST 3 hours, but the best is overnight. The mixture should be firm by that time, but still easy to work it.

Measure your coca powder, then place in a small, shallow bowl. With a tablespoon cookie scoop (or just a tablespoon measuring spoon), scoop even rounds of ganache into your palm, then very quickly but gently roll into a ball.  Next. roll the ball in the coca powder to coat; gently shake off any excess.. Repeat this process until you’ve run out of ganache. Place your truffles in an airtight container and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.

Make Ahead: The truffles can be made several weeks ahead of time, kept refrigerated in an airtight container. On the day of serving, roll each in the cocoa powder.

 

 

SOURCE: Very, very slightly adapted from Giada De Laurentis 

 

 

Hot Cross Buns

Hiiiiiiiiiiiii, how was your Easter??  Mine was epic and uplifting, and full of food. Simply the best.

Have you ever had hot cross buns? This was my first year. Before that, my only knowledge of them began and ended with the song of the same name that I was forced to learn on the recorder in 7th grade. That was it. (Fun fact: I haven’t picked up the recorder since.) But when you’re young, it’s almost a necessity that you start your own traditions and/or jump on holiday-specific bandwagons, so here we are. And I have to tell you: I can’t believe I’ve lived my life up until now without hot cross buns. I mean, it’s crazy. I can honestly say, in the four years that I have been baking, hot cross buns are the best things to ever come out of my oven. BY. FAR. Easter Sunday’s breakfast was just EXCELLENT, you guys.

Best served warm, these buns are yeasty, squishy, icing-topped perfection. Traditionally, hot cross buns are filled with dried fruit like raisins, currants, cherries, or dates, but my grocery store was serisouly lacking in the traditional dried mixed fruit bags. What I found instead was a mix of dried strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and cranberries, and I LOVED that combination when paired with the warmed apricot jam and blend of cardamom and cinnamon spices. And while I enjoyed the little bursts of strawberries I got, next time ’round, I’ll try to make my own fruit mix because the cardamom-cinnamon was practically begging for raisins. Either way, fruit in yeast rolls just WORKS.

You may see these most often on Easter, but something tells me these would work extremely well around Christmas time…or just all-year-round in general.

 

It’s never too late for Hot Cross Buns.

 

Find the recipe HERE from Bon Appetit! 

 

 

 

WEEKEND READS

What am I looking forward to this week? Brooklyn  will be on my doorstep in TWO DAYS. I told you last week that the book changed my life, and when I heard that they were making a movie….well, I could barely contain myself. Unfortunately, going to see it in theaters proved to be much more difficult than say, if I wanted to see Zoolander 2, so I resigned to wait until it came out on DVD. AND THAT DAY IS FAST APPROACHING. I’ve been re-reading the book in anticipation of comparisons, and literally crossing out the days in my calendar. So stoked.

Here’s what else I’ve been reading this week:

Using food to fight the power? I’m all about it! How Suffragists Used Cookbooks as a Recipe for Subversion

Do you dye Easter eggs? I haven’t done it in agessss, but I might start this year now that I’ve seen these awesome minimalist designs! So rad.

Learning to arrange flowers is on my eternal to-do list. Here’s a fun article about supermarket flower hacks!

Donut + Macaroon= The Macaronut is upon us. Silly? Yes. Delicious? I’m thinking also yes, yes, and yes.

I’m  definitely teetering on the line between ‘too much’ and ‘just enough’ clutter every single day of my life; Strike the Right Balance: Having Just Enough ‘Good Clutter’ .

Have you pre-ordered Sweeter Off the Vine yet?? Yossy Arefi is one of my favorite food photographers/bloggers ever! You HAVE to buy this book. March 22nd, get here faster!!

 

How’s your Sunday going? Mine’s rainy, and I’m feeling very sleepy/content.

Dark Chocolate and Anise Biscotti

There are two sides to me. One side has this need to bake things all the time. The other side is aware that if I bake all the time, then I will feel obligated to eat everything I’ve made in the event that I don’t have anyone to share the wealth with. It’s very complicated. That’s why I love, love, love biscotti. They’re crunchy, they’re sturdy, and they last for WEEKS at a time.  I have the freedom to nibble (or not nibble) at my leisure without the looming pressure to not waste a single crumb. It’s beautiful.

Biscotti are tough cookies in the best way. The longevity of them is fantastic, but they’re also the perfect option for care packages. As much as I love the Midwest (especially now that I can walk outside without a parka), most of the people I care about live in completely different parts of the country. You know that I am a big fan of sending and receiving gifts in the mail. but the edible options for packages are limited. Biscotti are PERFECT for this task.

