Linzer cookies are those great little nutty sandwich cookies filled with jam. I like mine with the hazelnuts and low sugar raspberry or blackberry jam. I think you could fill them with chocolate ganache too. They take these special little cookies cutters which everyone says are problematic. I have loads of problems with mine but I’ve found a way to work with the cookie cutters instead of being frustrated by them.
Here’s the set taken apart with all the pieces. They typically come with little to no instructions. I end up not using the red part with the push spring because it never works correctly for me. The little flat piece goes inside the smooth round one with the edges to put the decorative cutters in the middle facing the cutting edge. Then put the fluted piece in to hold the flat piece in place. Use this without a decorative cut for the bottoms of your cookies.
Today, my cutter went crazy on me and I ended up losing the little spring on the push part. I have found the whole push mechanism to be faulty when making these cookies. After the first time, I almost gave up and never made them again. But I love the cookies. The trick is to just use them as a regular cookie cutter. I cut my circles and when they don’t come out of the cutter I use a chopstick to gently push them onto the cookie sheet. Then I put my little design in the middle and cut them. I use the same method with the chopsticks.
Here’s the Linzer Cookie recipe I use. I don’t remember where I got it but it works well.
I find that this recipe works best when using weights instead of cups for the dry ingredients. Nuts are a difficult ingredient to get the right amount when using a measuring cup.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place rack in the center of the oven.
Toast the hazelnuts on a baking sheet for 15 minutes or until fragrant and the skins begin to flake. Remove from oven and place the hot nuts in a dish towel. Roll up the towel and let the nuts sit (steam) for five minutes then rub the nuts in the towel briskly to remove the skins. Once the nuts have cooled, place in a food processor and process with 1/4 cup (50 grams) of the sugar from the recipe until finely ground. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk or sift together the flour, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), cream the butter and remaining sugar until light and fluffy (approximately 3 minutes). Beat in the vanilla extract, egg yolks, and lemon zest. Beat in the ground nuts. Add the flour mixture beating just until incorporated. Divide the dough in half and shape into two rectangles about 1/2 inch (1.5 cm) thick. Wrap the two rectangles of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm (at least one hour and up to several days).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Remove one rectangle of dough from the refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough until it is about 1/4 inch (1 cm) thick. Using a 2 to 3 inch (5 to 7.5 cm) cookie cutter (round, square, heart, etc.) cut out the dough. Place the cookies about 1 inch (2.54 cm) apart on the prepared baking sheet. Use a smaller cookie cutter (3/4 – 1 inch (2.54 cm)) to cut out the centers of half of the cookies on the baking sheet.
Remember to make an even number of tops and bottoms. You will be sandwiching two cookies together and there will be a small ‘window or cut out’ in the top cookie so you can see the jam underneath.
Reroll any scraps and cut out the cookies. Remove the other half of the dough from the refrigerator and roll and cut out the rest of the cookies. Bake the cookies for 12-14 minutes or until they are very lightly browned. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
While the cookies are cooling place the raspberry jam in a small saucepan and heat gently until it has thickened slightly. Strain if there are any lumps in the jam. Let cool.
To Assemble Cookies: Place the cookies with the cut-outs on a wire rack and lightly dust the tops with the confectioners’ (powdered or icing) sugar.
On the bottom surface of the full cookie (top of cookie will face out) spread with about a 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon of jam. Place the cut-out cookie on top and gently sandwich them together, making sure not to smug the confectioners’ sugar. Using a small spoon, fill the cut-out with a little more jam.
Yield: 20 servings of 40 cookies
Note: You can store the unassembled cookies in the refrigerator for several days in an airtight container. It is best, though, to assemble the cookies the same day as serving in order to keep the cookies crisp.