Sunday, February 9, 2014

Dutch Love Letter Cookies

With Valentine's coming up, I decided to take on a project.  Turning a tasty cookie recipe that is very basic in appearance to something more pleasing to the eye.  Granted these were not the easiest things to form and did take some practice batches, but I am happy with the end result.  If you are short on time, you can always just do these in logs or the "s" shape as the recipe instructs.

The cookies have a flaky, crunchy exterior with an almond paste filling.  The exterior is somewhat made like pastry dough, using water. Instead I used chocolate liqueur in its place.  However, there was no trace of this flavor in the cookie after baked.  Perhaps with something stronger like rum or bourbon, the flavor may remain.  I still want to experiment some more on these.  With regard to the the shaping of the dough, the filling does not ooze out when baking so cracks in the cookie dough is not a disaster.

The original recipe states to form these in large "S" shapes, brush with an egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.  As you can see, I dipped these in chocolate instead.  The recipe in its original state is below, but I encourage you experiment and add your own spin.  In making the large "S" shapes as per the recipe, it yields 16 cookies and takes about 2 1/2 hours to complete the process.

Dutch Love Letter Cookies
adapted from 100 Great Cookie Recipes/Ladies Home Journal

Ingredients/Cookie Crust
1 cup or 2 sticks cold butter, cubed
1 egg yolk
6-7 tbs ice water
3 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp grated lemon peel
8 oz can almond paste or 7 oz tube
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg

Ingredients/ Topping
1 egg white
2 tbs sugar

Sift together the flour and salt.  Then cut in butter with pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture is crumbly.  In a separate small bowl, whisk together 1 egg yolk and 2 tbs water. Drizzle mixture into the sifted ingredients and toss together with a large fork.  Add one tbs of water and toss together.  Repeat with additional tbs of water until the mixture comes together like pastry dough.

Separate dough into 4 equal sizes.  Place a square on lightly dusted wax paper and form into a 4 inch square.  Repeat with the other lumps of dough.  Peel wax paper off of squares and completely enclose in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.

During chilling time, prepare the filling by beating together all 4 ingredients listed above.  Once it is blended into a fluffy mixture, scrape out of bowl with a spatula and transfer into a plastic zip lock bag.  Seal and chill for one hour or overnight.

After the chilling time, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Lay a 20 inch piece of wax paper on a flat surface and lightly dust with flour.  Remove one pastry square from the refrigerator.  Test the dough by kneading to make sure it is can be rolled out without breaking.   Once it becomes pliable, roll into a 9 1/2 inch square about 1/8 inch thick. 

Trim the edges until you have a straight edged, 9 inch square.  Cut into 4 strips, each measuring 2 1/4 by 9 inches.  Brush each strip with water.  Take filling out of refrigerator and cut off a small section of the corner of the bag.  Then pipe 1/2 inch strip lengthwise down the center of the dough, starting 1/2 below small top of strip and ending 1/2 above bottom of strip.  Roll up pastry strips lengthwise and crimp seam and ends.  Place seam side down on baking sheet in the shape of an "S".

Brush top with egg white and sprinkle with sugar.  Continue with the forming of the 3 remaining strips for this pastry dough and sugarcoat as instructed.  Repeat the rolling, forming and topping instructions for the remaining 3 squares of pastry dough in the refrigerator.

Cookies should bake for about 20 minutes.  The finished letters should have a slightly golden hue on the edges. Let cookies cool on pans for 2 minutes then transfer to a rack to finish cooling.
                                     **LAST YEAR: Lemon Limoncello Cupcakes**