Tart, ruby red raspberries cooked into a sweet compôte and peeking tantalizingly from the heart-shaped windows of delicate almond meal shortbread sandwiches capture the romantic flavor and panache of Valentine’s Day.
For the Almond Meal Shortbread Cookies:
1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted Irish butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar, plus more for dusting the cookies
1 farm-fresh egg
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup almond meal
1½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling the dough
¼ teaspoon salt
For the Raspberry-Anise Compôte:
1½ cups fresh raspberries
½ cup granulated sugar
1½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup water plus 1½ tablespoons water, divided
1½ tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoons butter
¼ teaspoon finely crushed anise seed
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
To Prepare the Almond Meal Shortbread Cookies:
Cream together the Irish butter and powdered sugar until smooth. Blend in the egg, almond extract, and vanilla extract. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the almond meal, flour, and salt, stirring gently to distribute the ingredients. Blend the flour mixture into the creamed butter mixture well until the dough comes together. Cover the slightly sticky dough in plastic wrap. Chill for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper; set aside.
Roll out the chilled dough to ⅛-inch thickness on a generously floured surface. Using a 2-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter (or other desired shape), cut out 32 dough hearts. In the center of 16 hearts, cut out a smaller heart shape to create a window in the dough.
Place the cut-out shapes on the prepared baking tray. Bake in the preheated oven for 12 minutes. Remove the baking sheet to a cooling rack and permit the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for an additional 2 minutes. Lift the cookies to a cooling rack to continue to cool completely.
To Prepare the Raspberry-Anise Compôte:
Combine the fresh raspberries, granulated sugar, lemon juice, and ¼ cup water in a heavy-bottom pot. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Cut the heat to low, and cook for 2 minutes, constantly stirring to avoid scorching.
In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch with 1½ tablespoons water to create a smooth slurry. Slowly pour the slurry into the hot liquid while stirring to avoid formulating lumps. Allow the mixture to cook an additional minute to thicken.
Remove the pot from the stovetop. Stir in the butter, crushed anise seed, and vanilla. Cool completely.
To Assemble the Sweet Tarts:
When the cookies have completely cooled on the rack, tap powdered sugar through a fine-mesh sieve to dust all the cookies. Once the compôte has thoroughly cooled, spread 1 tablespoon of the jam on each of the 16 solid heart cookies, mounding in the center. With the sugar-laminated side up, create a shortbread tart by placing each of the remaining cookies over the top of the jam-spread cookies, exposing the mound of compôte through the small window.
Yields 16 finished cookies
Recipe Created & Stylized by R. Shannon Mock & Brontë E. Mock
Photography by Robyn J. Mock
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