Raspberry Linzer Cookies

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In my last post, I talked about some of my favorite Christmas movies, but today I realized that I totally left out one of the absolute best. I’m talking about Love Actually, of course. Duh, Jess! (smacks forehead).

When it comes to love, I’m probably the most cynical, unromantic person you could ever meet. Still, I just love this movie. It made me smile. It made me want to cry. It made me love love (if that makes any sense). For those that don’t know, Love Actually is a romantic comedy that takes place in Britain just before Christmas and revolves around  the love lives of several different couples. Some crass humor and potty mouthing makes it not a movie you’d probably want to show the kiddies, but if you’re at the proper age, the movie overall is really good. The stellar cast alone makes it worth seeing: Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Rowan Atkinson, Andrew Lincoln, Keira Knightley, Bill Nighy, Martine McCutcheon, Liam Neeson, Laura Linney, Chiwetel Ejiofor- c’mon, how many times are you gonna get THAT much talent together in one single movie?

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There’s a Buzzfeed quiz going on right now where you can see which Love Actually couple you match up with- that gave me an idea to do a short little blurb post about which of the couples/storylines of the movie are my favorite. If you haven’t seen the movie then this post may not make a lot of sense, but bear with me. There may be spoilers, but maybe they’ll just make you want to see it for yourself.

I think my favorite couple of the whole movie is David (Hugh Grant) and Natalie (Martine McCutcheon). First, although there was an attraction between them from the moment that they first met, nothing about it felt rushed or unrealistic. It was gradual, natural and soso sweet. You can tell from their chemistry that they’re gonna be a couple who can always stay laughing- which is important. Between her exuberant smile (seriously, her face glows when she grins) and accidental slips of the tongue, and his wry sense of humor, they make for a perfectly adorable couple. Plus,  they had the best ‘first kiss’ of the movie- even if it was a TAD bit embarrassing lol

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Honestly, Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurelia (Lucia Monez)’s relationship is a VERY close second to David and Natalie’s for me. Which is weird, considering my cynical view of romance and love. Two people who don’t even speak the same language fall in love over the course of a few weeks and after taking secretly taking Rosetta Stone courses in each other’s languages, decide to get married. Is this something I think is a good idea in real life? No, probably not. In real life, I’d probably give Jamie and Aurelia one year, tops before they call it quits.But this isn’t real life- it’s a movie. They have real, tangible chemistry. Maybe it IS possible to fall in love with someone you can’t even talk to in your own language-I doubt it, but it wouldn’t be the first time I would be wrong about something. And it’s Christmas. So, I’m just gonna say that it was a wonderful, romantic idea and that Jamie and Aurelia will be together forever.

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My third ranked Love Actually couple may be a bit of surprise; it’s Harry (Alan Rickman) and Karen (Emma Thompson). For those that have seen the movie, I know you may be scratching your heads, thinking, “Huh? But Jess, remember how their storyline ends?” I know. Just lemme explain. Harry and Karen were the only couple in the movie that had been together in a stable, long-lasting relationship at the start of the plot. Their ‘love actually’ isn’t a picture of what happens when love comes along, but more of a look at what happens when love is tested, when it begins to fade, or even when it’s completely betrayed. It’s not pretty. It hurts. Badly. I’m not sure if I’ll ever forgive Harry/Alan for that scene in the bedroom where Emma/Karen is crying by herself. It made my eyes water- and making me cry about anything is nigh to impossible. Their story is the most heart-wrenching part of the Love Actually…but it’s also the most realistic.

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Linzer sandwich cookies are a permanent piece of my childhood at Christmas. We made them every year-or rather, my mom did. I just stood next to her at the counter top, helped spread the jam on the bottom of the cookie and smushed them together. Then I ate them. Now, I get to do all of the above. The cookies themselves have a wonderful flavor from the toasted almonds.The texture is tender, but with a slight crumbly bite- almost like a teatime biscuit. The subtle nutty flavor of the cookie is complimented wonderfully by the sweetness of the jam sandwiched inside. It was a favorite for me back in the day, and it hasn’t lost any points since then, let me tell you.

