Linzer Cookies

Linzer cookies are lovely, elegant cookies that look harder to make than they actually are — and they’re delicious! I’m a traditionalist so I make these cookies with toasted hazelnuts, but almonds are also delicious.

The Recipe

by volume                                                              by weight

1 cup all purpose flour                                      120 grams all purpose flour

1/2 cup hazelnuts                                               57 grams hazelnuts

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon                                  3 grams cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt                                                1 gram salt

1/2 cup soft butter                                             4 ounces soft butter

3/8 cup brown sugar                                        75 grams brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla                                          2 grams vanilla

1 egg yolk                                                               18 grams egg yolk

 

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400F. Chop the hazelnuts very finely by hand or in a food processor and toast the hazelnuts for 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown. Cool completely. I chop and then toast so that more surface area of the nuts is toasted which gives a nuttier flavor to the cookies. (Remember, if you chop by hand, you will only be able to roll the dough as thin as the largest hazelnut fragment. You want the cookies to be thin and elegant not thick and clunky so chop well!) Turn the oven down to 350F.

untoasted

toasted

Mix butter and brown sugar together until very smooth.

Add egg yolk, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla and mix until completely combined.

Add flour and cooled, ground nuts and mix until a smooth dough forms.

Roll the dough on a well floured surface to between 1/8″ and 1/16″ thick and be sure to move the dough around to keep it from sticking to the table.

Cut out the shape and size cookie you desire. Each cookie requires a top and a bottom so cut out double the number of shapes and place on 2 lightly greased sheet pans, tops on one and bottoms on the other. If you don’t bake the tops and bottoms separately, the tops will be overdone before the bottoms are baked through.

Cut the middles out of the cookies on one tray. Be sure you cut them after you move them to the tray because it is impossible to keep them round when moving them! (I usually cut one or two extra tops just in case I break one during the sandwiching process!)

Use the tip of a paring knife to lift out the centers of the cookies. (The scraps can be rerolled as long as you are careful about how much flour you use and you continue to move the dough so it doesn’t stick to the table.)

Bake the cookies for 13 to 15 minutes for bottoms and 10 to 12 minutes for the tops until golden brown.

Remove the cookies from the sheet pans while they are still warm and let them cool completely before continuing.

Use a small, fine mesh strainer to dust the tops with powdered sugar.

Pipe about a teaspoon of jam onto each cookie bottom. I use a pastry bag with a large round tip, #806. You can certainly use a spoon but using a pastry bag with a tip is less messy and distributes the jam more easily. Besides, it’s good to become familiar with this technique since it is absolutely essential for many pastries and decorating techniques.


Carefully place the tops on the bottoms. Beautiful Linzer cookies! (After Linzer cookie assembly, the tops tend to move around a bit when you try to pick the cookies up. Once they sit a bit, the jam becomes tacky and the cookies stay  together better.)

 

Alternatives

I always make Linzer cookies with hazelnuts but almonds are also delicious. Red currant jam is traditional in Austria but that’s not very common in the US so raspberry is an excellent second choice. These cookies adapt well to many shapes — hearts for Valentine’s Day, stars at Christmastime, and rounds, triangles, and squares for anytime!

Linzer cookies are best they day they are assembled. The jam slowly softens the cookie and the next day the cookies have lost some of their crunch. The baked cookies can be stored airtight and then assembled when desired. Even better, roll and cut the cookies and freeze them until the day you want to serve them. Bake and fill according to the directions and you have fresh Linzer cookies whenever you like!

To freeze cut out cookies, cover a flat tray or piece of cardboard with plastic wrap. Place the cookies in a single layer and be sure they don’t touch. When one layer is full, cover with plastic wrap and continue with a second layer placed directly on the first. Continue in this manner until all the dough is used.

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