Friday, December 12, 2008

It's Almost Christmas: Linzer Cookies

My sister pleads with me to make these throughout the year, but they're a bit labor-intensive so I only make them before Christmas. The hazelnut dough lends a bit of spiciness, the red raspberry jam makes them festive, and the snowy dusting of confectioners sugar reminds me of Christmas. I bake the cutouts from the middle as bonus bite-sized treats. I also give them away as holiday gifts in colorful Chinese take-out boxes I get from the party store. They won't fail to please!

Linzer Hearts from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook
Instead of hearts, I use a round cookie cutter and holiday-themed mini cutters
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
1 cup (4½ oz) blanched hazelnuts
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large egg yolks
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
½ tsp freshly grated lemon zest
½ cup raspberry jam, for filling
¼ cup confectioners sugar, for dusting

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. In a food processor, pulse hazelnuts until finely ground. Whisk the ground hazelnuts into the flour mixture; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and granulated sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg yolks, vanilla, and lemon zest; beat to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. With mixer on low speed, add hazelnut-flour mixture, and beat until just combined, 10 to 15 seconds.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface, divide in half, and shape into flattened disks. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.

Remove one disk of dough from the refrigerator, and let stand until softened slightly. (This will help keep the dough from cracking when rolled.) On a large piece of parchment paper lightly dusted with flour, roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness. To prevent sticking while rolling, occasionally run a large offset spatula under dough, and add more flour to the top or bottom of dough. Transfer parchment paper and dough to a baking sheet; freeze until firm, about 20 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough. (You can stack the parchment and dough.)

Preheat the oven to 325°. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove one sheet of dough and parchment from freezer; working quickly, cut into heart shapes with a 3-inch cookie cutter. Cut out center from half the shapes with a 2-inch cutter. Using a wide metal spatula, transfer open hearts to prepared baking sheets, about 1½ inches apart; freeze until firm, about 15 minutes. (You can bake the cutout centers for bite-size cookies, or reroll them to make the larger hearts.)

Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are crisp and lightly golden all over, about 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. (Cooled cookies can be stored overnight in an airtight container at room temperature before filling.) Spread the flat sides of the whole hearts with about 1½ tsp jam. Sift confectioners sugar over the open hearts. Just before serving, top open hearts with jam. Cookies should be eaten the day they're filled.

1 comment:

  1. they look so delicious! I picked up a bottle of raspberry preserves the other day... maybe i can muster up the will to give them a try!


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