Thursday, December 19, 2013

Linzer Cookies

Linzer Cookies are Cookie Week Cookie #4...and I'm running out of steam.  I don't know what to write about (bad food blogger, bad!).  Let's see what updates about my life I can give you.  All my Christmas shopping is done!  I put up Christmas lights outside my house!  I have my baking schedule fully planned!  I have somewhat figured out my Christmas Day menu (oh yeah, have I mentioned that my sister and I volunteered to cook Christmas dinner?  I have no idea what we were thinking when we blurted that decision out).  Aside from that, things are the same, except that now, Linzer cookies are on da blog.  If you've never had a Linzer cookie...who are you?

They're only like my favorite cookie EVER.  

I know I'm a die-hard chocolate fan, whether in cake, brownie, cookie, or ice cream mode.  However, if there's one thing I love more, or as much, at the minimum, it's raspberry preserves.  Man, I just LOVE the stuff.  It's sweet and slightly tart at the same time, and pairs so beautifully with chocolate (see this example for proof).  Whenever I see cookies with both raspberry preserves and powdered sugar together, like in these thumbprint cookies, I can hardly contain my excitement.  Linzer cookies are no exception.  They're one of my favorite cookies to eat, but also to make and give away.  They're not only delicious, but are also elegant and beautiful, making them a great hostess gift or a perfect option to bring for the conclusion of any holiday party. 

Linzer cookies combine so many wonderful things into a single bite.  They have a nutty crunchiness, sweet raspberry preserves, and lots of powdered sugar on top to finish everything off.  I remember eating and making these cookies ever since I was a little girl, and I've always loved them.  Linzer cookies have always been a regularly rotating cookie in my holiday cookie arsenal.  Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas without some of these beautiful cookies!

Linzer cookies are so great because they're so simple to make.  The dough requires so few ingredients, and mixing them together only takes a matter of minutes, so you can really have a batch of delicious Linzer cookies whenever you get a craving.  Because traditional Linzer cookies contain either hazelnuts or almonds, I find that using almond meal simplifies the cookies even further.  By using almond meal, I don't have to worry about toasting almonds or grinding them up myself.  However, if you don't have any almond meal, you can certainly just use regular almonds and grind them up until they resemble almond meal.  Both options would produce a delicious cookie, no matter what.  

What I love most about Linzer cookies, aside from how delicious they are, is how elegant they look.  The contrast between the powdered sugar and dark raspberry jam is so striking, and makes for a beautiful cookie.  They're also highly adaptable, and can be made to suit a variety of situations depending on the cookie cutter you choose to use.  I chose to make these with a Christmas theme by keeping the cookies round and then using a variety of small Christmas themed cutters to cut out the centers of half of the cookies.  You can switch things up by using traditional hearts for the centers of the cookies, or other themed cutters for different holidays, or you can make the cookies in shapes other than circles.  One helpful trick when making these cookies that I always use is to arrange the cookies on the baking sheets by always placing a bottom plain round cookie next to a cookie with a center cutout.  This way, I know that I'm making pairs of cookies and will have an even number of each type of cookie to make sandwiches.  There's nothing worse than assembling the cookies and realizing you're short of a few cookies to make sandwiches!  Aside from that, Linzer cookies are simple and straightforward, and result in nutty and sweet cookies. Enjoy!

Linzer Cookies
recipe from Joy of Baking


2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large egg yolks
1 cup almond meal

1/2 cup raspberry preserves
powdered sugar, for dusting


In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, and salt. In the bowl of a standard electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in the vanilla extract and egg yolks until combined, and then beat in the almond meal last, mixing only until combined. Divide the dough in half.  Shape each half into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.

Once the dough is firm, lightly flour a work surface and line baking sheets with silicone liners.  Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out the dough until it is 1/4 inch thick.  With a 3-inch round cookie cutter (I used a fluted cutter), cut out rounds of dough, and place them on the prepared baking sheets. With a smaller cookie cutter (I used a variety of Christmas shapes), cut out the centers of half of the cookies on the baking sheets.  Use an offset spatula to help remove the center cutout.  Completing the center cutout while the cookies are on the baking sheets removes the task of transferring the ring of dough from your work surface to the baking sheet, which could ruin the perfect outer circular shape.  Gather the scraps of dough, and repeat to cut out additional cookies until all the dough has been used.  If you find the dough getting a little difficult to work with, simply refrigerate it for 10 minutes or so to firm up.  

Once you finish cutting out the cookies, place the baking sheets in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.  Chilling the cookies will help ensure that they retain their shape while they bake.  While the cookies are chilling, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges.  Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the cookies have cooled completely, you can begin to assemble them.  Dust all the cookies with the centers cut out with powdered sugar.  Spread a layer of raspberry preserves on the bottom side of the plain round cookies, and then top with a powdered sugar cookie.  Repeat with the remaining cookies.  Enjoy!

Makes about 26 3-inch sandwich cookies


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