Christmas Cookie #8: The Legendary Linzer

About four years ago I purchased these really cool Linzer Christmas cookie cutters.  Keep in mind this was back in my old “busyness”  life where I never had time to bake.  It is not surprising those cutters had stayed in the package so long.  Each year they were removed from my Christmas kitchen bin and set aside with the other never used cooking and baking items. Well I am proud to say I opened the box this week and then made the below amazing cookies.  Now if you have no idea what Linzer cookies are, let me educate you; they are pretty, delicious and have a long history.  The cookies actually originate from the Linzertorte which  is one of the oldest known tarts derived from a recipe discovered in an Austrian abbey circa  1653.  Johann Konrad Vogel (1796-1883) is credited with first mass producing it; Franz Holzlhuber, an Austrian émigré who worked as a baker, is recognized for introducing it to America around 1856. Linz is a wonderful city in Austria from where this special torte gets its name.

Linzer cookies employ a similar recipe as the Linzertorte .  The difference is the dough is cut into cookies and two of them are joined to form a sandwich around the preserves.  The top cookie also has a small cut-out in its center (known as Linzer eyes), thus exposing the underlying jam and adding to the visual appeal.  While the traditional cut-out is circular, several shapes  have appeared over time.  I chose common Christmas shapes.

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Could this be where the famous Peak Frean got its idea for an amazing jam sandwiched treat? I knew there was good reason why I loved those cookies.

Linzer Cookie Ingredients                          Yield: 2 dozen

1 cup (150grm) sliced almonds

2 cups (260grm) all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon (1grm) ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon (2 grm) salt

zest of large lemon

1 cup (226grm) unsalted butter (at room temperature)

3/4 cup (150grm) white sugar : divided – see instructions below

1 teaspoon (5grm) pure vanilla extract

2 large egg yolks

TOPPING

1/2 cup (60grm) icing sugar

1/2 cup (120ml) raspberry or black current jam/ NOTE: the traditional Linzertorte and Linzer cookie always used black current jam

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Instructions

heat oven to 350

– line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, and spread out almonds and bake for 5-7 min until lightly toasted

watch carefully as nuts burn quickly

it is important to toast any nut being used in baking as it brings out the true flavour of the nut

– in a medium bowl mix flour, cinnamon, salt, and lemon zest/ and set aside

– when almonds are cool place in a food processor with 1/4 cup sugar and mix to ground stage

NOTE: you can omit this step and use ground almonds that you can buy at grocery store – but the flavour will be different and you will not get the true Linzer taste

– with electric mixer or stand mixer beat butter and 1/2 cup sugar until pale and fluffy/ 2-3 min

– beat in vanilla and egg yolks until mixed through

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– alternating between ground almonds and flour mixture add slowly to butter mixture on low-speed until both ingredients are mixed through

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– divide dough into 2 balls and flatten slightly/ wrap in plastic and place in refrigerator for 30-60min

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– remove one dough ball at a time and on a floured surface roll out dough to 1/4 thickness

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– using a round cookie cutter cut out your shape that will be used for the base of the cookie

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– take excess scrapes and shape again into ball and flatten and put back in fridge

NOTE if dough is still workable to roll again you can omit above step

– take out 2nd ball from fridge and roll again – this time you are going to cut-out the shape to be used for top of cookie

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– place cookies on a parchment lined cookie sheet about 1 inch apart

– place entire cookie sheet in freezer for about 5min: this will prevent cookies from shrinking and loosing their shape when baked

– bake cookies for 10-12 min until lightly golden on edges

– cool cookies on wire rack

– when cookies are completely cooled it is time to assemble them

– take tops of cookie and sprinkle with icing sugar

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– add a small dollop of jam on top of bottom cookie – and spread thinly over surface

– place cut-out cookie on top of jam cookie

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– the filled cookies will soften when stored

– to keep cookies crisp you can assemble cookies prior to serving

– assembled cookies will keep in refrigerator for several days

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