One of the best sweets I learned to make while at Le Cordon Bleu was the classic Linzer Torte. The thin tart with a nut-rich crust, sweet jammy filling and decorative lattice top is standard fare during the holidays throughout Europe. I had enjoyed a slice here and there while travelling through Austria years before, but only fell in love with it when I finally got around to making my own when in Paris.
I haven't made a full tart in years (we'll have to change that soon), but when devising my baking plan for our 2nd Annual Dunn Sibling Holiday Cookie Swap, I decided to do the next best thing and work up some of these super tasty Linzer Cookies. Their warm spiced cookie laced with hazelnuts and cloves, along with their glowing red center of raspberry jam and snow-like dusting of confectioner's sugar make them an ideal holiday treat.
Last year we shipped out Cappuccino Brownies, Chewy Ginger Cookies, and Triple Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies for our cookie swap, and while they were all delicious, none of them were particularly festive. This year I decided to craft some goodies that were a little more in keeping with the spirit of the holidays, though to be honest about half-way through making them I was cursing up a blue streak.
Because I am decidedly a drop cookie, or perhaps a slice and bake cookie kind of guy, and the patience required to make roll and cut cookies is a bit of a challenge for me. Those of you who have been cutting wreath or Christmas tree cookies for years know the drill. Make the dough then put it in the fridge to chill. Roll the dough then put it back in the fridge to chill. Cut the cookies, put them on a baking sheet and then back in the fridge to chill. Take the scraps from cutting, form it back to a ball then put it in the fridge to chill. Re-roll the scraps then put it in the fridge……..you get the point, yes? There's lots of chillin' going on here!
As if that weren't enough, two of the cookies I decided to make this year were sandwich cookies, requiring that I actually make twice as many cookies as I would normally need….why I didn't figure this out ahead of time is beyond me. I had finished baking my sugar cookies which would later be filled with lemon curd (stay tuned for those babies), and was about halfway through making these Linzer Cookies when I walked into our home office and made my wife swear that she wouldn't let me make this mistake again next year. She told me to write the thought down somewhere because mental notes don't seem to be working as well as they used to around here.
Fast forward a day and it was time to assemble and ship these darlings. They sure did look nice all put together, very festive indeed. I pulled one from the rack to try because quality control is my middle name, and I wouldn't dream of sending them out without a little nibble first…..
Oh my, they were so, so, SO good!
Damn…..guess I have a lot of rolling and chilling to look forward to in the years to come. Make these just once and you will too!
Cheers – Steve
Raspberry Linzer Cookies
- 2 1/2 ounces (1/2 cup) sliced almonds - (I used 2 1/2 oz. almond flour here and it worked great)
- 2 1/2 ounces (1/2 cup) coarsely chopped hazelnuts - (I used 2 1/2 oz. hazelnut flour here and it worked great)
- 9 1/2 ounces (2 cups plus 1 tablespoon) all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 7 ounces (14 tablespoons) chilled unsalted butter
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon cold water
- 1/2 cup raspberry preserves (I used Bonne Maman brand...yum)
- confectioner's sugar for dusting
- Several hours before baking: In a food processor, grind the almonds and hazelnuts with 1/2 cup of the flour until finely textured but not powdered. Add the remaining flour , granulated sugar, lemon zest, baking powder, salt, cinnamon , and cloves. Pulse to combine. Cut the butter into 1/2 inch pieces and add to the flour mixture; pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Don't over process. Transfer to a large bowl. Whisk the egg and water together, then sprinkle over the flour mixture and toss gently to combine. The dough should hold together when pinched. (If it seems dry sprinkle on a little more water.) Gather the dough into two balls and knead briefly just to blend. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, 2 to 3 hours.
- To bake: Heat the oven to 325℉. Line several cookie sheets with parchment. Generously flour a work surface (or work between 2 large sheets of floured parchment as I did). Roll the dough to 3/16 inch thick. (Keep the rest in the refrigerator, and if the dough becomes warm up to the point of being sticky while you're working with it, return it to the refrigerator.) Cut out as many 2 1/2 inch rounds (or other shapes) as possible, re-rolling the scraps to make more rounds and chilling the dough as necessary. Arrange on the cookie sheets 3/4 inches apart. Cut 1 1/4 inch holes (or other shape like stars) in the center of half of the cookies. Re-roll these center scraps to make more cookies. bake until the edges are lightly browned, about 15 minutes. let cool on the sheets. repeat with the remaining dough.
- To assemble: spread a heaping 1/2 teaspoon of jam on the underside of the whole rounds. Dust confectioner's sugar over the top of the perforated cookies, and then put them on top of the whole cookies, bottom sides against the preserves.