Linzer Heart Attack

I am in a floral phase… and these cookies were no exception. Maybe by baking with flowers, I will summon spring into existence.  It’s worth a try!  I’ve used dry rose flowers that I found at a grocery store in Chinatown, as well as pickled sakura (cherry) blossoms that I ordered online. Once the season turns, I’m excited to try using fresh pansies and other edible flowers to decorate my treats!  I have just enough room on my little apartment balcony to set up a few flats of flower seeds.

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These Linzer Hearts are filled with rose petal preserves that I purchased online from the cafe Greecologies in NYC.  I discovered them during a New York trip last autumn.  I was smitten… it’s perfect for livening up plain Greek yogurt!  I also found that it was the perfect addition to these Linzer Heart cookies.

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Many people find that floral flavors remind them too much of perfume, but the delicate rose taste is blended with just enough sugar to achieve a happy balance.

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Feel free to substitute the rose preserves in this recipe with any other jam flavor!  You could create a whole ombre series of pink hearts with strawberry, cherry, raspberry, and rose preserves.  Bring on the color!

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Ingredients:

16 tablespoons (2 sticks) room temperature unsalted butter, 2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar, 1 egg yolk,1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, rose petal preserves, confectioner’s sugar for dusting (optional)

Make sure you have heart-shaped cookie cutters of various sizes

Directions:

  1. Whip the butter and the confectioner’s sugar together until smooth.  Incorporate the egg yolk and the vanilla.  Next, add salt.  Add the flour gradually.
  2. Roll out the dough and cut with heart-shaped cookie cutters.  You will be making two shapes: full hearts, and window hearts.  Use a smaller heart cookie cutter to create a hollow in a larger heart.  Transfer carefully to your baking sheet (the window hearts are especially tricky to move).
  3. Bake at 325 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  Thicker cookies will take longer!  The thinner the cookie, the more the jam flavor will be emphasized.
  4. Assemble the cookies after they have cooled.  Spread jam on the full hearts and press the window heart cookie on top.  If desired, dust the border with confectioner’s sugar.  I chose to leave my borders bare so that the sugar didn’t distract from the delicate rose flavor.

Panicking Over Pithivier

Of all the recipes we’ve tackled so far in school, the pithivier (pronounced pi-tee-vee-ay) has to have induced the most panic in the hearts of me and my classmates.  Baking a pithivier was part of our recent exam requirements.  The entire baking process for this puff pastry pie spanned three days.  There are so many small details that could ruin the pithivier… the temperature during the shaping has to be very cold, and the folding process has to be exact or the pastry won’t rise in the oven.  I think that the French Pastry School’s three-day exam stressed me out much more than any of the tests that I took at the University of Chicago.  Unlike the exams at my undergraduate university, however, the grueling slog toward the finish line literally made the end product that much sweeter.

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Pithiviers are essentially two disks of puff pastry, with almond cream or sometimes other fillings sandwiched in between.

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The ingredients involved in making pithivier sound simple enough, but the process of locking cold butter into the puff pastry dough was more difficult than it originally sounded.  The “lamination” process involves enclosing a block of butter into a dough “envelope,” and then folding the dough over and over again without allowing any of the butter to ooze out.  If the butter finds a way to escape, it is likely that your finished product will not rise in the oven.

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Pithivier are also sometimes called Galettes des rois, or “King Cakes,” in France.  I would have to agree that this is a dessert fit for royalty!

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I couldn’t help but strike a Lion King pose with my pithivier after learning that!

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It is a french tradition to bake a bean or another trinket into the pithivier.  Whoever ends up with that particular slice gets to be king for the day.  Apparently bakeries in France often give out paper crowns with their pithivier sales.

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While I didn’t bake any hidden surprise into my pithivier, getting through the recipe during my exam was prize enough!

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In the future, I want to experiment with the surface design of my pithivier!  There are so many out there.  I’m looking forward to taking my time under circumstances that are not as stressful!

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