Thursday, November 10, 2011

Strawberry Jam Hearts

I have a lot of respect for piano players. I used to play, but I got bored or something, and stuck with horn instead. Anyway, one of my good friends, a baker AND a pianist, facebooked me one day and said she was cleaning out the cookie cutters, and they needed a new home. I have a plethora of cookie cutters, but I could always use more! So the next day, a lovely little scalloped heart cookie cutter showed up to the music department!

Fast forward a few months to a couple weeks before juries that semester (aka music major finals.) I get an email from my accompanist's husband; my accompanist broke her hand and can't play. Panic! Once I came back to my senses, I emailed my cookie cutter friend. I begged and pleaded, and promised baked goods in exchange for just one last-minute jury, on one slow, easy, little bitty piece. Lucky for me, she's awesome.
So, "easy" might have not been the best word for this piece. I mean, the horn part was easy. The piano part was easy. We got together for our first rehearsal, and we were lost. There were triplets on top of sixteenth note weird-ness, tempo chaos, entrances out of nowhere, and everything else a musician dreads. There was one part in my music where I had to write "JUST GO!" because it made no sense with the accompaniment, I had to just close my eyes and dive in.

 Carl Nielsen's Canto Serioso. I freakin love this piece. But not as much as I love his woodwind quintet, go look it up!

We rehearsed the darn piece twice as much as I thought we'd need to, but it was worth it. We sounded awesome. Like, really really awesome. So, true to my promise, I baked her cookies. I figured it was only appropriate to break in the adorable cookie cutter she gave me! The first thing I thought of when I saw it was these cookies; cute, old-fashioned, and full of jammy goodness. I whipped up a batch the day before the big show, and man were they good! I didn't have a smaller heart for the inside, so I had to make due with a little circle. My one regret was that these guys are BIG. Like, half a meal big.
Fast forward to recital week, I figured it was only appropriate to bake accompanist cookies again. If you haven't noticed, it's kinda what I do. I bake. So I tossed together the same cookies for her, just as tasty and cute as before!

Erica Sipes, the woman with the magic fingers!
As soon as the show was over (trust me, everyone says that's the best feeling in the world, having your recital over, and they're right!) I went back to the greenroom to breathe a sigh of relief. But just as I was about to turn to my accompanist to tell her I had something for her in my locker, she slipped back out onto the stage. I figured she'd come back, I'll grab her later.

I waited for her in the reception, but she never showed up. There was a rumor that she was recording somthing downstairs, but when I went to try and grab her, the door was locked, and I couldn't hear any piano-ing from within. So there I was. Standing in Squires with a plate of cookies.

I ate them.

I felt a little bad about it. But I tried! I really did! I didn't want to leave them in her box because then they'd be weird by Monday morning, plus the mailroom was probably locked on a Saturday afternoon. I didn't have her number, so I couldn't call her to see if she was in the building. I mean, at least I shared them with everyone else?

Jam Hearts
Adapted from Food Republik

2 cups flour
1 cup butter at room temperature
3/4 cup  sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract (I just doubled the vanilla instead)
6 tbsp jelly

Combine butter and sugar and beat until smooth.  Add vanilla and almond extracts and stir till well blended. Add flour and mix until dough comes together.
Divide dough in half and gather each half into a ball.  Flatten into disks, wrap in plastic, and place in fridge for about 40 minutes.
Take out one ball of dough at a time.  On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out to a little less than 1/4 inch thick (I found this much easier between two sheets of plastic).  Loosen dough from surface using a spatula.  Cut hearts out of dough.  In half of the hearts, cut out a smaller heart-shaped hole.  Place on parchment lined cookie sheets.
Bake one sheet at a time at 325 until edges are light brown, about 12-15 minutes.  After 5 minutes, transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
Spread about a teaspoon of jam on the hole-less cookies. Place the cutout cookies on top of the jam to make jam cookie sandwiches.

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