For me, the holidays are all about family. But coming in at a very close second, like probably way too close of a second, is another one of my favorite things in the world: holiday food. I don't know about you, but when I think about this time of year, I think of cookies.
We'll be featuring some holiday cookie classics on Eating Our Words in honor of the season. And since I'll need something to bribe Santa with after a year of being a total bitch, I can promise you this: all of them will be equally delicious.
This Week's Classic: The Linzer Cookie
Linzer Cookies (or Linzer Sables) were adapted from the Austrian dessert Linzertorte, a crumbly pastry filled with jam and covered with a lattice design of dough. Believed to have originated in the Austrian city of Linz, the recipe is said to date back as far as 1653.
American bakeries often offer miniature cookie versions. These popular treats are made by spreading one cookie with jam and covering it with another same-size cookie with a shape cut out of the middle. They are then dusted with powdered sugar and immediately gobbled by anyone in their vicinity.
Here's how to make some at home:
- 2 sticks unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup sugar (divided)
- 2/3 cup almonds or hazelnuts
- 2 cups flour
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 large egg yolks
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Raspberry or Blackcurrants jam
- Powdered Sugar for dusting
In a food processor, mix almonds or hazelnuts with 1/4 cup sugar until nuts are finely ground.
In a mixing bowl with paddle attachment, beat the butter and remaining sugar until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add in the vanilla extract, egg yolks, lemon zest, and ground nuts and beat until smooth.
Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, and salt. Add into butter mixture and beat until just incorporated.
Because the dough has a nice amount of butter, it needs to be refrigerated and rolled out fairly quickly.
Divide the dough in half and lay out on large sheets of wax paper sprinkled lightly with flour. Shape both halves into rectangles about 1/2 inch thick, sprinkle with flour and top with another sheet of wax paper. Wrap completely and refrigerate both doughs for at least an hour (or up to 3 days) before rolling out.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place rack in center of oven.
Roll out first batch of dough, leaving the other refrigerated, to about 1/4 inch thickness. Refrigerate and repeat with other half.
Remove the first rolled sheet and cut cookies into desired shape using cookie cutters (hearts, stars, circles, etc). Reserve and refrigerate scraps. Repeat with other half.
Place cookies about one inch apart on a greased baking sheet. In half the cookies, cut a shape out of the center using a smaller cookie cutter. Combine cut out scraps with excess scraps and roll out to make more cookies.
Bake cookie bottoms and tops with centers cut out for 12-15 minutes until lightly browned. Set on a rack to cool.
Meanwhile, slightly thicken jam by heating it gently in a saucepan. Remove from heat and let cool.
Once cookies are cooled, assemble by spreading bottom half with about 1/2 tsp jam. Cover with the top half and spoon a little extra jam into cut out center. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.