Melting hearts

Buttery shortbreads and tasty jewel-like jam fillingOne of our favourite culinary contributors, Liz Bell, has baked one of my personal heart-shaped treats. Liz is a flight attendant and partners with her husband in a Virginia farm that will sell her homemade treats as well fresh farm items. We’ll have more about Liz’s new venture soon.

 
Ladies, are you ready to make some wonderful cookies for your Valentine? This Valentine’s Day, make some of the most fabulous cookies I can think of, shortbreads. One reason I love to bake these tender cookies is they melt in your mouth. They are so tender and versatile as you can add so many different things to them for the discriminating palate. They are my personal favorite
 
These cookies take a little more time as they must be refrigerated and then shaped with cookie cutters, filled with jam, and assembled by hand. The time is worth it. This is a sandwich cookie with a top and bottom. The top cookie has a cutout or window, so you can see the jam on the bottom cookie.
 
Shortbread cookies filled with raspberry jam
Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
(Tip: for a more tender cookie, you can substitute ½ cup of the flour with cornstarch)
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
(You can also substitute almond extract for vanilla)
 
Filling
¼ to ½ cup raspberry jam (I use Smucker’s seedless raspberry jam. I use a spoon to smooth it out. It spreads easier this way.)
 
Shortbreads
In a separate bowl, combine the flour with the salt with a whisk.
(Tip: I use a whisk to ensure that the ingredients are mixed well together.)
 
In a medium-sized bowl, cream the butter until it is smooth, about one minute. (I prefer to cream by hand with a fork.) Add the sugar and beat until smooth (about two minutes). Mix in the vanilla extract. Gently stir the flour mixture just until everything is incorporated.
 
Removed the dough from the bowl and put it onto a slightly-floured surface. Shape it into a disk, wrap it in plastic, and place it in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
 
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Make sure the rack is in the middle of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
 
Roll out your dough on a lightly-floured surface. The dough should be approximately ¼-inch thick. Using a 2- to 3-inch cookie cutter, start cutting out the dough. (I prefer a heart-shaped cookie cutter.) For the tops, I use a smaller heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut a heart out of the center of top cookie so you can see the jam. Place your cookies on the prepared cookie sheets and place them in the refrigerator for approximately 15 minutes. (Tip: this helps the cookies maintain their shape when baking in the oven.) Then, bake them for about 10 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly-browned around the edges. Cool on a wire rack.
 
To assemble the cookies
I match tops and bottoms together to get the best fit before I fill them with jam. Once I have matched tops and bottoms, I use about one teaspoonful of raspberry jam and spread it on the bottom cookie, but not all the way to the edge. I use enough jam that when the top and bottom are pressed together, you can see a little of the red jam at the edges of the cookie. I then take a little of the jam and place it in the center of the cut-out. Once assembled, I dust with confectioner’s (icing) sugar.
 
This makes approximately 12 sandwich cookies.
 
These are my most requested cookies and my personal favorite to bake. They are great for any occasion. Happy baking!
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