Shortbread Hearts

You know who I don’t envy on Valentine’s Day? Elementary school teachers. All those sugared-up kids. Meddling class moms. Sliding cupcakes sent from home. Artistically-challenged nine-year-olds who can’t cut a paper heart to save their lives (why yes, that was me!). Kids who insist on writing in the “To” part of the Valentine, despite specific instructions to the contrary.

And so we save our most special Valentine’s treat for them — the giant, jam-filled (or nutella-filled), shortbread heart.

These take a little time compared to some of our other favorite cookies, but oh my goodness are they delicious.

Share with those you love this Valentine’s Day or any other day!

(Based on Ina Garten’s Linzer Tarts… but without almonds, apparently, they aren’t really Linzer Tarts… here’s to learning new things in 2021!)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt (more if using unsalted butter)
  • Raspberry, cherry, or strawberry preserves for filling… or Nutella, if that’s more your style (see my youngest child for these and more life hacks)

Method:

  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachmet, combine the room temperature butter and sugar, mixing until well-combined. Add the salt and vanilla, mixing well. Add the flour and beat until just combined. Then choose from the roll out methods below:
  • My favorite way*: Scoop about one cup of the the room temperature dough and place it between two sheets of parchment paper. Flatten it slightly with your hand, and then roll it out using a rolling pin. I have to use my hip to keep the paper from sliding on the counter, but an extra set of hands might also help here. Once rolled to approximately 1/2 inch, place the parchment in the freezer. It will be ready to cut out cookies in about 10 minutes, but will also last for days if you want to split this up. When you remove it from the freezer, peel up the top layer of parchment and then loosely put it back down. Flip the dough over and peel up the parchment on that side. Place to the side for rolling out the next batch.
  • The more traditional way: Divide the dough into 3 sections. Slightly flatten each and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes and up to 2 days. Roll out on a well-floured countertop, adding more flour to prevent sticking.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • After either of the roll-out methods, use a heart-shaped or other cookie cutter to cut the dough into desired shapes.
  • To make a sandwich cookie, cut out a middle shape using a smaller heart (you can also do this with round cookie cutters).
  • Bake larger hearts at 350 for 18-20 minutes; smaller ones are ready in 8-12. Watch until they are slightly brown around the edges. Because of the different baking times, we bake the small hearts and the larger ones on separate sheets.
  • Let the cookies cool completely. If making heart sandwich cookies, dust the tops with powdered sugar. Spread the bottoms with jam, Nutella, or (if you’re like me) both. Sandwich the two together and share with your loves this Valentine’s Day!
the smaller hearts are tasty, too!

Notes:

  • Why is this my favorite way? So many reasons. First, there is less mess. No floury countertops. Also, I can have cookies sooner. Also, the cookies are not as tough because they don’t pick up any extra flour. Also, did I mention less mess?
  • Yes, I’ve posted this recipe before, back in the blogspot days… apparently right before a big ice storm in February? I love looking back at the icy pictures of these sweet boys.
  • You can absolutely just make these as plain shortbread cookies, any old day of the year, and they will be amazing. I’ve also been dreaming of melting chocolate and dipping half of each cookie in that…

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