I am flipping idly through my mom’s notebook of cookie recipes and I am having a jolly good time. My mom’s notebook is like a trip down the memory lane, pages and pages in neat handwriting, hundreds of notes and clippings stashed inside. One can always figure out the trusted recipes, pages worn out, “illustrated” with splatters of butter and sugar syrup, and an occasional chocolate fingerprint. But the best part are the names. They are like a cherry on top of each recipe. The Divine Cake, Congo Bars, Greta Garbo’s Kisses, Cat’s Tongues...
And then, there are my favorites, the Sweetheart’s Eye cookies. Sweetheart's Eyes are sort of like linzers, but without nuts, and with a gigantic “eye” in the middle, therefore the name.
At first, the Serbian name, Dikino Oko, is almost impossible to translate to English. Oko means eye. But word dika is a tough one. It is a forgotten word from the Serbian folklore, used to describe a male sweetheart who also possesses certain roguish qualities and makes his lady very proud. After an hour or two of looking at the dictionaries and searching the Internet, I fail to find English equivalent, and finally, and quite unhappily, settle for sweetheart. (If you do find a better word, please drop me a note, I would very much like to know.)
The Sweetheart's Eye Cookies
for the cookies
* 110g butter (4oz)
* 70g confectioners sugar (2 1/2 oz)
* 2 egg medium yolks
* 170g all purpose flour (6oz)
* firm raspberry jam (or if you happen to have cornelian cherry jam)
* a couple of drops of your very best vanilla extract
* two round cookie cutters, one larger, 1 ½ inch in diameter, and one smaller, about ¾ inch in diameter (my smaller cutter is 7/8 inch). You can also use the special cutters for the linzer cookies, but the “eye” will be much smaller.
* two baking sheets
1. In a mixer fitted with paddle, beat the butter and powder sugar. Beat in the egg yolks and add the vanilla extract (you better be careful here, the number of drops will depend on the type of the extract, so use your judgment. I like to use Nielsen-Massey, and add about 1/2 teaspoon of it).
2. When the eggs are fully incorporated, add the flour and mix until the dough is perfectly smooth.
3. Press the dough into a disk and refrigerate for about two hours, until firm.
4. Preheat the oven to 320°F convection bake (or about 340°F regular bake), and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
5. Place the dough on the work surface dusted with flour and roll it out to a 1/4 inch thick round.
6. You will be stamping out the dough using two cookie cutters. Using a 1 1/2-inch round cookie cutter, first stamp out all the cookies.
7. Count your cookies, and then using the smaller cutter, stamp out the center in half of the cookies. (Repeat with the leftover dough.)
8. Arrange the cookies without the hole in the middle, the bases, one inch apart on one baking sheet.
9. Arrange the cookies with the hole in the middle, the tops, one inch apart on the other baking sheet. (You need to bake them separately, since the tops will get baked faster.)
10. Bake the tops for about 10 minutes, until they are just about to turn golden. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and gently transfer the cookies to a wire rack or flat surface to cool.
11. Bake the base cookies for about 12 minutes, until they are just about to turn golden. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and gently transfer the cookies to a wire rack or flat surface to cool.
12. Once the cookies have cooled completely, take the base cookie round at a time, spread the jam on it and cover it with the top cookie round.
13. Leave the cookies in an airtight container for one day, and then serve.
Makes 24 cookies
p.s. If you have ever baked a cookie in your life, this recipe will seem like a piece of cake. However, this particular dough is somewhat tricky to work with -- it’s a bit on the soft side -- so be careful and patient how you stamp your cookies. And do resist the temptation to add more flour to make it more workable, because this softish dough will result in the softest cookies imaginable. To help yourself, keep the work surface dusted with flour, and keep a small bowl of flour next to you. Every time you are about to stamp a cookie, dip the cutter into the flour and go.