Blood Orange Linzer Cookies
Metronomical tapping quietly drums away on the weathered, wet deck outside my window. I focus my eyes ahead of me trying hard to ignore the wall to wall windows surrounding me – I chose my beautifully luminous breakfast room as an office so I’d have no problem spotting incessant distractions from duties and tasks. My idiosyncratic, often compulsively-obsessed brain counts each tap outside; my eyes and a majority of my attention focuses on dawning one small line after another smaller line in pursuit of a graphic masterpiece my client will surely shoot down, a tedious task sitting high up on my to-do list. The bouncing drops quickly create a pace around which my work is moulded; I find myself in a race with each drop, trying to to beat gravity in its unrelenting pull.
The persistent beat of the raindrops fall with a calando to an irregular, difficult to predict pace. My curious eyes move away from my computer for just a brief moment in search of the source of the tapping. Expecting to find heavy, depressing, dark clouds – a cold, gloomy sight filling the morning thus far – I find layers of greys are replaced by bright blues. A wash of fog and steady rain are now succeeded by shiny bubbles of water resting delicately on blades of grass and barely-broad sprouting leafs. A lone trickle of rain drops fall from a crevice created by the merging pitches of my roof; the source of the beat to which my work has been built now found.
I shut my computer – crap, did I save? oh well – and slip a pair of nearby shoes on. Expecting to shiver in the late winter cold, I am instead welcomed with the warm breeze of an early spring day. I take a few more steps outside and a flood of questions whirl around inside my head. How long has my grass been this green? When did the trees start sprouting leaves? Have there always been this many birds bouncing about? Wait. When did the flowers come back? Soon I am lost in my own backyard, admiring an early spring. I frivolously pick some fluffy dandelion, orange tree blossoms and a daisy or two as I wander around in search of nothing but a few free smiles.
With the freshly pruned flowers plopped into a jar of water, I head off to a nursery – my to-do list forgotten. Back home I begin to fill long-abandoned clay pots with small, fledgling herb plants. I arrange an old, dirty gardener’s cart with my favorites, carrying a few off to other parts of the deck. I plant a few gerber daisies, a purple and hunter green peppermint plant and a hardy rosemary from the previous year. With huffs and grunts, I struggle to drag a forgotten, far-too heavy for just me to carry, mossed over bird bath up to the deck. I clap and brush my hands together to shake off loose dirt – a cloud of dust and pollen circles around me. I pause admiring my handy work before slipping inside just before the sun begins to routine trek back down the western sky.
Back in front of my open computer I ignore my work once again and stare out the large breakfast room windows. Instead of staring at a cold, wet deck with lonely patio furniture, I watch a bluejay flap about as a small female house sparrow takes a few petite sips in the freshly filled bird bath. I peer out at growing herbs, slowly overtaking a rod iron cart before my eyes dart about the collection of eclectic, scattered pots of rosemary, gerber daises, pansies and mint.
I shut my computer again and decide to search for a recipe to celebrate an early spring. I quickly decide on linzer cookies, but what flavor jam and what kind of dough? A pile of blood oranges call out – the sweet and tart flavors and soft chew of a blood orange marmalade seem like a perfect companion for a buttery cookie that crumbles at the slightest hint of a mouth biting down. To add some depth and a little nuttiness I decide to make an almond shortbread dough. Together in a sandwiched cookie, dusted with sweet powdered sugar, these blood orange linzer cookies are a perfect, bright and scrumptious treat. The sweet, tart, nutty and buttery notes coming together in wonderful harmony will have you hoarding stacks of these cookies when you leave the cookie jar.
Blood Orange Linzer Cookies
This recipe is adapted from a Bo Friberg recipe and will yield 24 to 36 linzer cookies.
Stand mixer or a bowl and spoon
- 2″ circle, and/or
- 2″ fluted circle, and/or
- assortment of flower shapes, plus
- 1/2″ circle cutter (for creating the center cutout)
Lined baking sheet (stacked on another baking sheet for even baking)
Spoon or small icing spatula
16 ounces unsalted butter, at room temp.
7 ounces sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
14 ounces bread flour
4 ounces almonds, finely ground
8 ounces Blood Orange Marmalade (recipe below)
1 ounce powdered sugar
1. Cream together the butter and sugar and mix until light and fluffy.
2. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until completely incorporated. Add the vanilla and mix in well.
3. Add the flour and ground almonds. Mix until a batter forms.
4. Split the dough into 2 equal portions and flatten each piece of dough out a bit between two pieces of parchment paper. Fold in the parchment paper so that the dough is not exposed and refrigerate the dough for an hour.
5. Preheat an oven to 325°F. Line the top of two stacked baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside.
6. On a lightly flowered surface, roll out the dough until it is about 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick.
7. Using cookie cutters of your choice, cut out the dough and line the cookies on the cookie sheet. Be sure to cut a hole out of the center of every outer cut piece of dough (this piece will be the top, so you can see the jam), and you can bake the center cut outs as well – they make a scrumptious snack on their own.
8. Bake the cookies in a preheated oven for 28 to 32 minutes or until the edges just begin to turn golden brown. Watch carefully to make sure the cookies don’t overgrown.
9. Remove from the oven and cool the cookies on a wire wrack. Let the cookies cool completely before assembling.
10. To assemble, first dust powdered sugar on the tops of all the cookies with the center cut out. Next, spread a small spoonful of jam on the bottom of a whole cookie. Carefully press a dusted cookie top onto the jam.[/print_this]
Blood Orange Marmalade - Because marmalade contains whole chunks of rind it can be very tart and even a bit bitter (depending on the citrus you use). To avoid this you can bring the rinds to a boil on their own a few times (using just enough fresh water each time to cover the rinds, discarding the water). This will remove some of the bitterness. Also be sure to chop the rind very fine as large chunks will not spread easily for a small application like cookies. Citrus, particularly lemon, contains a large amount of pectin and thus it is not necessary to add pectin to make marmalade thicken.
Blood Orange Marmalade
This recipe will yield about 8 to 12 ounces of marmalade, enough for one jar.
Heavy bottomed pot
3 medium/large blood oranges
1 meyer lemon
8 ounces sugar
1/2 cup water
1. Remove the pulp and juice from the oranges and lemon into the heavy bottom potted. Chop the rind from one of the oranges and from the lemon finely and add to the pot.
2. Add the sugar and water to the pot and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally.
3. Boil the mixture, stirring occasionally, at a full boil for about 15 minutes or until the jam reaches 220°F or is very thick – to test the thickness stick a plate in the freezer, remove it, drop a small spoonful of jam on the plate, place back in the freezer for 30 seconds, remove and check the consistency. You should be able to hold the plate sideways without the jam running down the plate.
4. Pour the jam into a clean jar and set aside. Once cool store refrigerated. This jam will keep for a week in the fridge.[/print_this]