What’s better than one delicious cookie?
Two delicious cookies at once, masquerading as one. That’s the definition of a linzer cookie.
Well, actually, it’s the definition of a sandwich cookie, but a linzer cookie is a type of sandwich cookie, so it counts. But what the devil is a linzer, anyway?
A linzer cookie is modeled after the linzer torte, a nutty, jam-filled confection hailing from the town of Linz, Austria. Recipes for linzers vary widely, some with ground nuts or flour, and some simply a shortbread or spiced shortbread dough with jam filling in between. I enjoy both variations, and if I’m being perfectly honest, my go-to recipe for linzers for the past three years or so has been the latter type, simply because that’s what I learned to make, and because it’s nice to have a nut-free version of a recipe for allergen purposes. However, because I am a woman of science, I will be providing both variations today.
What I really like about linzers, besides the fact that I get two-in-one cookies, is getting to customize the middle with whatever jam or preserves I please or have on hand. Our farmer’s markets are full of fun fruit jams with even more fun names, like FROG (fig, raspberry, orange, and ginger) jam and TOE (tangerine, orange, elderberry) jam, which pair beautifully with spiced or nutty dough. You can choose whatever jam filling you want; I prefer the colorful, jewel-like appearance of red or purple jams in the centers. Heck, why not even make your own jam for the filling? That’s what I’ll be doing this year.
As with any rolled cookie dough, linzer dough needs time to cool and solidify a bit in the fridge before shaping and baking. Make sure, as well, to allow the cookies to cool absolutely, positively completely before spreading with jam; otherwise, you’ll get a melty mess, and they won’t stay together. Topping the cookies with powdered sugar is traditional, and gives them an even more whimsical, wintry appearance. They make fabulous gifts and additions to cookie trays!
Ready to impress the pants off your friends and family? Let’s linzer.
You will need:
- 1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
- 3/4 c almond flour
- 1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
- 1/2 tsp cardamom (optional)
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 c (2 sticks) butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 c white sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp amaretto, or 1 tsp almond extract
- 1 c jam of choice
- Combine flours, salt, cinnamon, and cardamom in a medium bowl and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes with an electric mixer. Add egg, vanilla, and amaretto, and mix until fully combined. Gradually add flour until just combined.
- Divide the dough into 2 or 4 parts, flatten into disks, wrap, and refrigerate until cool and just set, about half an hour. (Alternatively, you can refrigerate overnight, and pull the dough out about 20-30 minutes before you intend to shape it.)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly flour a countertop or other flat surface. Working with one dough disk at a time (keep the others in the fridge while you work), roll out the dough either directly on the floured counter, or between two pieces of floured parchment, until it is an even 1/8 inch thick. Using a round cookie cutter, large biscuit cutter, or floured drinking glass, cut dough into rounds, rerolling scraps until all of the dough is used. For half of the rounds, cut out a small hole or other shape from the center of the dough. Place rounds onto prepared baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough disks.
- Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 8-10 minutes (almond flour bakes a bit faster than all-purpose, so watch this carefully!) until the edges are golden, rotating the sheets as necessary to maintain even baking. Cool completely on wire racks.
- Spread jam (about 1/2-1 tsp) on each of the cookie rounds without cutouts in the center. (To make jam even more spreadable, you can warm it up briefly on the stove or microwave in 5 second intervals.) Top with remaining cookies (the ones you cut holes in the center), and sprinkle with powdered sugar using a sifter. Hooray, you have cookies!
Nut-Free Linzers: Omit the almond flour and use 3 c all-purpose flour. Omit almond extract, if desired. Proceed with recipe, baking cookies for 10-12 minutes.