Cookies are one of the most versatile desserts/snacks out there; they're perfect for literally any occasion. And the Christmas season warrants a ton of delicious cookies that simply add more joy to this jolly time. One such holiday cookie that I was recently introduced to is the linzer cookie. This delightful cookie is made by sandwiching fruit preserve or jam between two crumbly and flavourful sugar cookies and then dusted liberally with icing sugar. A linzer cookie looks like the ideal winter dreamscape — you have a little bit of the jam peeking out, a cloud of confectioners sugar, and a beautiful spiced, nutty sugar cookie to wrap it all up.
Linzer cookies are derived from the Austrian delicacy Linzer Torte. A linzer torte is a flakey, crumbly pastry made with flour and butter and almond flour, filled with fruit preserve, typically raspberry. It is then topped with pastry strips in a lattice pattern, allowing the fruit preserve to peel through the small openings. Linzer cookies are more or less a miniature version of the linzer torte.
The cookies themselves are similar to a sugar cookie, but they're so much more flavourful than a simple sugar cookie. They're nutty, they've got notes of warm spices, and they're just incredibly delicious. Linzer cookies are perfect for the holiday season, not only because of how they look but also because they taste heavenly!
What's in a linzer cookie?
Traditionally linzer cookies are made using a combination of all-purpose flour and almond flour. Many recipes use various nut flours such as hazelnut or walnut flours. My recipe for linzer cookies calls for hazelnut flour.
But, don't worry, you don't need to fret about purchasing hazelnut flour. All you need are some hazelnuts; it doesn't matter if they've still got their skins on them. You'll just need to pulse the hazelnuts a couple of times in a food processor or a blender, and you'll have fresh hazelnut flour. If you don't like hazelnuts or don't have them, you can use any other nut, almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews, whatever you like.
Apart from the hazelnut flour, you'll need some regular ingredients for the cookie — all-purpose flour, some really good butter, granulated sugar, ground cinnamon and nutmeg, some vanilla, salt, baking soda, and yogurt. This recipe is eggless, which is why we'll be using yogurt to replace the eggs.
The cookie is pretty straightforward, you make the dough, chill it for a while, roll it out, cut out circles, and bake them.
The traditional linzer cookies call for a raspberry preserve. If you have access to fresh raspberries, you can feel free to make your own preserve by cooking the berries down with some sugar. Alternatively, you can also use store-bought raspberry jam or any other berry jam, for that matter. Although, the store-bought jam usually looks like jello. This is why I suggest putting some in a bowl and mixing it with a spoon to loosen it up before adding it to the cookies.
As for how much jam you need to add, it's entirely up to personal preference. Some like to dollop a little only in the cookie's center, whereas some like smearing the cookie's entire surface with jam. It's entirely up to you!
What equipment do I need to make the hazelnut linzer cookies?
You'll need to make these cookies with an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer. You'll need a couple of mixing bowls as well. Most importantly, you will need a 2½-inch round cookie cutter and a 1-inch round cookie cutter. If you don't have any cookie cutters and don't want to buy some, you can use a metal glass or a bowl with a thin edge with a diameter of about 2½ inches. For the small circle in the center, you can use a medium-sized piping tip or a bottle cap of roughly the same size. That's what I did because I have no cookie cutters, and I ended up using a stainless steel glass and a piping tip.
You will, of course, need baking trays and parchment paper as well, along with a rubber spatula, a wire whisk, and keep some spoons handy.
The Recipe for Hazelnut Linzer Cookies
Yields: 11 sandwich cookies
Time: 1.5 hours
200 grams (1¾ cup) all-purpose flour
40 grams (¼ cup) hazelnuts
20 grams (2¾ tablespoons) cornstarch
4 grams (1 teaspoon) cinnamon powder
1 gram (¼ teaspoon) ground nutmeg
2 grams (½ teaspoon) salt
113 grams (½ cup) room temperature butter
100 grams (½ cup) granulated sugar
40 grams (¼ cup) yogurt
2 grams (½ teaspoon) baking soda
4 grams (1 teaspoon) teaspoon vanilla extract
50 grams (¼ cup) berry jam
Add the hazelnuts to a food processor or a mixer grinder and pulse a couple of times until you have a fine powder without any chunks of hazelnuts.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients along with the ground hazelnuts.
Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar in a separate bowl until the sugar is mostly dissolved.
Mix the yogurt and baking soda together, add it to the butter and sugar mixture.
Incorporate the vanilla extract next.
Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix it using the electric mixer.
Transfer the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and wrap it snugly. Press it into a rough rectangle or square.
Refrigerate the cookie dough for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
Transfer the chilled cookie dough onto a floured surface. Flour the rolling pin too.
Let the dough sit for a minute, and then roll it into a ⅛ inch thick sheet.
Cut out 3-inch circles with a round cookie cutter. Gather the scraps, roll the dough, and cut out more cookies.
You should have roughly 22 cookies. Cut out smaller circles from the center of half of the cookies using a medium-sized piping tip or a smaller cookie cutter.
Place the cookies onto the prepared baking tray, half an inch apart from one another.
Refrigerate the cookies for 15 minutes.
Bake them at 180°C for 10-12 minutes.
Chill the baked cookies on a cooling rack until they've come down to room temperature.
Place the cookies with the holes on a separate baking tray, and dust them with icing sugar.
Turn the remaining cookies flat side up and pipe about 1 teaspoon of the jam in the cookies' center, spread the jam lightly.
Top with the icing sugar-dusted cookies.
This cookie dough freezes really well. So, feel free to make it in bulk and freeze it for later. You can put it in the refrigerator a day before you plan on baking the cookies.
Once baked and assembled, store the cookies in an airtight container. They will keep for a week to 10 days.