It’s Day 8 of the 12 Days of Christmas series we’ve been doing on the blog, but more importantly it’s also Fiesta Friday #47, hosted by Angie@TheNoviceGardener and co-hosted by Indu @Indu’s International Kitchen and Jhuls @The Not So Creative Cook. So for those of you at the party, feel free to have some of these cookies, but also feel free to check out the list below of all the recipes from the Christmas series I’ve been putting up over the past week below 🙂

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Day 1: Cranberry-Clementine Toaster Tarts

Day 2: Honey Roasted Peanut Popcorn Balls

Day 3: Mexican Chocolate Popcorn Balls

Day 4: Giant Molasses Cookies

Day 5: Crustless Cranberry Pie

Day 6: St. Lucia Buns

Day 7: Brown Sugar Cookies

Day 8: Raspberry Linzer Cookies

Raspberry Linzer Cookies


Recipe Courtesy of Gina Marie Miraglia Eriquez via RealSimple.com 

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Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting work surface
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp.
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp. confectioners sugar
  • 1 12 -ounce jar raspberry jam

 Directions

1. Heat oven to 350° F. Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and toast, tossing occasionally, until fragrant, 6 to 8 minutes; let cool.

2. In a food processor, process the almonds and ¼ cup of the brown sugar until the almonds are finely ground.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.

4. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and the remaining ¼ cup brown sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and gradually add the almond mixture, then the flour mixture, mixing until just combined (do not overmix).

5. Divide the dough in half, shape into two disks, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours or preferably overnight.

6. Heat oven to 350° F. On a lightly-floured surface, roll out each piece of dough to a ⅛-inch thickness. Using a 2- to 2 ½-inch round cookie cutter, cut the dough into rounds and place on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them 1 inch apart. Using a ¾- to 1-inch round cookie cutter, cut out the centers from half of the cookies. Reroll and cut the scraps as necessary.

7. Bake, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until the edges are golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool slightly on the baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

8. Sprinkle the confectioners’ sugar on the cookies with the holes. Spread 1 teaspoon jam on the remaining cookies and top with the sugared cookies. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Triple Berry Slab Pie

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When was the last time that you did something that made you really, really, REALLY proud of yourself?

I remember the first time I tied my own shoes when I was a little girl; for a six year old, it was literally one of those moments when it seems like the clouds part and a ray of sunshine shines just on you. I was walking on air from that for days.

I played the lead in an 8th grade musical (“Once on This Island”, in case there are any theater nerds out there like me) and when the sound system suddenly and unexpectedly cut out, I sang my solo song completely accappella. And I nailed it. Got an ovation and everything. That made me feel pretty good.

I made Dean’s List for nearly every semester of my undergrad college years…all while holding down 2-3 jobs (I have no idea how I did this now that it’s over, by the way).

My mom has a specific, rare smile that when she gives me, makes me feel like I can do absolutely anything in the world.

There’s nothing wrong with having those moments of pride; most people spend too much time obsessed with the things that they haven’t done, or are doing wrong. I think we should think more about the things that we’re actually doing right. So why don’t we try to think of the last moment of extreme pride or satisfaction that we had because of something we did. Think of it, then give yourself a pat on the back. Do your own little personal victory dance. Go ahead- you deserve it.

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These days, most of my moments of pride or self-congratulations come from me doing something new and intimidating in the kitchen, so this exercise is pretty easy for me to do. I was proud the first time I cooked something that came out of a box. I was proud when I first made a yeast bread. I was proud when I first made my grandma’s caramel cake (just WAIT until I share that one with you all, you will die, go to Heaven, then come back to life just to eat it again. No, I’m serious.). Doing new things in the kitchen is such an easy stroke to my ego- there’s no shame in my game about that, either. It’s most likely the reason that I try to do it often.

This is one of those things that I’ve done that just made me feel friggin fantastic about myself, to the point where I felt like I had to share it with you. I’m still giving myself victory dances, high fives, pats on the back and major props for pulling this recipe off, guys. Not just because of how it tastes (which is enough on its own, believe me), it’s also because this is the very first time that I made my own from scratch pie-crust. A very big pie crust at that. As in a 15 x 10 inch double layer pie crust.

