The cookies this week came all wrapped up in a little history lesson, not to mention a bit of pop culture. I had a hard time trying to decide what to make so I chose to do two - one a simple, peanut butter/chocolate concoction and the other a more labor intensive raspberry linzer cookie. I hadn't made either before so I depended on the reviews, comments and suggestions of other bakers and hoped that they were not wrong. I've been wanting to do a real linzer cookie for awhile and figured with Valentines Day approaching it would be fitting visually. As I was researching recipes and then sat down to write about it, well I got to thinking: why the hell is it called a 'linzer' cookie anyway?
My definition of "Linzer" was a sandwich cookie with jam in the middle and a cutout or window on the top layer. Turns out I was pretty much right. For those who are as curious as I was and are just dying to know (ok, I know no one really cares, but humor me for a minute, will ya?) it turns out the the Linzer Cookie is actually a variation of the Linzer Torte. Which, at nearly 360 years old, is considered the oldest known cake recipe in the world. It originated in the town of Linz, Austria and according to the Linzer Torte history lesson provided on the 'Joy of Baking' website it "is very distinctive looking with its beautiful golden brown crust, filled with ruby red preserves, with seeds intact, peeking through the pretty lattice design." And from all that I've brilliantly deduced that it's the 'cut out' design that makes a cookie a 'linzer' otherwise, it's just a sandwich. Phew, glad that's out of the way!
So I found a great, light recipe and decided to change the rectangles to circles and the cutouts to hearts in honor of Valentines Day - I know what you're thinking 'how brilliantly daring!' .. yeah, I know, I thought so too. So there you have it, and I must admit the final result was definitely visually appealling - I think you'd want to try one even if you didn't like Raspberry jam. The cookies are light and crisp with just a hint of cinnamon and the contrast with the jam just makes it, well, 'pretty.' Honestly the only other way to improve on these cookies would have been to use Kim's homemade strawberry jam, but blame me for forgetting to steal a few jars!
The other cookie this week doesn't have four hundred years of history behind it. Basically you make a cookie and chock it full of peanut butter and chocolate chips and honey roasted peanuts and a combination of the three - the most delicious thing on earth: Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Seriously, how can that be bad?! Oh, and I know how they were invented too - there were these two guys walking down the street towards each other, one guy was eating a jar of peanut butter (sounds weird, but it's true - and it's not like I haven't done that before myself!) and the other was eating a Hershey's Chocolate Bar. Understandably, they weren't paying attention to where they were going and ran into each other. An argument ensued "Hey! YOU got chocolate in my peanut butter!" "And YOU got peanut butter on my chocolate!" A delicious accident and the peanut butter cup was born!
I know, I watched WAY too much TV as a kid ....
(recipes are in the links on the right side of the page)
Here goes, a very blatant rip off of the Julie/Julia project - but without the daily study and committment and hopefully far less butter and cream!
For the 52 weeks of 2010 I'm going to bake a batch (or two) of cookies each week and provide them to various local charities and residential non-profits. It's a bit self serving - I get to do what I love - baking - and then get to avoid what I love a bit too much - eating! It's a near ideal scenario for me. Hopefully along the way I'll get to meet some great people, test out some new recipes and broaden my baking and presentation techniques. I'll continue to tweak recipes to improve the nutritional value and then I'll give them away, to who, exactly, I'm not so sure just yet but I'm working on it.
Life gets busy, but to spend an hour or two week to throw together a batch of homemade cookies to give to folks that might be going through a hard time seems like a pretty small contribution to society but maybe, just maybe, it'll change the world, one batch at a time ... to be continued ...