This blog post is dedicated to fiercely protecting the things in life that make you feel fulfilled and light. Like these Strawberry Lemongrass Linzer Cookies!
Do what you love.
I think this is a statement that both motivates and plagues millennials. We’re prompted to find a job we’re passionate about, because we’ll be plugging every waking hour into it. There is little to no “clocking off.” Nothing is ever as finished or as polished as it could be if you just spent more time with it. Working in digital media, work duties extend to the weekend and after-hours at home.
I had this on my mind recently, as I was tasked with putting together a staff bio for myself at the agency where I work. Before even beginning the process, I had the sinking feeling that everything that makes me “me” has been fading away.
It’s difficult to balance a relationship and friendships on my current schedule, let alone pursue the silly and fun extra things that have contributed to forming the unique individual who was drawn to the energy of New York almost three years ago.
I’ve found that it’s important to understand the distinction that doing what I love as a career won’t necessarily make me feel fulfilled, even if it is a key part of the equation. The fun side projects and shenanigans are just as important for well-rounded contentment.
My big New Year gift to myself will be truly carving out time for one or two things that are just for me… like updating this blog, which I haven’t done since October!
These Linzer Cookies are laden with sweet Brins Strawberry Lemongrass Jam and have a crumbly-yet-chewy consistency that only gets better as the cookies age. I adapted this recipe from a King Arthur Flour recipe that includes both AP flour and almond flour.
These little cookies pack a fruity punch. I suggest adding orange zest to the dough for an even more flavorful cookie.
Scroll down for the recipe!
Strawberry Lemongrass Linzer Cookies
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup AP flour
- 3/4 cup almond flour
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 cup Brins Strawberry Lemongrass jam
- In a stand mixer, beat the butter, sugar, and cinnamon until light and fluffy.
- Incorporate egg yolk and vanilla, and beat until combined
- Whisk together flour, almond flour, and salt. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture into the whipped butter mixture.
- Form dough into a disk and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Chill for 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Roll out dough until about 1/4″ thick. Cut into circle shapes. Using a smaller flower-shaped cookie cutter, cut flower windows in half of the circles.
- Bake for 10 minutes, or until the edges are slightly brown.
- Let cool. Once cool, dollop some jam onto the cookies and sandwich with the flower halves. They taste great immediately, but taste even better if you let them sit for a few hours. Give the jam some time to soak into the cookie!
I don’t recall hearing the sing-song jangle of ice cream trucks during my time living in Japan, but I do remember a yakiimo cart that made its rounds near Yoshikawa station. Yakiimo are warm, whole roasted satsumaimo, Japan’s sweet potato with red skin and a white interior. The cart owner would always be bellowing a steady song dedicated to the celebrated yakiimo.
To me, roasted satsumaimo are mouthwateringly good without any alteration; butter and sugar aren’t necessary. When you do add those two ingredients into the equation, you’ll float away on a rich flavor cloud!
One popular treat in Japan are satsumaimo cakes, reformed into a small potato shape after mixing mashed satsumaimo with sugar, evaporated milk, butter, and a few other key ingredients. There are even some regional Kitkats that are flavored after Japan’s ubiquitous sweet potato varieties.
This luxuriant layer cake is dedicated to the lovely, sweet tuber that has grown close to my heart. Three layers of satsumaimo cake are topped with daigaku imo, a caramelized, candied version of the wonderful root. The cake is slathered with kuromitsu (black sugar) cream cheese icing, and drizzled with kuromitsu syrup.
Taking a bite out of this cake reminds me of helping one of my host grandmothers tend to her satsumaimo crop in the garden. There are so many moments in Japan that I hope to always carry with me, and rooting around in the dirt with someone I couldn’t communicate with well over the common goal of nurturing latent sweetness is definitely one that takes the cake.
Scroll down for the recipe!
Satsumaimo Layer Cake
For the Cake
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 16 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups mashed cooked satsumaimo sweet potatoes, cooled (about 4-5 sweet potatoes)
- 1 cup buttermilk
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 6-inch round cake pans with canola oil. Line bottoms with baking parchment and spray the top of those too.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
- In the bowl of a mixer, beat together butter and sugar on medium-high for 5 minutes until creamy. Don’t forget to scrape down the sides of the bowl, so all is well incorporated. Add in eggs one at a time. Beat on medium-high for 1-2 minutes until light and fluffy, scraping down bowl as needed. Add vanilla and sweet potatoes and beat until smooth, scraping down bowl as needed (scraping down the bowl is important stuff, y’all).
- Add the dry ingredients into the butter mixture, alternating with buttermilk. Beat on low speed until just incorporated.
- Divide batter evenly between pans. Bake at 350-degrees F for 45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before removing the cake and placing on a cooling rack. Torte each cake in half when the cakes are completely cool.
For the Frosting
- 2 tablespoons kuromitsu syrup
- 1 pinch cinnamon
- 1 pinch salt
- 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 8 oz cream cheese
- Beat butter with the cream cheese on high, until light and fluffy.
- Gradually incorporate the powdered sugar
- Add the kuromitsu, salt, an cinnamon. Beat until well incorporated
For the Daigaku Imo
- 2 satsumaimo, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 1/2 tablespoon black sesame seeds
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil (or another neutral-flavored oil)
- 5 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon rice vinegar
- Wash the skin of the potato carefully. You will not peel it.
- Cut the potato diagonally in the rangiri style – by rotating the potato a quarter between cuts. Soak the pieces in water for 15 minutes to remove starch. Change the water half way through.
- Wrap the lid of your frying pan with a kitchen towel and tie on the top near the handle. By doing this, you prevent condensation from the lid dripping down onto the potatoes.
- Before turning your burner on, combine soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, and oil in your frying pan. Stir well.
- Dry the potatoes with a towel before placing in your pan.
- Cover with your prepared lid and turn the stove on to medium heat. Every two minutes, open the lid and flip the potatoes so that all sides are cooked.
- Cook in this style for approximately 10 minutes.
- Take off the heat and sprinkle with black sesame seeds, to taste.