The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, I’m told. But what do you do when your man is a chef, and difficult to impress with anything homemade by someone who is, well, not? For Valentine’s Day, I somehow knew my messy cocoa brownies were not going to cut it. I wanted something unique for My Foodie Valentine.
It had to be savory. I decided to start with the “unorthodox cookie” recipe from Seattle cookbook author Jess Thomson’s blog, Hogwash. Thomson calls these delicious Blue Cheese and Walnut Cookies a “statement shortbread,” and has served them as both an appetizer with tapenade and a dessert for those who prefer something not so sweet. They have rich flavor, an addictive, creamy texture and are fairly simple to make.
It had to be local. To satisfy the locavore, I substituted Rogue Creamery Brutal Blue cheese from Oregon for the (lovely, but California-made) Point Reyes Original in the recipe, and added a layer of Original Skillet Uncured Bacon Spread — because everything tastes better with bacon, especially this decadent jam-like concoction made famous by Seattle’s Skillet Street Food as a luxury burger condiment.
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It had to be heart-shaped. Well, it is Valentine’s Day after all. So instead of rolling the dough into logs and slicing the cookies into shortbread rounds, I rolled out the dough and used nested heart-shaped cookie cutters to make Linzer Cookies.
The result is a rich, unusual Valentine’s gift. You know he won’t already have one, and you’ll score extra points for thinking outside the (chocolate, heart-shaped) box.
Savory Blue Cheese-Walnut Linzer Cookies with Bacon Jam
Adapted from Jess Thomson’s Blue Cheese and Walnut Cookies, from her blog, Hogwash, at jessthomson.wordpress.com. Rolling technique adapted from the Watkins Vanilla Sugar Cookie recipe from “The All-American Cookie Cookbook” by Nancy Baggett.
Time: 40 minutes active time
Makes: 8 extra-large cookie sandwiches, or 20 small ones
1 cup walnuts (shelled halves)
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 ounces blue cheese (I used Rogue Creamery Brutal Blue), crumbled
½ cup sugar
2 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour
Two nested heart-shaped cookie cutters
Original Skillet Uncured Bacon Spread (7 oz. jar), available at Whole Foods in Seattle or skilletbaconjam.com
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast until browned and fragrant, 5 to 10 minutes. (Watch carefully!) Transfer the nuts to a cutting board to cool, and turn off the oven.
2. In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and cheese with the sugar on medium speed until light, about 3 minutes.
3. With the machine on low, add the flour to the mixer a little at a time, and mix until the flour is fully incorporated, scraping down the sides of the mixer with a plastic spatula when needed. (The dough will be a little crumbly.) Finely chop the walnuts and stir in half by hand.
4. Divide the dough in half. Place each portion between large sheets of wax paper. Roll out each portion about ⅛ inch thick. Stack the rolled portions (wax paper still attached) on a baking sheet. Chill for 1 hour, or until very firm.
5. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon baking sheets, and set aside.
6. Working with one portion at a time, leaving the remaining dough chilled, gently peel away, then pat one sheet of wax paper back into place. Flip the dough over, then peel off and discard the second sheet. Using a large heart-shaped cutter, cut out the cookies. Use the smaller cookie cutter to cut a smaller heart into the center of half of the cookies. Reroll any dough scraps, including the small heart cut from the center, and repeat. (If at any point the dough softens too much to handle easily, transfer the paper and cookies to a baking sheet and refrigerate until firm again.) Using a spatula, carefully transfer the cookies to the lined baking sheets, spacing about 1 inch apart. Continue cutting out the cookies until all the dough is used.
7. Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, or until the cookies are only very barely beginning to brown at the edges. (They will not look much different from when you put them in.)
8. Cool the cookies 10 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to cooling racks to cool completely. Spread Original Skillet Uncured Bacon Spread in the center of the whole, uncut heart cookies, which will serve as the bottom of the cookie sandwich. Place cookies with the cutout heart on top to form a Linzer Cookie. Sprinkle the remaining chopped walnuts on the outside heart edges for decoration.