This week I whipped up a quick batch of Buttery-Cayenne Pecans, then made these Dark Chocolate Anise Biscotti, wrapped everything in half a roll of bubble wrap, threw in a couple of heartfelt cards, then sent them on their way. Two days later, I got a “thank you” text, and a very warm heart. Care packages are my jam. And one of these days, you and I are going to make one together, step-by-step.

As you’re well aware by now, I am a huge fan of deceptively easy recipes. Making biscotti? Wayyyy easier than you think. All you have to do is keep up with the time. The rest is a total breeze.

What I love most about this recipe is that it’s a lot like having a chocolate chip cookie, but with a hint of licorice. And if you aren’t a black licorice fan (I’m not,), have no fear, you’ll still love these The anise seeds bring a subtle flavor of licorice that does nothing but completely compliment the oodles of dark chocolate chunks throughout. And I will never turn down a crispy cookie that brings a little texture to the game. If a little softness is more of what you’re after, you totally have my permission to dunk a couple of these babies in a steaming cup of coffee.

Eat some biscotti.

Send some to your friends.

Do your thing.

 

 

DARK CHOCOLATE AND ANISE BISCOTTI 

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons anise seeds, slightly crushed
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 4 oz chocolate, roughly chopped

DIRECTIONS

Place oven racks in the center and upper third of the oven, then preheat to 325 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

Whisk together the flour, slightly crushed anise seeds, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl, then set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer, or with a wooden spoon), cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy; about 5 minutes.

Reduce mixer speed to low, then add one egg and the egg yolk, then beat until well combined; about 3 minutes.

Add the flour mixture all at once to the stand mixer, and beat on low until well combined. The dough may seem a bit crumbly. Next, add the chocolate chunks and make sure they are evenly distributed throughout.

Divide the dough in half, then place each half on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Gently knead the dough a few times, just to get it to come together a little more. Next, shape each dough into logs about 8 inches long, and 1 1/2 inches wide. Beat the remaining egg, then generously brush it over each log. Next, sprinkle sugar liberally over each log.

Bake the biscotti on both racks for 20 minutes, then swap racks and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, until the biscotti are golden brown and baked all the way through.

Take your cookie sheets out of the oven, and let the biscotti rest for a few minutes. Once the biscotti logs are cool enough to handle, cut into 1-inch slices using a serrated knife, cutting in a swift motion.

Place the cookies cut side up onto the baking sheets, then put back in the oven for another 15-25 minutes, depending on how crisp you’d like your biscotti to be. (I prefer mine on the crispier side, so I kept an eye on mine for 25 minutes.)

For an even crispiness, flip your biscotti over and bake for another 2-5 minutes.

Let cool, then store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. 

 

SOURCE: Adapted from Joy the Baker Cookbook: 100 Simple and Comforting Recipes 

WEEKEND READS

An Ode to Downton Abbey

DA

Why is it that you have to go away?

Indefinitely, I’d love for you to stay

But at least I still get to press “play…”

ONE LAST TIME

Guys, I’m totally not ready for Downton Abbey to be over! It’s been my staple January show for FOUR YEARS (I got in on the fun two years into the game), and I’m just not ready to part with it. Sure, I know shows can’t last forever, but six seasons just doesn’t feel like enough. And what I don’t want is for the finale to end and everyone just goes about living their lives, leaving me to use my own imagination as to how each person gets on. I’d rather the finale last four hours tonight and just show me how every single person lives a super long, happy life, then passes away. Or at LEAST to show what happens to Downton during World War Two. Perhaps they take in some children from London? I feel like there’s good material there. At any rate, I’m not ready to say goodbye. Are you?

Let’s procrastinate the inevitable adieu of one of the greatest shows on television together.

Here are some of my favorite reads of the week:

-Brooklyn the movie may not have won last week at the Oscars, but it won every award in my book. Here’s a nice comparison of Brooklyn then vs. Brooklyn now. P.S. Have you read the book? Get on it. Brooklyn: A Novel changed everything for me.

-Prepare yourselves: Marimekko is coming to Target NEXT MONTH. TOO AMPED.

-I’m in the market for some new specs, and was looking for companies that are different from the usual suspects. Thanks, Brit + Co!

-This beats 4 pretzels in a foil package any day: Air France + Daniel Boulud = Best In-Flight Meals Ever.

-I always love a good food photography app, and this new one by the LINE Corporation, “Foodie,” looks promising! Have you guys tried it yet?

 

Happy Sunday/ Happy Last Time That We’ll Ever See A New Episode of Downton Abbey…Day!

