A Merry Christmas with Linzer Cookies

Happy Holidays!

Tired of cookies yet? We’re not. I’m still baking through memories from my youth. Linzer cookies remind me of visits to my family in Switzerland. My aunt would take me to Swiss bakeries with shelves full of tasty choices. Linzer was a regular choice.

I knew that sandwich-type cookies were going to be more effort than others that I’ve made, and I was right. My kitchen has limited gadgetry which makes for a really hands-on experience. I followed this recipe from the Williams-Sonoma Baking Book. The first step is toasting the almonds and then chopping them fine. I did this with a hand-powered nut chopper. I probably should have prepared this before my Insanity workout; it seemed to take a really long time to chop with wobbly muscles. Zesting an orange means carefully peeling off the outside layer and mincing the peel with a large sharp kitchen knife. When the chilled dough came out of the fridge, it felt too crumbly. I worked with it anyway, following the advice to roll the dough between sheets of waxed paper. The whole process took several hours. All in in, the cookies turned out wonderfully. Jack’s review, “The finest tea cookie I’ve ever tasted.” Today, they will go to a Christmas cookie exchange. Hopefully the recipients will enjoy them, too.

Gather some elves (preferably the kind that make cookies), put on some good music, and here’s the recipe:

Linzer Cookies (courtesy of The Wiliams-Sonoma Baking Book p. 12)

Makes about 1 dozen cookies.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almonds, toasted
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tsp finely grated orange zest
  • 3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp pure almond extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup seedless raspberry jam
  • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Toast almonds by spreading them in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake them in a 350 degree oven for about 8 minutes. In a food processor, finely grind the cooled toasted almonds using short pulses. Set aside. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on high speed, cream the butter until fluffy and pale yellow. Add the granulated sugar and continue beating until combined. Add the egg yolk, orange zest, vanilla, an almond extract and beat on low speed until well blended.

Sift flour, cinnamon, and salt together into another bowl. Add the ground almonds and stir to blend. Add the flour-nut mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low speed or stir with a wooden spoon until blended. The dough should be soft. Turn the dough out of the bowl, divide into 4 equal portions, and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets or line them with parchment (baking) paper. Remove 1 portion of the dough at a time from the refrigerator, place between 2 sheets of waxed paper, and roll out to 1/4 inch thickness. Using a cookie cutter about 2 1/2 inches in diameter, cut out the cookies. Cut a hole in the center of half of the cookies with a 1 1/4 inch cutter. Repeat to roll out remaining dough portions, then reroll the dough scraps as needed to make 24 cutouts in all, cutting holes in half of them. If the dough becomes sticky, wrap it and chill in the freezer for about 10 minutes before rolling out.

Using a thin spatula, carefully transfer the cookies to the prepared pans, Bake until firm to the touch, about 12 minutes. Transfer the pans to wire racks. Loosen the cookies from the pans with the spatula, but leave in place on the pans until cooled.

To assemble, spread the solid cookies with about 1 teaspoon of the raspberry jam to within about 1/4 inch of the edges. Using a fine-mesh sieve, dust the cookies with the center cut-out (the cookies that go on top) with confections’ sugar. Top the solid cookies with the cutout cookies.

Enjoy these cookies with a steaming cup of hot tea.

2 thoughts on “A Merry Christmas with Linzer Cookies

  1. Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving those nice words. Your linzer cookies look beautiful! I love that Williams Sonoma baking book… seems like it never fails. Merry Christmas to both of you!

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