When I first met my husband, we had one of those whirlwind passionate young romances that needed little fuel for the fire. Romance was as easy as a package of tealight candles and a box of pink wine. For our first Valentines Day, though, we made plans to meet early to share breakfast and while he faithfully showed up bearing flowers, I missed the alarm clock, overslept and to the chagrin of the waitress showed up moments after he had sadly left the restaurant. It was an inauspicious way to begin our first Valentine’s Day together and the reason I was able to quickly forgive him years later when he gave me a watering can for a Valentine’s gift. Romance, we learn as we grow older, is less about the gifts and grand gestures and more about the occasional ardent kiss shared after celebrating that all the laundry is clean AND put away. It’s clean sheets night and you know what that means…
These days instead of staring deeply into each other’s eyes we spend most of our time staring deeply into our laps looking at our laptops. But Valentine’s Day is not a holiday that we let slip by unobserved. For us, it’s become the holiday of the thoughtful gesture. Last year, all my poor tulip bulbs sat in the garage until Valentine’s Day when they magically planted themselves, their red cups dancing happily in the Spring sunshine two months later. My gesture, bumping up all his Netflix choices to the top of the queue and staying up late enough to watch a few, was so favorably received that it has spurred hopes that I might next learn to love pro football and happily guzzle beer while watching the playoffs. Romance is, after all, all about keeping hope alive.
I do like to make little treats for all of us around the heart shaped holiday and one of my favorites is a tender little almond flavored cookie filled with raspberry jam. This cookie, when the dough is well chilled, is perfect for cutting out and I use this same recipe frosted with royal icing to make hearts and cupids for the boys to enjoy too.
Almond Sandwich Cookies with Raspberry Jam
½ cup almond paste
4 egg yolks
4 sticks butter, softened
1 ¾ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
4 cups all purpose flour
½ cup seedless raspberry jam
½ cup powdered sugar
In large mixing bowl, beat almond paste (which will be very stiff at first) with egg yolks until incorporated. Add the butter, sugar and salt and beat until fluffy –about 3 minutes. Add flour 1 cup at a time and mix well. Dough will be fairly sticky at this point so turn out onto plastic wrap, cover with wrap and shape into a ball. Refrigerate for two hours or longer.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Using a liberal amount of flour on pastry board, cut dough into thirds and place 2/3rds back into fridge. With rolling pin dusted with flour, begin to roll dough to ¼ inch thickness making sure as dough comes to room temperature that the board is well floured beneath the dough. Place on silicone or parchment-lined cookie sheets and bake for 8 minutes or until edges just begin to turn golden. Cool on pans for 2-3 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool. While cookies are cooling, gently heat jam until it begins to melt and remove from heat. Spread each cookie bottom with jam and place second cookie on top for sandwich. Dust liberally with powdered sugar. Serve to your sweetie.