Have you ever had a linzertorte? I thought I had–growing up, I relished cookies that looked just like these. I always thought were called “lindsay tarts,” but nope, no such luck. Even if I did spell it correctly, these cookies are not the torte (kind of obvious once its spelled out since a “torte” is a cake), but rather a close cousin of this Austrian/Hungarian dessert. When the linzertorte is presented in cookie rather than cake form, its cut into a round shape and is instead known as Linzer Augen (“Linzer Eyes”). Whether cake or cookie is your poison, they both share very similar flavors: ground nuts (hazelnut and/or almond), seed-specked fruit preserves, and they are both simply amazing.
I mentioned fruit preserves. Typically, you’ll find black currants or raspberry preserves making an appearance in a more traditional linzer, but really, go with whatever floats your boat. I used my home-made strawberry rhubarb jam. These cookies are pretty simple to create, they look deceptively simple in flavor, but I promise that you’re whole batch of cookies will disappear before you know what happened (and those are the best kind of dessert). Plus, they’re pretty common as far as Christmas cookies go, so now is the time to bake a batch!
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1.5 cups flour
- 1.5 cups nuts (hazelnut and almond)
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4-1/2 cup jam/preserves (flavor of your choosing)
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- Optional: dash of ground cloves and nutmeg
- confectioners sugar for dusting
Sift the flour, salt, and spices in a bowl. Prepare the lemon zest in another.
Meanwhile, toast the whole nuts in a 350°F oven for about 10 minutes. Wrap them in a towel and rub them vigorously to shed that papery skin off as best you can. Grind these to a fine powder in your food processor along with about half of the sugar.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter (which is at roughly room temperature) along with the remaining sugar. Add in the vanilla and almond extracts, egg yolks, and zest, mixing in between each addition. Finally, add in the nuts and then the flour, mixing as little as necessary to form a homogenous mixture.
At this point, the dough is kind of tacky and difficult to work with. Divide it in half, making a rectangle that is roughly 1/2 inch thick out of each piece. Wrap these in plastic wrap and give them an hour in the fridge so they can firm up a bit. Have flour handy whenever you work with this dough and be generous about dusting with it.
Preheat your oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
With the dough firmed up a bit, remove one block. On a flour-dusted surface, roll it out to be about 1/4 inch thick. Now you need to form two kinds of cookie cutouts: one which is simply a big circle (this will be the bottom half of the cookie) and another which is the same big circle but with a smaller circle cut out of the middle (this goes on top, letting the fruit preserves show through). Just make sure you make equal amounts of both and transfer them to the baking sheet, roughly 1 inch apart.
Also, maybe it was just me, but I’d recommend you bake the tops and the bottoms separately. The top halves, being less cookie, cook a little bit quicker and are more prone to burning if you bake them as long as the bottoms. I baked the bottoms for about 12-14 minutes and the tops 8-10. Just keep an eye on them when you bake them.
Once the cookies are all baked and cooled down, its time to assemble them. This is a pretty easy process: generously dust the top layers with confectioner’s sugar.
And then spread a good dollop of jam on the bottoms. I started with the amount you see pictured, but added a bit more as I went. You don’t want it oozing out the side of the cookies when you place the sugared top layer on, but you do want to taste the jam (and its also the glue that holds things together).