With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I’ve been busy in the kitchen whipping up a batch of cookies to celebrate and sweeten the day. As a pasty chef living in Paris, I’ve been remaking a bit of a lesser-known French cookie, called Lunettes. Very similar to the popular Austrian Linzer cookie, the Lunettes come from the Dauphiné region of France.
As the name suggests, Lunettes mean glasses so the cookies are cut into a diamond shape with the top cookie accented by two circles that look like glasses which reveal a delicious jam center. But who wants glasses-shaped cookies on le Saint Valentin?
To adapt my recipe, I took the basis of the Lunettes and transformed them into the shape of the Linzer cookie, with its ubiquitous heart in the center. The huge difference between the two dough is that the Linzer cookie dough is a bit firmer, has more of a crunch, and is made with almond meal whereas the Lunettes dough is soft, allowing for a melt-in-your-mouth texture with lots of butter. What did you expect from a French cookie? I also added a touch of cinnamon to give it a slight twist and used a fantastic vanilla extract a friend gave me that is infused with orange.
Use my recipe below to create these delicious cookies that you can share with your partner and loved ones. Follow my tips on the dough to ensure they’ll be as perfect as can be. If you’re like me and live in a small Parisian apartment with just a couple of bowls to work with, you’ll probably be hand mixing your batch, but of course you can use an electric mixer.
Les Coeurs Sablés
200g T45 flour (all-purpose flour type will be on label)
100g powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
2 egg yolks
½ teaspoon vanilla extract (I used an orange infused vanilla)
The dough comes together in about 10 minutes. In a bowl, beat the room temperature butter, then add the flour, being careful to start at a low speed when mixing so there aren’t any flour explosions – I used a hand mixer for this part.
Stir in the rest of the dry ingredients. The dough should resemble sand. Add the egg yolks, water, and vanilla. Stir, and then using a kneading motion with clean hands, combine the dough until it comes together (hands are a chef’s best tool!) It looks like it won’t work but I promise it will mix together as the butter warms up.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, press flat and chill for about 30 minutes.
[A note on baking powder: the easiest place I found this in Paris was at G.Detou in the Les Halles neighborhood. I’m France, baking powder is called levure chimique, and is sold in little packets in the supermarket baking aisle, although is sometimes referred to as levure alsacienne. I’ve heard that baking soda is also sold in the pharmacy as bicarbonate de sodium.]
Remove dough from fridge, roll out to about a 3mm thickness and cut out shapes, making sure each one has a match. Cut a heart or other shape out of the center of one of each pair.
Bake at 160C for about 10 minutes.
Let cool and then spread jam on the half that does not have the cut-out. Sprinkle the top cookie with powdered sugar and then sandwich the two together.
You can store at room temperature about three days.
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! I hope you are spending it with a loved one in the City of Love.