My first exposure to Linzer Cookies was from the same grocery store that introduced me to Dutch babies, oddly enough. In the early 90s in Texas, very few grocery stores were gourmet – so when I found this one, I was introduced to a world of sweets beyond Oreos and Chips Ahoy.
And these cookies were impressive little works of art to me and rare given they were only available during the holiday season. Between the powdered sugar-crusted lattice top to the glassy raspberry filling, these cookies seemed impossibly complex – the real-life version of some stabilized Pepperidge Farm sweet. The flavor of the cookie still makes me think of the holidays – something about the spices is reminiscent of pumpkin pie or gingerbread.
The dough is easy to assemble because it’s done in the food processor, and rolling out is no more difficult than a simple vanilla sugar cookie.
A few notes on this recipe:
- I tried to make these into thumbprints, but the dough was too crumbly to form a stable pillow for the filling. When they baked, they melted into a slightly indented puddle. Not pretty enough to fill.
- Rolled out dough was very stable – no spreading at all. They were almost flakey when baked, but needed a little more cooling time on the pan before transferring to a rack to cool.
- Great for using up jams and jellies. I made some filled with grape butter and damson plum jam, and the more tart plum jam was a better contrast. Citrus is a nice counterpoint.
- Made these with hazelnuts, but resulting cookie had almost a gray tone. Like almond meal, it doesn’t brown up when baked (it probably shouldn’t), but like gray meat it’s just sort of ugh.
- Assumed 1 cup flour = 5 oz.
2 c AP flour
1 c almonds and/or hazelnuts
1/2 c granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
16 T unsalted butter
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 tsp grated lemon zest or 1/4 tsp lemon extract (not oil)
1 tsp grated orange zest or 1/4 tsp orange extract (not oil)
Strained or pureed good quality preserves or fruit spread
Powdered sugar, for dusting
A large and s small cookie cutter of the same or a different shape, for example a 4-inch leaf and a 2-inch leaf
2 cookie sheets, ungreased
- Combine the flour, nuts, granulated sugar, salt, cinnamon, and cloves in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.
- Pulse until the nuts are finely ground.
- Add the butter (cut into several pieces if firm).
- Pulse until the mixture looks damp and crumbly.
- Add the almond extract and lemon and orange zests or extracts and pulse until the mixture begins to clump up around the blade.
- Remove the dough, press it into a ball, and knead it a few times to complete the mixing.
- Form the dough into 2 flat patties.
- Wrap and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight, or up to 3 days. The dough may be frozen for up to 3 months.
- Preheat the oven to 325F. Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
- To roll and cut cookies, remove 1 patty from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature until supple enough to roll but still quite firm. It will continue to soften as you work.
- Roll the dough between two pieces of wax paper or between heavy plastic sheets from a plastic bag to the thickness of 1/8”.
- Turn the dough over once or twice while you are rolling it out to check for deep wrinkles; if necessary, peel off and smooth the paper over the dough before continuing to roll it.
- When the dough is thin enough, peel off the top sheet of paper or plastic and keep it in front of you.
- Invert the dough onto that sheet and peel off the second sheet.
- Cut as many large leaves as possible.
- Dip the edges of cookie cutters in flour as necessary to prevent sticking.
- Use the point of a paring knife to lift and remove scraps as you transfer cookies to cookie sheets.
- Place large cookies at least 1 1/2” apart on the cookie sheets.
- Cut a smaller leaf from the center of half of the large leaves.
- If the dough gets too soft at any time – while rolling, cutting, removing scraps between cookies, or transferring cookies – slide a cookie sheet underneath the paper or plastic and refrigerate the dough for a few minutes until firm.
- Repeat with the second piece of dough.
- Press all of the dough scraps together gently (don’t overwork them with too much kneading), and reroll.
- Bake 13 – 15 minutes, or until just beginning to color at the edges, rotating the cookie sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking (the small leaves make be baked 8 – 10 minutes on a separate cookie sheet to make miniature cookies, or the dough may be combined with other dough scraps to be rerolled and cut.)
- Let the cookies firm up in the pan for 1 – 2 minutes before transferring them to a rack with a metal pancake turner.
- Cool cookies completely before stacking or storing.
- Cookies are delicious fresh but even better the next day.
- To serve, spread each large solid leaf with a thin layer of preserves.
- Sieve powdered sugar over the empty leaves.
- Place a sugared leaf on top of each preserved-covered leaf.
Makes about 20 3 1/2” cookies
Filled cookies will not store well as they will begin to soften as soon as preserves are spooned on. If you do not plan to fill them, they may be stored, airtight, for a month or more.
This recipe comes from Alice Medrich's Cookies and Brownies, and is available on Purple House Dirt with permission from the author.