Classic Chocolate Pie

There’s something very special about being a Northerner with deep connections to the South: tradition. Whether you are up North or down South, there is nothing more sacred than tradition. I love that.

These days in the culinary world, it’s about finding the next big innovation. It’s about blowing peoples’ minds with the new and the shocking. It’s about re-inventing the already re-invented. Everything has to be bigger and better and larger than life. But, isn’t it nice to sometimes just take a quick step back to honor the classics? Isn’t it important to acknowledge the things that have lasted the test of time? I think so. I think that, along with apple pie, chocolate pie is about as classic as they come.

 

What I love about this chocolate pie is that it really is a classic in more than one sense of the word. It’s easy, which the best pies always are. And it’s just straight-up what it is: super. super chocolatey.

No fuss, no frills, just supreme fudginess and an utterly buttery, flaky pie crust. And don’t forget a generous slathering of homemade whipped cream on top; that’s a must-have.

 

CLASSIC CHOCOLATE PIE  

What You’ll Need:

1 Flaky Pie Crust 

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 large eggs, beaten

3/4 cup evaporated milk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

homemade whipped cream, for serving (optional)

1 ounce dark chocolate, for shaving (optional)

 

Find the recipe on Food and Wine.

WEEKEND READS

Screen Shot 2016-02-27 at 8.34.14 PM

Life is beautiful because life currently includes 54 degree weather. I freed my light jacket from its prison (my closet) and willingly ventured outdoors; can you believe it? I saw so many bikers and joggers, and kids riding tricycles, and dogs pulling on their leashes, and neighbors that I haven’t seen in months emerging from their cocoons. It’s been a magical sight t0 behold. But this glorious Spring-like weather is fleeting, so if you’ve missed the teeny-tiny window of non-freezing weather, now’s a great time to catch up on some reading.

Here’s what I’ve been diggin’ this week:

Old Hollywood Glamour + Food = Love. Here’s what they served at the very first Oscar’s.

I’m all about nice-smellin homes. The Kitchn’s got some nice tips!

As Saveur Magazine perfectly put it: “We don’t talk about Midwestern food enough.” I wholeheartedly agree. Sugar Cream Pie anyone?

I’m on a The Office kick as of late, so seeing BJ Novak tweet out his list of never-ending ideas for Michael Scott via The List App, was all kinds of awesome.

Have you heard of the Swedish equivalent to tea time, Fika? This should totally catch on.

Speaking of Tea Time…When Britain Fought Against the Tyranny of Tea Breaks.

We should all be out buying the latest issue of Bon Appetit. Why, you ask? Because it was shot ENTIRELY on iPhones! I can get behind that.

Real talk: all I’ve ever really wanted is Meryl Streep’s kitchen in It’s Complicated; Memorable Kitchens in Cinematic History

 

If you need me, I’ll be becoming one with nature for the next 5 hours.

 

Happy Sunday!

Heart-Shaped Jammy Sammy Cookies

I know February 14th is long-gone, but I subscribe to Valentine’s Day-cutesienss 365 days out of the year.

By the way, how was your Valentine’s Day? Mine was surprisingly fun this year, which has freed me from the cycle of weird/awkward/disastrous scenes of Valentine’s Day past. I volunteered at the an annual Sweetheart Dinner (last year I made this French Silk Pie), and had a BLAST. There were several courses involved, and no time to take a breath as we were each cooking over our respective dishes (I was on dessert duty but got roped into making seafood Alfredo once we got there). Lots of “behind”-s, and “this is ready to go out!”-s, and “We need more ginger ale for the punch!”-s were thrown out, and it reminded me of how much I love being in a busy kitchen. I live for that hustle and bustle sometimes. I mean, I’ve never dried so many dishes, or continuously scrubbed the same countertops so many times in my entire life, but MAN was it worth it. It was a really classy affair.

Would you like to know the best bit? These cookies were a BIG HIT!

“Jammy Sammie Cookies” is just the name that I wrote to be cute/slightly annoying. You’re probably more familiar with the name “Linzer,” because of the filling and shape cut out of the center. I generally see Linzer cookies the most during the Holiday Season, but if you ask me, the cookie cutout + filling pairing should be a yearlong affair. And what goes better with a heart shape on Valentine’s Day than fresh strawberry jam? Red is like the official unofficial color of V-Day, so the filling of these cookies were required to match accordingly.