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Pie crust may seem like it’s not that big of a deal to pull off from scratch, but anyone who’s made one before will tell you that it’s actually more complicated than it sounds. Like biscuits, pie dough has to be handled with finesse and care, or there’s a huge potential to ruin it. Which is probably why I’ve avoided it so stubbornly for such a long time. Then I saw this article on Buzzfeed featuring something called ‘slab pie’ that basically changed everything for me.

I had never heard of baking a pie into a sheet pan before, but it seemed (and looked) like a fantastic idea. I mean, just say it out loud will you: Slaaaaaab… Piiiiiie. Doesn’t the sound of it just make you want a huge, thick slab of it all to yourself (pun intended)?

I certainly felt that way. Slab Pie was calling my name. I had to answer. The problem was, I would need a whole LOT of pie crust to pull it off- and I didn’t really feel like buying a whole bunch of store-bought pre-made pie crusts, then trying to roll them all together to make two 15 x 10 inch layers for both top and bottom of the pie. Not when I knew it would be cheaper and more efficient to just try to make them on my own.

I know that by now, you probably want some of this pie. You’re probably thinking about how much of the ingredients you already have at home. If you’ve never made pie crust before, you’re probably wondering if it’s really that difficult to pull off, or that easy to mess up. It’s okay guys. I’ve been in your shoes before. Let me walk you through this.

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If there’s anything I’ve learned from this experience, it’s that the single most important thing you can do in making  pie crust from scratch is this: freeze your butter.

Let me repeat: freeze… your…butter. Throw it in the freezer overnight. Leave it there until the very moment you’re ready to handle it. Don’t take it out an hour before you want to make the crust to ‘thaw’ or soften. It’s not necessary. All you’ll need to do with it, is use a box grater, then run the ice cold sticks of butter over the large grating grill so that it comes out the other side in solid, curly strands. These strands are going to become your best friends. Why? Because they’re what’s going to keep your pie crust nice and flakey to the point where it will melt in your mouth after it’s done baking, that’s why.. After the butter is grated, the pie crust is pretty simple to put together. If you’re not using a food processor, I would also recommend using a rubber spatula to work the dough together, as hands conduct unnecessary heat into the dough.

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Guys, this pie came out so good. Really, it did. The making of the pie crust was a little extra labor, but me and my entire family all agree: it was well worth the result. And even though the recipe yields a lot, I still wouldn’t be surprised if you still ran out of it. This is one of those foods that you don’t want to share. You just want to hog it all to yourself to make sure you get as much as possible. Could be why I’ve already made this twice: a triple berry version, as well as an all raspberry version. Both were delicious. Both are all long gone. Guess it’s gonna be time for me to make another one pretty soon, huh? I’m thinking caramel apple. Or maybe strawberry rhubarb. Or how about sour cherry?

I think my favorite part of slab pie is that the recipe makes so much- it’s perfect for a large crows for a barbecue, dinner party, or gathering. So, I’ve decided to bring this over to Fiesta Friday- hope you guys enjoy it. (I told you last week you’d need yoga pants, didn’t I? ;-))

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Triple Berry Slab Pie

Recipe Adapted from Martha Stewart

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

For the Crust:

  • 5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups ice water

For the Filling

  • 6 cups of fresh or frozen berries (I used 2 cups each of blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries)
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest, plus 3 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions

1. Make crust: In a food processor, pulse flour, salt, and sugar until combined. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining.

2. With machine running, add 1 cup ice water. Pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed (if necessary, add up to 1/2 cup water, 1 tablespoon at a time). Do not overmix. Divide dough into 2 disks; wrap each tightly in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour (or up to overnight) .

3. Preheat oven to 400°. Make filling: In a large bowl, toss together blueberries, cornstarch, sugar, and lemon zest and juice.

4. On a floured work surface, roll out 1 disk to a 12-by-16-inch rectangle. Place in a 10-by-14-by-1-inch rimmed jelly-roll pan. Pour in berry filling, then lightly brush edges of crust with water.

5. On floured surface, roll out second disk to an 11-by-15-inch rectangle and lay over berry filling; press along moistened edges to seal. Fold overhang under, tucking it into pan, and crimp edges. With a paring knife, cut slits on top to vent

6. Place pie in oven, then reduce heat to 375 degrees. Bake until crust is golden and juices are bubbling, 50 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack 1 hour. Serve warm or at room temperature

 

 

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