The Linzer cookies are the quintessential Christmas cookie; elegant, nutty, and spiced, these crisp, tender sweet cookies are filled with spiced raspberry jam and looks as festive as it can get.
The Linzer cookies are derived from the famous Linzer Torte, which seemed to have originated in the town of Linz of Austria. The torte has given way to cute cookies and different kind of jam or preserves are used in place of the traditional black currant preserve. Personally I feel the red raspberry preserve gives the cookies a more appropriate look during the holiday season.
Before I move on the cookie, I have an announcement to make and a Giveaway to follow.
My dear friend Ivy Liacopoulou of Kopiaste to Greek Hospitality has written a Cookbook! and the book is now on sale in Amazon. “Mint, Cinnamon and Blossom Water” Flavors of Cyprus, Kopiaste is book full of home cooked and traditional recipes from Cyprus. Those of you who are familiar with Ivy, would know what a sweet lady she is and how beautifully and passionately she blogs about authentic recipes from Greece and Cyprus. It is a “… must have cookbook with a selection of over 150 of the best traditional Greek-Cypriot recipes….”
Now the best part is for my readers! Ivy has been very generous and is sending me 2 copies of this book, one for me to keep (yaaay!) and the other one for one lucky winner. I will announce the giveaway as soon as I receive the books.
A little food history about Linzer Cookie…
“Linz is the reputed home of the renowned Linzertorte. A Linzertorte is a tart made of a rich buttery dough accentuated by almonds, lemon zest, and cinnamon. The tart is traditionally filled with black currant preserves and topped with a lattice crust. … Linzertortes are a traditional European Christmas pastry, a custom that is now enjoyed in the US as well. …
Linzer cookies employ the same recipe as the Linzertorte but instead the dough is cut into cookies and two of them form a sandwich around the preserves. Moreover, the top cookie has a small cutout in its center (known as Linzer eyes), thus exposing the underlying jam and adding to the visual appeal.” (Source)
I had been baking all weekend. First these cookies, and then the all of a sudden urgency that I have not baked fruit cake this year led me to bake us two small loaves of a quick fruity bread (recipe coming up) almost right after the cookies. I churn my memories of childhood, and it never feels like the Christmas time without the smell of baking and the feel of a warm oven. It was a family affair; whisking, beating, scraping and kneading and of course the tasting. Then the loaded pans would be taken to the local bakery, for we did not own an oven to bake in that scale. So it feels like now, with my girls, together in the kitchen.
Cookies bring warmth and happiness. There is nothing as delightful as watching a child’s face light up at the sight of a cookie. During the holiday season, they are extra special; a symbol of love, giving and sharing.
The Linzer cookies looked too good to give them a pass – soft, snowy, powdery white and peeked through the cut out was the red glossy jam – irresistible!.The time was just right, the kids begged and pleaded and I finally came around baking them. The girls picked out whatever cut outs they wanted and helped me stamp the cookies.
And I am glad that I chose to bake these cookies, for they were very very pretty! To look at them was a joy, to bite into them was sheer bliss. Thin, delicate, tender and crisp – beautifully dusted with snow and with the luscious spiced jam inside – these were some sophisticated desirable cookies.
Notes before you start baking:
- If you are using hazelnuts with skins, it would be a good idea to toast and skin them ahead of time. It takes a lot of time to skin the nuts.
- Chill, chill, chill the dough. It gets very very difficult to work with soft room temperature dough. Chill the dough while one set of cookies are baking, even if it is for 30 minutes.
- Watch the cookies while they are baking. They cook really fast. I use a small convection oven and mine were done at 10 minutes.
- If you are wondering why the white on my cookies have a “smeared” look, it is due to my lack of patience. I cheated and instead of evenly dusting them, I placed the cookies in a big bowl full of confectioners sugar.
Linzer Cookies with Spiced Jam
- scant 1 cup hazelnuts or blanched almonds
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar ( I have used 1/4 cup orange sugar + 1/4 cup dark brown sugar)
- 2 1/2 cups cake flour (or all purpose flour)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- a pinch of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground clove
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1.5 teaspoon lemon or orange zest
- 1 +3/4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 1 large free range egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- confectioners sugar to dust
- 1 cup seedless raspberry jam or preserve
- 1/2 teaspoon ground all spice + 1/2 spoon ground coriander (or clove/ginger powder/nutmeg/all spice/anise or any kind of spice you want)
Linzer Cookie Cutter (optional) or cookie cutters which are big and small (smaller ones are required to cut out the centers)
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.
Toast hazelnuts in a shallow baking pan until fragrant and skins begin to loosen, about 6 minutes. Or toast them on the stove top in a dry skillet at low flame for 5-7 minutes, while tossing them constantly. Rub the nuts in a towel to remove as much loose skin as you can (some skins may not come off), then cool to room temperature. If you are using blanched almonds you do not have to toast them.
Pulse nuts and 1/4 cup sugar in a food processor until nuts are finely ground. (The sugar used during grinding the nuts absorbs the oil from the nuts and prevents the nuts from turning into a paste.)
Rub the zest with your finger with the flour to release the oil. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon + clove + nutmeg powder in a bowl. Set aside.
Beat together butter and remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes in a stand mixer or 6 minutes with a hand held mixer. Add nut mixture and beat until well combined, about a couple of minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture, mixing until just combined.
With floured hands, gather up the dough and form dough into 2 balls and flatten each into a 6-inch disk. Chill disks, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 2 hours.
Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350°F.
Roll out 1 disk of dough into an 5-6-inch round (1/6 inch thick) between 2 sheets of wax paper (keep remaining dough chilled). If dough becomes too soft to roll out, re-wrap in plastic and chill until firm.
Use one disc to cut out the base (without the center hole) and the other disc to cut out the top cookie.( I have used a Linzer cookie cutter, so I did not have to use a smaller cutter.) Make sure that you equal number of cookies, to pair the top and the bottom.
Cut out as many cookies as possible from dough with the Linzer cookie cutter and transfer to 2 un-greased large baking sheets, arranging about 1 inch apart. Using smaller cutters, cut out centers from half of the cookies, reserving centers and re-rolling along with scraps (re-roll only once).
Bake cookies, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until edges are golden, 10 to 12 minutes total, then transfer with a metal spatula to racks to cool completely.
Make more cookies from second disk in the same way as above.
Make sure you dust the fronts with powdered sugar before you made the sandwich.
Spread about 1 teaspoon jam on flat side of 1 solid cookie and sandwich jam with flat side of 1 windowed cookie. Sandwich remaining cookies in same manner.
Store in airtight container and they will stay good for a couple of days.
But it is best if they are sandwiched with the jam/preserve right when you are ready to serve.
A crispy buttery delicacy with a spiced filling. Rich, but very very light and as you can imagine, they did not last very long.