Quick question: how do you feel about homemade jam? Me? I’m all about it. I feel like there’s nothing that makes me feel cozier than when I’m making jam from scratch. Sure, it takes way less time to just pick a jar off the shelf at your local grocery store, but when you make it yourself you: A) Know exactly what has gone into it, and B) MADE. IT. YOURSELF. Helloooooooo! It’s (relatively) fast, (totally) easy, (unbelievably) fresh, and you know it’s always made with love.

Now pair that sweet, sweet jam with some deliciously soft shortbread plus a liberal sprinkling of powdered sugar for good measure, and you’ve got the stuff of dreams, kids. What could be better?

Since you’ll definitely have jam left over after filling the cookies, might I make a few suggestions as to what to use it on?

  1. Biscuits
  2. Scones
  3. Toast
  4. Fingers dipped in
  5. By the spoonful
  6. etc. etc.

And let’s just quickly talk about the versatility of these cookies, shall we? Yes, they were made for February 14th, but they can go wayyy beyond that. We’re talkin’ tea parties, birthday parties, bridal showers, picnics, breakfasts, coffee breaks, dates, etc. etc. Cookie hearts filled with homemade jam never go out of season.

It’s a beautiful thing.

 

 

HEART-SHAPED JAMMY SAMMY COOKIES

What You’ll Need:

For the shortbread:

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Powdered sugar for sprinkling

For the jam:

32 oz (two 16 oz containers) strawberries

1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon  brown sugar

Pinch of salt

Zest of 1 whole lemon + juice of half a lemon

 

DIRECTIONS:

First, let’s make the shortbread cookie dough:

 In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a hand mixer, or a wooden spoon), add the butter, sugar, and salt and beat until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add the egg and egg yolk one at a time, making sure each addition is well combined. Next, add the vanilla extract. Add the flour in three batches, making sure each addition is well combined (but don’t over-mix), before adding more flour. When necessary, scrape down the sides of the bowl using a rubber spatula.

Once your dough has just come together, lay your dough out on a plastic sheet, then divide it in half. Wrap each half tightly in plastic wrap, then shape to form discs. Refrigerate the discs for at least one hour, but best is overnight.

Ok, dough’s done, now let’s make the jam:

Rinse strawberries before using, and let drain completely before getting started.

Once your strawberries have been washed, hull each strawberry, then cut into quarters. Place all of your cut up strawberries in a medium sauce pan. Next, add your brown sugar, pinch of salt, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Using a potato masher (or the back of a wooden spoon), muddle all of your ingredients together, making sure that the berries’ juices are starting to release, and your sugar and salt have started to dissolve.

Cook your fruit compote, stirring frequently, over medium-high heat until your jam has thickened, and it passes the line test (a line can be drawn down the center of the spoon without the juices running); On my stove, that takes about 30-35 minutes. Along the way, make sure to give your jam a few taste tests, and adjust the flavors to your liking. The mixture will bubble quite a bit and juice may jump out of the pan occasionally, so watch out for that!

When your jam has come together, take it off the heat and let it cool completely before transferring it to a mason jar or tupperware container.

This jam will last for several weeks refrigerated.

VERY IMPORTANT: DO NOT leave the stove whilst you’re making your jam. One minute it can still be too runny, then the next you’re cleaning burnt strawberry syrup out of the pan until your arms fall off. Trust me. Stay put. Keep stirring.

Ok, my dough has rested. Time to make some cookies!

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

Remove the first disc of dough and let sit on a counter for ten minutes; this allows it to come to room temperature, thus making it much easier to roll out.

Liberally flour a rolling pin and work surface.

Roll the cookie dough out to a 1/8 inch thickness, then, using a floured heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out shapes. Transfer the hearts to the cookie sheets lined with parchment paper, about 1-inch apart. Stamp a hole out of the center of half the cookies using the tip of a circle piping tip. Repeat the process with any remaining scraps, and with the second disc of dough.

Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 7-10 minutes (depending on your oven),  or until the cookies have started to lightly brown around the edges. Allow the cookies to cool for five minutes on the baking sheet before transferring them to wire racks to cool completely.

Transfer the cookies with the holes cut out of the center to one of the cool baking sheets (keep the parchment paper on). Sprinkle a generous amount of powdered sugar over them using a sifter, mesh strainer, or powdered sugar shaker. (Aren’t you glad you have the parchment paper now to catch the excess sugar?) Flip the bottom cookies (no holes in them) over so that the underside is facing you, then apply about a teaspoon of jam right in the center of each. Place the tops on, then lightly press down so that you create a sandwich. The jam should spread evenly to the edges and through the center hole without overflowing. Enjoy!

To Store: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to a week.

 

 

SOURCE: Adapted from A Cozy Kitchen